BLACK PANTHER #16
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Penciler: Chris Sprouse
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Release Date: July 26, 2017
Plot: As we finger through the pages of Black Panther #16 we can see that T’Challa is still researching the issues surrounding the lack of the African gods’ presence. He requests Storm’s issue to do this, but he’s also consumed by another focus of his- the kidnapping his old friend, ex-Dora Milaje from Chicago, Asira AKA, Queen Divine Justice (who made her debut in Christopher Priest’s critically acclaimed run of Black Panther in the 90’s). He meets with N’Kano and Asha, Wakandan’s who seemed to have been charged with protecting her. They go on the attack at Club Fenris where they take out the Wrecking Crew (along with a few other minor villians) and find Fenris themselves. Epic battle ensus.
Story: The action in this issue is refreshing. Many past issues of this run have had T’Challa involved in interesting but long winded political conversations that seemed to drag the story along like an anchor. Here we get a fight that well displays the abilities of Black Panther and his team as well as Fenris, who I haven’t seen on comic pages for years. The battle is explosive and defines some of T’Challa’s more subtle methods of conflict resolution.
Another thing I’d like to point out is some deep insight into T’Challa’s character and the race-aware statements made between him and Thunderball, a character we very rarely in any comics get the chance to really learn about. He’s often just the token black member of the Wrecking Crew. However, here we get some insight into his intelligence and the issues of being associated with a successful white person as opposed to just who he is as a black man. I really connected with the few panels Coates used to address this, and it was clever in the way that it was inserted and kept the story moving.
If nothing else, Ta-nehisi Coates uses words like an artist’s brush strokes. Every written word is poetry and I can really appreciate that quality of writing, especially on the pages of a comic book. Not to mention a comic with history as rich as Black Panther’s. His prose matches the regality of Wakanda and everything that the Black Panther should stand for. Take a look at the start of the book when he introduces Storm. He states at the beginning, “The rain in her face is your musing, the Thunder her footsteps, and the wind in your hair is not simply the wind… it is the breath of the world.” That final line culminates with flattering splash page of the goddess that’s breathtaking in tandem.
Art: I am so very glad to so Chris Sprouse back on art for this book. The art in the last few issues were not as flattering as a book of this caliber should be, and seeing his return with strong cut lines, powerful expression and displaying the characters with intense poise, I could not be happier. With Laura Martin’s colors to assist, the book’s art is top notch. The cover, prepares us for the action on the pages. A T’Challa with a battered suit is something to get fans excited and Stelfreeze’s work, as always is some of the best in the industry.
Verdict: Black Panther #16 was one of the better issues of the run. It didn’t feel slow, which is a plague that most of this run struggles with, and it kept the reader interested throughout while hitting on some relatable issues and advancing the story. If the pacing keeps up I think this run is something that I can come to enjoy very much more than I have in some of the earlier issues. Here’s to hoping.
Star Rating: 4 out of 5.