Review: Black Panther Vol. 1- A Nation Under Our Feet

Quick Summary

Pros: The story here is very unique and different from a normal comic book. It focuses on politics and political dealings in a way that shows how interesting they can be. Plus, there are still bits of action for those looking for it.

Cons: If you are looking for a “standard” superhero story with plenty of action and fighting, this may not be the series for you.

Overall: This is an interesting and unique series with a lot of potential. It uses the wonderful backdrop of Wakanda to tell a story of political maneuvering, nationalism, and ultimately, insurrection. It is an interesting spin on the typical superhero story in a way that works very well. If the series retains the quality found in these first few issues, it is going to be great.

Collection Notes

This collection also includes the first ever appearance of Black Panther, Fantastic Four #52. However, since this issue is completely separate from the rest of the story in every way, we will not be reviewing it in this review.

Story

These few issues, which are contained in Black Panther Vol. 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, are a solid start to a new chapter in the history of Black Panther. Ta-Nehisi Coates takes what we love about Black Panther and gives it a new degree of depth. New characters and conflicts force an examination of both T’Challa and Wakanda that is very interesting to experience.

This is a very different superhero book. It does not have tons of action or many intense scenes filled with super powered beings fighting each other. Instead, it follows the story of a man trying to hold his country together in a political sense. For some, this may not be as enjoyable as having a multitude of pages where heroes and villains trade blows. However, for others, myself included, it comes as a breath of fresh air and a fun change-up on the superhero model.

(spoilers start here)

This is mostly because the real star of this book is the political turmoil of Wakanda. Different rebel groups are popping up throughout the country, all declaring that the current government does not work. This starts with a woman influencing a riot and ends with rebels bombing the royal family. Readers watch as they make progress toward their goal of overthrowing the government, only to have Black Panther shut them down before significant progress is made. These opposing forces are surprisingly evenly matched which provides for some thrilling suspense throughout the book.

The twist on this is that these rebels are not necessarily villains. In fact, there is an argument to be made that the rebels are doing what is right and that Black Panther is the true villain. For example, it is clear that some of the village chieftains are committing crimes against the people of Wakanda, yet it is the rebels who stop them when the crown did not. It is even easy to sympathize with the rhetoric of the rebels, especially since Black Panther is defending a monarchy with complete control over the people. It will be interesting to see where this portion of the story goes and how it will develop from here.

I thoroughly enjoyed this twist because it is a nicer version of what happened in the Doomwar storyline. In Doomwar, political pressure in Wakanda increased until the people eventually revolted and overthrew the government, somewhat similar to what is happening in this story. However, in Doomwar, it was revealed that Dr. Doom was behind the entire coup, while this story’s rebellion truly comes from the people. It is a recognition that Wakanda may not be perfect and a closer examination at what Black Panther stands for. While Doomwar ended with Wakanda’s monarchy being further solidified, it will be interesting to see if anything different happens in this story.

(spoilers end here)

Art

Brian Stelfreeze does a fantastic job with the art in this collection. The artwork is crisp, clean, and detailed in a way that makes it a joy to look at. Wakanda looks great as Stelfreeze combines the tribal and technological aspects of it perfectly. It brings a new level of technology to the most advanced city in the world.

Plus, his take on Black Panther’s suit is nearly perfect. It is sleek and streamlined in the best way possible, making T’Challa look more cool than ever. In particular, I love the way that he portrays the technology in the suit. It makes subtle appearances, enough so that readers see it is there, but not so often that it becomes distracting.

Continuity

The last Black Panther series ended years before this one started so it does not directly continue any one specific storyline. Instead, it is the combination of multiple different stories which led to the start of this series. Specifically, the events of Doomwar, Avengers vs. X-Men, and Avengers: Time Runs Out play a big part in this history behind this story.

The story started here continues in Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 2 (Review).

The story also references a previous story, listed below:

Collection Notes

Every issue in found in this collection can also be found in:

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