The King Of Mistrust: Reviewing ‘Black Panther’ #2
by Scott Redmond
Black Panther’s new run continues and delves much deeper into the political spy thriller realm, allowing the cast to explore more & speak their minds about the actions of a king. There is such a cinematic quality to this series, as the art team infuses every page with powerful energy and unique look.
Trust. This is a feeling that doesn’t come lightly to many within our world and it’s something that is often hard to give or to earn. That’s especially so if one was the king of a technologically advanced formerly hidden nation that inherently mistrusts the motives of those around him, even those that are seen to be allies or friends.
Years of mistrust from T’Challa have come back to bite the Black Panther, as his network of sleeper agents are in danger and the world very well might learn just how far the depths of his mistrust go.
While I liked the first issue of this new series, it felt somewhere in the middle to me because it had so much to layout. This second issue though changes that. There is a much better flow and speed going on here because we now know the lay of the land and things kick off and keep going.
John Ridley’s approach here is interesting because we see the ways that the different sleeper agents act when T’Challa and Omolola (one of the agents herself) approach them about the danger. There are flashes of bitterness, joy, fear, and downright refusal to leave in some cases as some have actually built lives and families in this time. At the same time, while T’Challa is the main character of the book, Ridley makes sure that there is never anything that points to T’Challa’s choice and mistrust being ‘the right thing’ to do.
Others call him out for it at times, and he lays out his reasons, but it’s not stated whether it’s right or wrong because it’s not that simple of a notion. History is full of similar incidents as this, where countries infiltrated others because of their inherent lack of trust. Even now it’s beyond common for all the major nations to spy on one another in various ways. Whether right or wrong, it’s happening and it’s not really shocking that T’Challa feels this way.
We also get some good bits with Shuri here as she starts an investigation, and the action beats work well as we see more of these mysterious assassins. Though the mystery is still unfolding, so we don’t get any closer to discovering who they are or who sent them/knows about what T’Challa did. With how quickly they move from target to target, having potentially used T’Challa to do the tracking for them, it seems likely they have some connection to him or Wakanda itself potentially.
Juan Cabal and Federico Blee are just a fantastic team for this series as it’s truly beautiful, full of energy, and has some unique visuals especially when it comes to Wakandan technology in use. I enjoy how Cabal’s work moves from very detailed to less detailed, sometimes panel to panel, depending on the mood or the focus he’s trying to highlight in that moment. As noted last time the way he handles paneling here is so cinematic in quality, with the use of varied panel sizes and shifting them around with all the great black and white spaces that border the panels. Such slick and smooth action scenes that feel like they might actually move before your eyes if you stare at them long enough.
Even with this being a heavier spy story about trust issues, Blee’s colors bring a great bit of superhero book bright pop right alongside the darker and heavier shadows that are always around the corner. There is also a great blend of more ‘natural’ colors for the world around them/action scenes and the bolder brighter purples and reds and such that come with these fantastical worlds. The pages with Shuri doing her investigation with the bright blue of the holograms that surround her look fantastic and help hit home just how advanced and beyond others Wakanda is in so many ways.
Lettering is Joe Sabino’s domain, and he nails it again as the lettering has the same bright bold, and cinematic energy of everything else in the book. There is a heavy weight to the SFX that pops up in the action scenes, while the dialogue for various characters has variety and some personality flair to it. I love it when SFX are big and take up a ton of real estate to really home in on how big the moment is (whether an explosion or some other loud sound) overall. We even get an emotional panel where the scream dialogue takes up the whole dark black background behind the character, in bright red letters, that just sticks with you.
This book as a spy thriller is working right now, and there are some great character moments and logical discussions to be had about what T’Challa has done. Curious to see where it goes in the subsequent issues.
Black Panther #2 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.