Visions Of Secret Romance: Reviewing ‘Wakanda’ #4

by Scott Redmond


‘Wakanda’ continues to journey through the various settings and characters of past and present that call the fictional nation home, creating something mostly unique. Hopefully, this opens space for more anthologies of this nature that can explore the rich tapestry that is Wakanda.


Anthology series have so much to offer, often giving us the chance to explore characters or settings in a deeper way. For comics, it’s a good way to give more insight about characters that are newer or lesser used if there isn’t room to do so in the regular issues of a main series. This is the space that Wakanda fills right now, with this issue turning its eyes towards one of the characters John Ridley created for the main about-to-wrap Black Panther series.

I like this series overall, let’s get that right out there on the record (though it is on the record with my previous three reviews, but still). That being said, I do feel like this series should have been flipped around. By that, I mean that the ‘History Of The Black Panthers’ backups by Evan Narcisse, Natcha Bustos, and Jordie Bellaire should have been the main storyline of this series with the smaller character-focused pieces as backups. Don’t get me wrong, what these creators have done in just a few short pages each month has been stellar but imagine getting a whole issue dedicated to these prior Black Panthers and how they shaped Wakanda over the centuries.

Last issue’s Killmonger story and the one with Tosin in this issue are interesting and tell us a bit about the characters, but honestly could have been much tighter with just a few pages rather than the whole main issue page count. Most of these main stories give us bits of backstory and character moments surrounding them fighting a foe of some kind, in this case, it’s Abomination showing up with all of it tying back to the secret machinations of Shuri’s foe Ohyaku which will culminate in the final issue. I do like the bits that Ridley brings to light here about Tosin’s family situation, why he wants to be a Protector, and the secret romance angle with Kime from the Sisterhood who dabbles in magic.

Julian Shaw tackled Wakanda previously when tapping in for one of the issues of Captain America: Symbol Of Truth, where Sam Wilson came to the country and took on Black Panther and others. There is a smoothness to the style of Shaw’s artwork, with a good level of detail and depth in certain spaces. A lot of the paneling choices are very solid as we get some great long and close shots that establish the setting and tone but also capture some good facial/emotional work.

Just like in the previous issue, Andrew Dalhouse handles the colors of this story and there is a very marked difference between the two issues. While the colors in the previous were more toned down with smaller pops of color, with a bit of roughness, there are far more vibrant color choices here as well as an overall smoother sort of feeling to match Shaw’s artwork. We’re within the realms of Wakanda, for much of this story so the vibrancy of the surrounding natural areas as well as the city itself (seen mostly from a distance) just stand out and call for those brighter color palate choices.

Like I said before, what Narcisse, Bustos, and Bellaire are doing with these backups is just some amazing stuff. Packing whole interesting histories and moments into a few pages but making it feel deeper and longer than that. Bustos shows so much in every panel, making them all count and telling whole stories between what the captions are telling us. Making sure it’s clear what is happening so that even without lettering a story would be visibly told.

Bellaire is one of the best colorists and we see that all the time, especially here as she rotates between cooler and warmer tones of colors, letting the scene dictate whether it needs those pops of color or needs something softer and toned down. Especially the flashback storytelling panels, where the sort of washed-out filters come into play to give things that old-time look.

I stand by my sentiment that this storyline could be full issues because Narcisse has just brought so much together and showcases so much of what has come before in Wakanda, playing within the bounds of established continuity while blowing it wide open. I could read whole issues dedicated to former Black Panthers, over and over again.

Once more Joe Sabino tackles the lettering for both the main and backup stories, nailing it all. It dances between panels perfectly, taking our eyes down the way from one element/moment to the next. Setting up the right tone for any given moment, letting us hear the pain or confusion or anger or whatever else from a character.

Wakanda #4 is now available from Marvel Comics.

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