by Arpad Okay. As promised, Black Panther begins its dive into the magic and memory that lies beneath modern day Wakanda. Those bookends are a parable, a dream of the past that feels so remote it is like a fable, clearing the ashes of the strange today it begot. Storm clouds gather and lightning flashes above eroded fields. If you wanted to walk into this series right now, with this issue, you could. Ta-Nehisi Coates knows how to tell a story in parts but keep each installment dynamic.

This is also due to the larger-than-life spirit of Black Panther‘s characters. T’Challa, Ayo and Aneka, Tetu, they all have names and stories behind the masks. But more than that they have all individually risen to bear the burden of their tremendous responsibilities. Good and bad, everyone in Black Panther is a deeply empathetic human being. Their emotions rule their presence in its pages as much as their past does. T’Challa is wrecked with sorrow. Tetu is blinded by conviction. Ayo and Aneka are in love. Each of them is so much more than a character in a comic book. Black Panther is concerned with what we were, what we are, what we dare to become.

It is concerned with putting down the spear for the drum. Stelfreeze gives us lots of gorgeous and thoughtful new costumes and technology. But magic rises to meet it, magic that clothes the powerless — even the bodiless. The power folks have to resist is greater than any tool fashioned by man to control them. Black Panther is the clash of the mysteries of the past. Mysteries that were never really lost, only forgotten against the structures built to replace them.

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze.

Colored by Laura Martin.

Lettered by Joe Sabino.

9 out of 10