REVIEW: Black Panther: World of Wakanda #5 – “Midnight Angels”

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BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA #5
Writers: Roxane Gay & Ta-nehisi Coates
Penciller: Alitha E. Martinez
Inker: Roberto Poggi
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg

Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 3/15/17

World of Wakanda has reached the events of Black Panther #1, and now things are happening concurrently. After Aneka is honor-bound to kill Folami’s father, the fellow Dora Milaje swears revenge. Unfortunately for Ayo and Aneka, Folami knows of their secret love and cause much destruction with that truth.

Plot: Black Panther: World of Wakanda #5 begins at Aneka’s jail cell once more, where Folami hands her a tablet and warns her to turn it on in two hours’ time. While Aneka understandably fears for Ayo’s life, her lover can defend herself quite capably and fends off Folami’s attack with ease.

But it is not so easy for Ayo to beg for Aneka’s life, and Queen-Mother Ramonda turns down her plea for mercy. Meanwhile, dozens of Wakandan citizens are turning to the Dora Milaje for help after hearing of Aneka’s heroism. Mistress Zola dispatches several teams to aid the people of Wakanda, but has a different mission altogether for Ayo. One rooted entirely in love…

Story: So much ofWorld of Wakanda has been about helplessness in the face of injustice, so it’s fitting that this climactic issue shows so many characters taking back their power for the greater good. Having read T’Challa’s struggles in the main Black Panther series, we understand how he could have become distracted from his people and their needs, but the Dora Milaje cannot be responsible for knowing everything about him. Their duty may lie with him, but their heart lies with the Wakandan people and that is who they must protect.

There is a strong element of love versus fear in the arcs of the important characters. While Aneka pushed Ayo away several times out of fear, the love of justice that drove her to kill a village’s abuser ensures that Ayo will never abandon her. On the other hand, Folami has been driven by fear in all her actions – resulting in an unforgivable murder of the very person who wanted to teach her another way. The choices that everyone has made from the start of this prequel places them exactly where they need to be for Black Panther, though it must be said that the dawn of the Midnight Angels feels more joyful in World of Wakanda than it did before. Perhaps because it’s clear now that Ayo and Aneka’s rebellion was not born out of a specific hatred of T’Challa, but rather a love for each other and their country.

It’s only a shame that the story feels a little rushed at the end because there are only five issues, but World of Wakanda has been a well-crafted and touching look into the lives of everyone surrounding T’Challa. It’s certainly made an excellent companion to Black Panther, and I hope to see more Roxane Gay stories in the future.

Art: The art in Black Panther: World of Wakanda remained strong and vibrant throughout the entire run, thanks to Alitha E. Martinez’s impeccable skills. Especially in this issue, there is a rich mixture of scenes that come together seamlessly under her pencils. The warmth that the tale evokes for the future of Wakanda is aided by softer ink lines from Roberto Poggi and by Rachelle Rosenberg’s earthy color palette as well.

Nothing feels ostentatious or out of place in World of Wakanda‘s panels. Visually speaking, the artwork is pared down to the essentials, making sure to focus on the characters’ emotional journeys first and then providing a realistic backdrop that ties the action to Black Panther‘s sense of place.

Verdict: It has been a joy to read World of Wakanda over the last few months, and I’m sorry to see it come to an end. Anyone who hasn’t been reading it should absolutely go back to the beginning and take it all in before continuing Black Panther, because it truly brings a new perspective to that already rich story.

Star Rating: 5 out of 5

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