Stolen Ideas and Intellectual Subjugation in Black Panther 3

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Slavery is an indescribably cruel, evil, downright sadistic practice that robs its victims of so much, down to their very humanity. Issue one of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ and Daniel Acuña’s Black Panther used T’Challa’s capture at the hands of the intergalactic Wakandan Empire to explore how slavery strips its victims of their names, gods, homes, and heritage, and now issue three uses this same concept to explore a totally different side of the atrocity that is slavery: how it robs its victims of their intellectual property and potential. Continue reading

Captain America 1 Addresses the Change We Wish We Didn’t See

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. […] We need not wait to see what others do.

Mahatma Gandhi

You might be more familiar with this quote as it is often paraphrased, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” It’s a (hilariously self-actualized) misquote that kinda sorta captures the sentiment of the original, paring a nuanced sentiment down to something that could fit on a bumper sticker. But we only need to think about the cheery optimism of that bumper sticker for a moment to see the pessimism inherent in it. We can be the solution to the world’s problems, sure, but only because we’re already the cause of them. We need to change because we are what the world is — any problems in it are caused by us (whether by malice, ignorance, or complacency).

It’s a lesson many Americans learned (too late) after Donald Trump was elected. Not because we voted for him, but because we thought not voting for him was enough. We thought we were the solution to the problems we saw in the world, but didn’t appreciate how we were also the problem. We saw the battle over the future of this country as an “us vs. them,” failing to understand that there is only an “us,” that we can only be the solution when we accept that we are the problem. We thought fascism was a thing that happened in other countries, and that America would band together to reject it. We were wrong. Few people understand this (or have articulated it quite as clearly) as Ta-Nehisi Coates, which makes him the ideal writer to tackle Captain America, a series also coming to terms with its own in-universe convulsions of fascism. Continue reading

An Overemphasis on Action Leaves Everything Else Feeling Slight in Black Panther 2

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

With this new volume of Black Panther, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has thrown readers into the deep end of his story, giving us no clue how T’Challa came to be abducted by the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, and very little reassurance that the T’Challa we’re following even is the same T’Challa from Coates’ previous volume. It’s a fun little mystery, and one where the fact that neither readers nor T’Challa know any answers has immense thematic parallels, but also one that really just hovers around the margins of Black Panther 2. Even as the mystery grows greater, this issue is an action spotlight, a car chase first and foremost. Continue reading

Black Panther 1: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Taylor: The other day I was in a tabletop game store and played a great game called “Clank!” It was so fun that I ended up buying it, but not before having to choose between the original version, set in a typical fantasy setting, and another version set in space. I went with the original because it suits the game better, but it reminded me that I’m a sucker for anything re-imagined in space. That being said, I was super excited to learn about a new Black Panther series set in outer-space and am delighted to say that after reading the first issue, it doesn’t disappoint. Continue reading

Using Our Voices to Help, Not Hurt in Black Panther 171

By Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Our voices make us powerful. They allow us to make bonds and forge connections with one another, they allow us to speak out against oppression and injustice, they allow us to express our innermost desires and emotions, to be heard. Unfortunately, some voices are louder than others. Voices of men, voices of white people, they have a platform that women or people of color are so often denied access to, a platform that amplifies their voice, not only giving their words too much power, but drowning out the voices of others. This is first and foremost a problem for those whose voices are being drowned out, of course, but it’s also a problem for those doing the speaking; they’re so busy talking that they’re not listening, and that means they’re missing out on a lot of vital information. Continue reading

An Unsettling Twist Changes the Game in Black Panther 170

By Drew Baumgartner

Black Panther 170

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Black Panther 170 is by all measures a climactic issue. Indeed, with so many of T’Challa’s villains and allies joining the fray, the bulk of the issue has a decidedly “Battle of the Five Armies” feel to it, which artist Leonard Kirk captures in all of its chaotic glory.

FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

We may suspect a quieter, more personal denouement down the line — Klaw, Stane, Faustus, and Zenzi are nowhere near this fight — but this feels like the big army battle before things tighten back up to Black Panther tracking down the villains and rescuing his kidnapped friend. We think we know where this is going, but then writer Ta-Nehisi Coates yanks the rug out from under us on a stunning final page turn. [Major spoilers after the break!] Continue reading

Black Panther Annual 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Desaulniers

Black Panther Annual 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Drew: Over the past two weeks, countless articles have been written about the world-building in the Black Panther film. It’s obviously something the movie does remarkably well, combining a kind of anthropological survey of African culture with a sci-fi utopia for an Afrofuturist aesthetic that is unique in the world of blockbuster movies. Moreover, that world-building was essential in ingratiating a new audience to the character and his home country, implying a rich culture that stretched far beyond what we saw on the screen. Of course, superhero comics — especially long-running ones — are often more interested in what has already been built than they are in what is new, trading on our nostalgia for familiar events and characters in a way that a single film obviously can’t. There’s certainly a case to be made for honoring the storied history of any character in that way, though the approach may be at odds with appealing to newcomers (who may have been brought in by, say, a widely popular movie), all of which puts Black Panther Annual 1 in a difficult position. Is it aimed at newcomers looking for an approachable entry into comics after seeing the movie, or is it aimed at long-time readers who are already duly familiar with the character’s history? Continue reading

Silence is Golden in Black Panther 169

By Ryan Desaulniers

Black Panther 169

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

All comics are silent comics. This is an immutable fact due to their very nature as a static, visual medium. This makes it all the more impressive that artists can imbue a page with a bevvy of techniques which trick our beautiful brains into not only interpreting some onamonpaeatic words as sound, but even suggest the sound’s quality in a way that we, as readers, hardly notice as we go. Black Panther 169 takes away the sense of perceived sound and employs a level of visual storytelling which this title had not yet utilized, making for a gripping read, one focused on two characters, in opposition, in a high-stakes sprint to their objectives. Continue reading

Rise of the Black Panther 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Desaulniers

Rise of the Black Panther 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“Spinoff!” Is there any word more thrilling to the human soul?

Troy McClure, “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase”

Drew: That epigraph might seem a bit glib, but while I understand the criticisms spinoffs get for being uninspired or safe, I’d never dismiss a spinoff as a matter of course. Case in point: The Simpsons is technically a spinoff from The Tracey Ullman Show, but that didn’t stop it from becoming arguably the greatest sitcom of all time. And actually, the discrete nature of The Tracey Ullman Show might just have been part of what makes The Simpsons so successful — there isn’t the temptation to feature cameos from the original show, the way Frasier might with Cheers, for example. That is, The Simpsons could operate in its own world, untethered to the sensibilities of its origin. Unfortunately, despite the decades that separate The Rise of the Black Panther from its main series, it never really manages to form its own identity. Continue reading

Focus vs. Multiple Fronts in Black Panther 168

By Ryan Desaulniers

Black Panther 168

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box

Whether you’re writing an indie comic title or trying to pen the next billion-dollar Star Wars film, a great place to start is by asking, “What is the hardest thing for my characters to do?” True character, after all, is revealed through the most difficult decisions they’re forced to undertake. After a very interesting tangent in Black Panther 166 to meet the new Klaw, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates tries to pile on the challenges facing King T’Challa and the rest of his royal court of protagonists, but is it better to assault a character from all sides, or to offer one clear, powerful opposing force? Continue reading