Black Panther #13 Review

by Charles Martin on June 26, 2019

Black Panther #13 Review
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist & Colourist: Daniel Acuña
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics

A new arc begins in the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda story. And if you're starting to get tired of the Buck Rogers stuff, this issue gives you a glimpse of the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel.

T'Challa is reaching out to Wakanda Prime, AKA Earth. And this issue adds heft to his search by taking us home ahead of the king and letting us spend some time with his family.

Wakanda is bountiful. Storm and Shuri agree; the Orisha have returned to bless their favourite land. But what of Bast?

Oh, if only they could see! Bast is hanging around on the Maroon's ship in her new, super-catty incarnation. She's poking holes in the rebels' egalitarian principles and coming within a hair's breadth of telling M'Baku he's overstayed his welcome in the boss chair.

T'Challa's super-sciencey attempts to contact Earth are draining the ship's power and endangering his compatriots. That's the ground-level complaint M'Baku uses to launch a blistering critique of the Panther and his current priorities.

The argument evolves in both ideas and action. The two men inevitably come to blows, and M'Baku also skewers T'Challa with valid concerns about failing to take up his kingly duties in a responsible way.

Arc theme ahoy!

This story is going to evolve into a big lesson for T'Challa on what it means to be a king. (Great responsibility? In a Marvel comic? What are the odds?) But this first installment allays the fear that the lesson might grow academic or ambiguous or dull. 

M'Baku's complaints are razor-sharp and delivered with harsh brevity. They leave raw wounds and demand passionate responses. T'Challa had better start delivering those responses with wit and heart instead of fists and spears, though, or his rebellion is doomed.

Daniel Acuña is at his painterly best on the art, building up a moody tone and rendering exquisitely realistic characters with muted washes of colour. This issue avoids breaking out super-saturated colours, though, even back in sunny Wakanda. The constrained palette is an asset rather than a liability. The skillful interplay of light and back-light brings the characters into powerful three-dimensional reality, even in the gloomiest of settings.

Most impressively, the art succeeds at investing every part of the M'Baku/T'Challa conflict with weight. It may even go too far. I can't speak for all readers, but for me, the tense, emotional faces in the argument portion were more memorable than the judo-tossing action that came later.

Ta-Nehisi Coates's script is finely tuned. The great philosophical currents are left to run beneath the surface. The dialogue is direct and meaningful. It's the force of ideas that give the words weight instead of flowery poetics. Which is not to say that the language lacks beauty. But right now, this story is being driven by conflict - most especially by the clash of ideas between M'Baku and T'Challa.

The Black Panther is starting his return to Earth. There's plenty of development that needs to be done before we leave the sci-fi realm, though. M'Baku makes it violently clear that T'Challa isn't ready to mount a throne, not in outer space or Wakanda. He has more enemies to conquer within and without. Cool, moody art and sharp language promise that the story of those final conquests will be exciting.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
It doesn't seem too likely, but I really hope this arc brings Shuri and cat-brat Bast together before it's through.