We learn of an off-shoot of the Wakandan nation that left split off and left for space millennia ago. They have spread across the stars and become one of the most powerful forces in the universe.
T'Challa awakens on an alien spaceship with the voice of Ororo Munroe in his ears. The Black Panther finds himself a slave of the Shi'ar Empire, but he doesn't intend to be so for long. He makes an escape attempt which becomes quickly botched, but another party soon attacks the Shi'ar outpost. Their garb and names are familiar to T'Challa.
Ta-Nehisi Coates and Daniel Acuña lead Black Panther in a surprising new direction with this new #1. Space hasn't been a well-explored place by the Black Panther outside of the Avengers.
There is the potential for difficulty in suspending disbelief with the sudden existence of a wide-spread Wakandan Empire deep in outer space. I'm not going to call anyone wrong for being bothered by that, but these books do get more enjoyable if you separate the continuity that truly matters in storytelling and the continuity that doesn't. An intergalactic Wakandan Empire? Sure, why not? It could make for an interesting story.
This issue of Panther is refreshingly light on text, as T'Challa himself speaks very little. This allows for the art to tell the story, and that's always a good thing. This allows the pacing to quicken too.
Admittedly, the Wakandan Empire is the only new idea the book has. Press-gang slavers and space-faring freedom fighters aren't new to Marvel, but there is something to say about the skill with which the tale is told — namely the aforementioned economical use of text and swift pacing.
Daniel Acuña's artwork impresses, as his already-gorgeous style only seems to improve as time moves forward. His oil painting-esque work perfectly captures the Panther and the literal otherworldly environment. Expressions are subtly captured well. The color art is a shaded and smart balance of darker purples and black.
Black Panther #1 is a tight and fast-moving introductory issue for this new era of T'Challa. The story is fresh to the character and series, the narrative is interesting, and the art is great. This one earns a recommendation. Give it a read.