BLACK PANTHER #15
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Penciler: Wilfredo Torres and Adam Gorham
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Plot: The gods of Wakanda are missing. In Black Panther #15, the Dora Milaje are engaged with yet another group of extradimensional creatures of the past, this time called The Vanyan. As we know, in Black Panther #14, T’Challa located the sorcerer that survived the incursions (that lead into the 2015 event Secret Wars), named Zawavari. He inquired about the creatures attacking Wakanda and the absence of the gods there.
Story: Something that I’ve noticed about Ta-nehisi Coates’ run of Black Panther, and something I’ll mention time and time again, is that it’s slow. Slow isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but depending on the kind of reader you are, it can be. Coates is a comprehensive storyteller. Each issue is rich and each page and line of dialogue is full of such substance and beautiful writing that it would be a sin not to mention it. The issue lies in the fact that despite this, many readers don’t consume the story in that way. This run of Black Panther is something that you sit and lounge with on a Sunday afternoon, along with a glass of tea with three cubes of ice. The pages are slow turns and while there is action, there’s a poetry in the writing that you have to take the time to truly enjoy. I’ve learned that when I read this book. I understand that it is slow, and I afford myself more patience per month with it. It’s how I learned to enjoy it more.
Black Panther #15 was mainly fighting with more surmising about the loss of the Wakandan gods. We get the Dora Milaje pulling off X-men tactics against the Vanyan, and Shuri showcasing more of her power, by summoning the essence of warriors of the past in the Jabari land. I must say, the character I have most enjoyed during this series is Shuri. She’s had the most character development in a mental and physical sense. Coates has done an amazing job with her. The summoning scene displayed both her power and Coates’ unique way with words.
Of course, most of the dialogue in this book is something to behold. When Zawavari does his part to restore balance to the area, we get yet another dosage of his beautiful use of words. Still, to quick comic readers these lines can easily be missed, as well as key things that move the story forward, albeit slowly. When Zawavari mentions “The Originals” it gives the foreboding sense that something more powerful than the Wakandan gods may be on their way, which is exciting, but how long will we have to wait for it? And what will entertain us until that time comes? It feels much like the things that happened in the last three issues could’ve happened in one or two.
However, patience is the key to this book. With another puzzle piece to be solved, concerning the storm, we get the introduction to the expert on weather- Storm herself. In the few times that Ororo and T’Challa have met in this run, we can feel the emotional tension and attraction between them. Their intimate dialogue and touches have us hoping that they are able to mend their broken relationship, and it seems that they might, but we won’t know for sure until we see more. For now, we can look forward to Storm being involved in Black Panther for at least the next issue if not more.
Art: The cover on this issue was a little different from past issues, but definitely effective in its own right for getting readers excited about what’s in the book. How often do we get a cover with the Panther in action? Here, we can see him decking one of the Vanyan in the head with a punch that seems to be utilizing the vibranium in his suit for extra effect. In the backdrop we get Shuri also fighting one of the beasts. I love Brian Stelfreeze and he delivered on the cover.
On the pages, we have two different artists, Wilfredo Torres who’s been on in the past and Adam Gorham. Torres is not my favorite artist on this book. I don’t think his lines are as detailed as I’d like to see and his proportions and angles seem to be off at times. There are many times where I am cringing at the beginning fight with Ayo and Aneka in the Midnight Angel armor. It’s especially disappointing to see after the original design by Stelfreeze looked so amazing. I was certainly underwhelmed. Torres does seem to do better in scenes with less action and Zawavari does have a great look, especially on the page when he ‘ports T’Challa and Shuri in. And Shuri looks amazing on her detail shot when she summons the warriors in. Still, some of the action shots look good and some of them look way off.
When the art changes, it’s very distinct. I mean wow, Gorham is heavy on the ink. In my eyes, this is a good thing. It adds another layer to the art. And the first large shot of Shuri is quite stunning. Her physique is incredible! I like his thicker, darker line work for the book, and I think that if Stelfreeze or Sprouse aren’t available, he should be the one to fill in. I’d love to see more of his work. And as always, Laura adds amazing colors no matter what artist she’s working with. I’ve really enjoyed her on this run of Black Panther and I’m glad she’s part of the project.
Verdict: This is a fun issue and full of great action, but I still feel like it’s sticking to his nature of the slow burn. It is certainly working in this arc better than the last. I think one reason is due to the fact that Coates is no longer hammering on T’challa’s uncertainty about being King and his duties as King. That was hurting him before. Now we have a new more interesting arc, but the pacing requires a patient reader. I’d almost recommend those that are less patient to grab the trade, so that you can read it all together. However, at the same time, I think doing that would keep people from really enjoying the substance of Coates’ art. I’m hoping to see more in the next issue. I am enjoying the book, but not as much as I think I should given how long the story takes to tell and the few (minor) art issues.
Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5