Ta-Nehisi Coates has pulled off the near-impossible with his Black Panther series. Where lengthy story arcs are usually a huge detriment to comic books, Coates made an explosive start in Black Panther through a year-long story of revolution and civil war in T'Challa's homeland of Wakanda. In the aftermath of this long tale, he is setting up another fascinating tale exploring the culture of this fictional nation with the destructive absence of their pantheon of gods.
The story started in the last issue, and it continues here with T'Challa communing with ghosts of past Black Panthers as well as an old sorcerous adversary of his by the name of Zawavari to investigate the disappearance of gods. Meanwhile, a plot against the Black Panther brews helmed by Ezekial Stane, Doctor Faustus, the Fenris Twins, and Zenzi, the last of whom led the revolution against the throne in Wakanda. This cabal ends up kidnapping Asira a one-time lover of T'Challa.
Mr. Coates can trade in slow-boil plots where each installment has a development to entrench the reader further in the story as evidenced by his work on Black Panther. Character is key, and helped develop Black Panther, already one of Marvel's best and most interesting heroes, into easily one of the most fascinating protagonists in a mainstream super hero comic in recent history. I can't get enough of his version of T'Challa.
This was admittedly one of his slower issues in terms of plot development, but it still managed to hold my attention. The premise alone, the very real gods of Wakanda suddenly abandoning the country, makes for an enticing read. That being said, there is very little action on display, so it will not sate that need if you go into the comic expecting a lot of fight scenes.
The biggest and only major flaw of this comic is the conflicting art styles. It changes between a cartoony, Mark Bagley-esque style and a more realistic appearance seemingly at random. The inking and color keep the two fairly congruous, but it is still fairly noticeable and distracting. Neither style is bad per se the more realistic style fit the comic better given the grounded nature of the book as well as its political intrigue.
Panther manages to firmly hold my interest through this new installment, and I can't wait to see it continued next month. If you're not on board the Ta-Nehisi Coates–Black Panther train, then now is a good time as any. Give it a read.