Writer: Eve L. Ewing
Art: Chris Allen
Inks: Chris Allen and Craig Yeung
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 14th, 2023
T’Challa has been exiled from Wakanda after Wakanda transitions from a Monarchy to a Democracy. T’Challa refuses to leave his beloved country, now living in the far northern border of Wakanda, in the desolate city of Birnin T’Chaka. There, he’s very much like Daredevil, patrolling the city at night and staying in the shadows, a defender of the downtrodden in the city. It’s a harsh change for T’Challa, a man who was once King of Wakanda, and in Black Panther #1, he visits a person from his past, trying to figure out his new status quo, even as the Hatut Zeraze, a Mafia-style criminal organization, tightens its grip on the city.
Black Panther #1 is the beginning of what promises to be an intriguing storyline, turning T’Challa’s world upside down and making him a “Stranger in a Strange Land” in his own country. It takes him out of the cosmic setting he’s been in for the last few years and makes him a street-level hero, defending the city of Birnin T’Chaka with only his armor, his fighting skills and his wits, all while staying in the shadows. Birnin T’Chaka is as much of a character in the book as T’Challa is. Despite the fact it’s the “Hell’s Kitchen” of Wakanda, it’s still a dazzling place. I love the architecture of the buildings within it and that it’s not packed with futuristic technology like other areas of Wakanda are. This city seems like a more advanced version of New York City.
As for T’Challa, he’s still reeling from everything that’s recently happened to him, and he’s surprisingly off-guard and lost. It compels him to reach out to a character from his past, named N’Yobi Umaru. N’Yobi’s a lawyer with a good heart, who gives away so much free law advice it has put him in financial straits. Being a very stoic man, grounded in reality, he could become a good sidekick or friend for T’Challa. The issue ends with the debut of one of the most visually striking characters I’ve seen in a long time. She’s a mystery (not even her name is given), but I can’t wait to see more of her her brief tantalizing appearance this issue.
Chris Allen’s art in Black Panther #1 is streamlined and detailed. Especially captivating are the skyscrapers and streets of Birnin T’Chaka. I loved the look of the city and the styles of the people within it, and I look forward to seeing more of the city in future issues. Also striking is the design of the character that appears toward the end of the issue, who promises to be a new nemesis for Black Panther. Her costume is unique, her body partially covered in wraps, gauntlets on her forearms and an Ant-Man style helmet (adorned with horns) on her head. She’s an amazing looking character.
Black Panther #1 kicks off the new series by turning Black Panther’s world upside-down. Lost, fighting crime in the shadows and questioning his existence, it gives us a fascinating look at a Black Panther we’ve never seen before. We get some great action throughout the issue too, and I look forward to seeing where the book goes from this strong first issue.