Saturday, 1 July 2017

Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze

Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze is the first collected volume of the current ongoing Black Panther comic book series from Marvel. It's not the first Black Panther series, but I believe it is the first to be both written and illustrated by black men.

A new era begins for the Black Panther! MacArthur Genius and National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me) takes the helm, confronting T'Challa with a dramatic upheaval in Wakanda that will make leading the African nation tougher than ever before. When a superhuman terrorist group that calls itself The People sparks a violent uprising, the land famed for its incredible technology and proud warrior traditions will be thrown into turmoil. If Wakanda is to survive, it must adapt--but can its monarch, one in a long line of Black Panthers, survive the necessary change? Heavy lies the head that wears the cowl!

You would think that this Volume One would be a good place to start reading Black Panther. It wasn't particularly and I'm not sure what would be a better place to start. I am not very familiar with the character — beyond his appearance in the latest Avengers movie — and my knowledge of Wakanda, his home country (that he is king of) is limited to references in other Marvel comics (and the aforementioned move).

A Nation Under Our Feet puts the reader in the middle of conflict and struggle in Wakanda and, to a degree, revolving around Black Panther. I was pretty lost for most of the book, not entirely sure of the who/what/why of the conflict and not strongly connecting with the titular character because I wasn't entirely sure what he was doing. I got the bit about wanting peace for Wakanda and looking for his sister, but I was fairly confused about the sister part.

The only characters I did feel I could get behind were the lesbian vigilantes, partly because we witnessed their origin story, more or less, and partly because who doesn't like lesbian vigilantes? Unfortunately, they didn't get an awful lot of page time, though I expect they would feature more in future issues/volumes. Although, I'm told they had a spinoff series that got cancelled after two issues, so, um. Well done, Marvel. 🤦‍♀️

I'm entirely sure who to recommend Black Panther to besides people already familiar with the character and location. My guess is that he has recently appeared in other comic book series too, but I have no idea which, other than not the ones I've been reading. It wasn't a bad comic book, but it didn't feel like a good place to start reading, unfortunately.

3.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2016, Marvel
Series: Black Panther, volume 1 of going series, containing issues #1–4
Format read: PDF with hideous watermark covering some of the text
Source: Hugo Voter Packet

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