Black Panther #168: The Plot is Becoming Unwieldy

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The Jabari-Lands plead with the Queen Mother to allow them to rescue the Midnight Angels, Ayo and Aneka, from the clutches of Azania. The Queen Mother turns her down, saying that Wakanda cannot risk open conflict with their troublesome neighbors.

Meanwhile, Black Panther, Shuri, Thunderball, Zawavari, and Manifold continue to track the rifts bringing in the elder beings into Wakanda.

All the while, they fear what the Klaw, Stane, Faustus, and their coalition could bring next.

Black Panther #168 cover by Brian Stelfreeze
Black Panther #168 cover by Brian Stelfreeze

While I did quite enjoy this issue, I am beginning to fear that this arc of Black Panther could collapse under its own weight. There are a myriad of plots running simultaneously, too many to touch on every single one in any one issue of the comic. "Nation Under Our Feet" was a long-running story too, but, at its core, it was a simple premise: Revolution in Wakanda. "Avengers of the New World" has the threat of the elder gods, the threat of Klaw and his allies, the continuing stability troubles in Wakanda, Azania bearing its fangs at Wakanda, and many other subplots to boot.

To add to the problem, Ta-Nehisi Coates, as immensely talented as he is, likes to devote entire issues to a single character or angle in the story that doesn't do much to advance the overall plot or, worse, adds more plot. While those issues often stand well on their own, they tend to extend the overall arc more than necessary.

All of these concerns aside, Black Panther #168 was a good read, and it does stand well on its own. Coates is great at fleshing out the world of Wakanda and its many aspects. There isn't a wasted character in this series; each one has a story to tell and a part to play.

Black Panther #168 art by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Walden Wong, Matt Milla, and Chris Sotomayor
Black Panther #168 art by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Walden Wong, Matt Milla, and Chris Sotomayor

Chris Sprouse returns to provide the art for this issue, and it still looks very good. He plays with faces, expressions, and shadows quite well. He has some trouble depicting a satisfying fight scene, but that is his only real weakness. Matt Milla and Chris Sotomayor give their talent to the colorwork of this comic, and that aspect looks great as well.

Despite seeming to extend this interminable plot, Black Panther #168 is another strong issue in this series. The characters are compelling, the plot is interesting, despite how massive and sprawling it is. I can still easily recommend this comic. Check it out.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.
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