Wakanda faces natural disaster in the second issue of Marvel Action: Black Panther as the nation’s weather spirals out of control, and the people face a deadly disease.
Marvel Action: Black Panther feels very different from the other books in the series. Where books such as Avengers or Spider-Man have a very recognisable setting and feature costumed heroes fighting against villains, this book stands out because despite prominently featuring a major hero, it doesn’t feel like a superhero book.
Over the course of the issue Black Panther rescues people from a fire, which is something that we see quite often from costumed heroes, but following that he kind of moves onto the back foot as he tries to find a way to save his people from things that are outside of his control. Readers really get a sense from this issue that T’Challa is a very reactive hero, one who uses his enhanced strength and dexterity to solve problems, yet here he is facing one where throwing punches aren’t the solution.
It’s because of this that his sister Shuri really gets the spotlight. People who watched the Black Panther movie will know that Shuri is a character who is much smarter than her brother, and this issue highlights that. Whilst T’Challa is running around Wakanda saving people, Shuri is working on several problems at once, communicating with her brother, organising medical assistance, trying to find out what’s going on, and all the while trying to dodge calls from her mother.
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The second issue doesn’t move the plot forward in any great ways, and we don’t learn a whole lot new; for example it was pretty obvious who the villain was before Queen Ramonda figured it out. Shuri and T’Challa try to find a way to stop the spread of the malaria that is ravaging the population, but keep getting prevented from doing so, first by a giant sand storm, then alligators, then hippos; it felt a lot like writer Kyle Baker knew where he wanted his characters to be for issue three, and that meant slowing down T’Challa and Shuri so that they don’t get there too soon. However, the almost constant streams of things getting in their way felt a little comical, and silly by the end.
There’s nothing hugely wrong with the issue, but it felt a little lacking. The story doesn’t move forward in any big ways, most of the characters are dull and lacking any agency, and the plot seems to be treading water. Despite this, the artwork by Juan Samu is beautiful, and he makes all of the characters look beautiful, with some amazing design work on the costumes and the buildings in Wakanda. Hopefully the third issue will improve in a number of ways.
Marvel Action: Black Panther #2 is out now from IDW, and available from your local comic shop.