The third issue of Marvel Action: Black Panther concludes the first story arc in the title as T’Challa and Shuri battle to save Wakanda from deadly disasters.
Continuing from the literal cliffhanger ending in the last issue, T’Challa, Shuri, and Ashei are left to travel through the jungles of Wakanda to reach their downed plane and the cure they need to stop the malaria outbreak that’s threatening the population. The journey through the jungle is a little bit of a disappointment, as the trio don’t really have any difficulty in reaching their destination, despite a moment of thinking that things could have gotten exciting when Ashei trips over a giant snake. Sadly, the snake does nothing and its inclusion in the story seems like more of a tease rather than anything else.
Fortunately for readers, things do go a little wrong for the heroes as the plan to stop the malaria outbreak is interrupted, forcing Shuri to confront her fear of Piranha Cove by having to jump into the piranha infested waters to lure the infected mosquito swarm to their deaths. We also learn why this is a big thing for Shuri, as Queen Ramonda explains to her royal guard that one of her friends got hurt as a kid. Whilst this explanation is almost a throwaway moment it does show how Shuri has been living with trauma for years. Her diving into the cove isn’t just her doing what needs to be done to save the day, but overcoming her own childhood trauma.
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The story also sees a surprise revelation about a long time Black Panther villain, in a twist I genuinely didn’t see coming, and which shows how much care has been taken by writer Kyle Baker. The book also boasts a lot of great artwork by Juan Samu, who really manages to put a lot of expression and character into the artwork; even masked characters like Black Panther are capable of showcasing more range than you’d initially believe possible. The previously mentioned giant snake was also a highlight in the issue, despite its all too brief appearance, thanks to how Samu draws it. More of the snake would have been good not just from an action point of view, but I’d have loved to have seen more of what Samu could have done with it.
A fine conclusion to the first story that touches upon some little known Black Panther history. However, the story really pushes Shuri into the forefront, and whilst I like that her character was given things to do it did feel like Black Panther himself was almost not needed. Hopefully T’Challa will be given something more to do in future issues.