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Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 2 Paperback – January 24, 2017
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Well, I suppose from 2016, so not the most recent - but the run by Ta-Nehisi Coates has been raved about by fellow fans of T'Challa so it was about time I took a look.
I've long been a fan of Black Panther - I tend to gravitate towards heroes who aren't mighty gods or universe-menacing Phoenixes - and so the combination of genius scientist and stealthy warrior has long appealed.
I'll confess, though, that I'm awfully glad that I bought book two at the same time as book one. Coates takes his time to find his feet with his story - or rather, more to the point, he has a big story to tell but sometimes in volume one rushes through the actual telling, and you end up piecing a couple of the parts of the tale together in your head rather than reading it on the page. He's much more in his stride by the second volume, so if you find yourself put off a little by the opening collection, stick with it, it comes together much better as the issues go by.
The story itself tackles the tale of Black Panther as king, fighting to hold together his kingdom from threats within and without. He isn't all-seeing or all-wise, rather he's a man underneath the legend, making political choices that might not always be for the best, but are mostly made with the best intentions.
The tale tackles issues of nationalism, identity, monarchism and democracy - weighty matters that go beyond the usual supervillain hokum of many comics. Sometimes, that strays into territory of infodumping, but as I say, the method of telling the story keeps improving.
I'm not terribly sure it will serve as a great introduction to readers for the Black Panther movie - but it's a powerful look at the world the comics character inhabits - with a wider landscape than his stories are often afforded.
Along with this theme of the past's influence on the present, the writing here is clear and evocative. In Marvel's current set of comics, I find Black Panther to be the strongest in writing.
With dramatic cliffhangers, fun team ups and steady doses of action Black Panther is a breezy and enjoyable read. And if someone ever looks down on you for reading a comic, just let them the dialogue...that should shut them up😉