Marvel Action: Black Panther is the first of the Marvel Action series to focus on a solo hero, even the Marvel Action: Spider-Man series is a team book. There are many heroes that could have been chosen to lead this first solo book, but Black Panther is a great choice. Instead of the somewhat familiar surroundings of New York City, we have the amazing Wakanda in which to see our hero operate.
Anyone who watched the recent Black Panther movie will find the visual aesthetics of the book familiar, with many of the designs either being lifted from the film, such as with Okoye, or heavily influenced by the designs. Because of this, the book becomes a lot easier to read for anyone who may not have picked up a Black Panther comic before, such as myself. This is a new world, one separate from the films, yet feels familiar and comfortable.
The book sees Wakanda facing a bizarre and destructive problem, as the weather within their borders goes out of control, resulting in heatwaves, the loss of crops, wild fires, mudslides, and even a huge tornado. Whilst we get hints in the final panels of the issue that a mining official is responsible for these events I have to admit I spent a lot of time wondering (and hoping) that this might have been an introduction to T’Challa’s ex-wife Ororo Munro, Storm from the X-Men. This might have been something of wishful thinking, as ruining a nation to get back at your ex is a bit out of character for Storm, the fact that it is something a lot closer to home for T’Challa and Wakanda is a much better choice.
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Despite the horrors of a nation suffering and people dying the comic also squeezes in some super-heroics and spectacle as T’Challa must prevent a plane from crashing. How does a character who is mostly an on the ground hero on par with Captain America stop a falling plane? Well, he uses Hulkbuster armour that looks like a giant version of the Black Panther costume. It makes perfect sense for a universe that seems to be following a lot of the visual and stylistic choices made by the films to include a Hulkbuster style armour, but it’s still a moment that comes out of nowhere and takes the reader by surprise.
Artwork is provided by Juan Samu, who has previously provided artwork for other IDW books such as Transformers, Back To The Future, and Mask. Samu presents his own vision of both Black Panther and Wakanda, yet manages to make the book feel like a part of the larger Marvel Action series, with the hero looking just like he does in Marvel Action: Avengers. The characters are instantly recognisable and easy to identify thanks to the fact that he has managed to capture their essence perfectly, even if like with Shuri they don’t match their film counterpart exactly.
With a central mystery that is still to be revealed, and the potential for more surprises and action on par with the Hulkbuster scene, Marvel Action: Black Panther is set to not only be a great addition to the Marvel Action series, but a great choice for their first solo hero.
Marvel Action: Black Panther #1 is now available from IDW Publishing.