Review: Black Panther: Civil War

black panther: civil war graphic novel coverThe Black Panther: Civil War collection opens with T’Challa and his new bride, Ororo Munroe (Storm of the X-Men) receiving a mysterious invitation to visit Latveria from Doctor Doom. Thus is set in motion a series of events that conspire to draw T’Challa and the country of Wakanda into the Marvel Universe’s Civil War.

Oscar nominated screenwriter and director Reginald Hudlin handles the writing duties of this run, bringing with him a cinematic sensibility that easily lends itself to the comic book medium. Hudlin deftly weaves backstory into the main narrative arc without getting bogged down in the Marvel Universe’s historical minutia. He is aided in no small part by a cadre of talented artists who use lines and shadows to infused each panel with kinetic energy.

While all of the illustrators are skilled, of particular note is the work of the artistic team consisting of: penciler Manuel Garcia, inkers Mark Morales, Sandu Florea, and colorist Matt Milla. Their work pays homage to, and at the same time reinterprets the classic artwork of legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby. In their hands the panels capture the epic scale of the combat, drawing the action with an electric intensity.

The seven issue story arc covers a wide scope of the Marvel Universe. The Black Panther interacts with most of the major A-list Marvel Universe characters and Hudlin reaches deep into the Marvel roster for cameos from lesser known characters. Moreover, there are plenty of Easter eggs for those well acquainted with Marvel mythology.

Hudlin fully explores the character of T’Challa and does not neglect the country of Wakanda and its internal politics. Wakanda is presented as a technologically advanced wonderland where the Digital Age and the Pre-Industrial Age meet. Further, Storm is more than just T’Challa’s arm candy, she is a strong character written with depth, who more of a co-star than a mere supporting character.

Black Panther: Civil War is a good introduction to the character for new readers who want to do homework on the character before 2018 movie starring Chadwick Boseman hits theaters. For veteran Black Panther fans, this is a comfortable return to a familiar character given some new twists.

Black Panther: Civil War, collecting Black Panther Issues 19-25. Written by Reginald Hudlin, Illustrations by Scot Eaton, Manuel Garcia, Koi Turnbull and Marcus To. Published Mar 9, 2016.

Review by Euell Thomas.

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