Marvel drops a nigh-perfect debut on us with 'Rise of the Black Panther'

Marvel drops a nigh-perfect debut on us with ‘Rise of the Black Panther’

By Brandy Dykhuizen. Our Week In Review sums up our weekly comic book coverage while taking time for a new review or two before it’s all over. This week: ‘Rise of the Black Panther’, ‘Secret Weapons’, and Transformers vs. Visionaries’.

Week in Review: Rise of the Black Panther #1Rise of the Black Panther #1

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Evan Narcisse with Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Art by Paul Renaud.

Colors by Stephane Paitreau.

Letters by Joe Sabino.

Rise of the Black Panther #1 begins with that ol’ Rutuku chestnut: “You people have something of value, and only we know how to use it properly, so it’s ours now.” Superior technology somehow still can’t convince white interlopers that Wakandans can handle their own resources. It’s an origin story, not just of T’Challa, but of the colonial mindset in general.

While expansionism weaves in and out, the real show stealer is N’Yami, T’Challa’s birth mother, and her story told from the pages of her journal. Her background has always been a bit of a mystery, but now we get a glimpse into the mind of the strong and brilliant woman who brought T’Challa into the world. What we learn of her scientific prowess and relationship with T’Chaka sets the stage for how we view T’Challa’s transformation into the Wakandan King.

Evan Narcisse constructs T’Challa’s origin as a carefully dense and detailed saga; not just the early experiences that shaped him, but all the motivations and hesitations that were considered well before his birth. Every key character receives careful attention. No panel is superfluous. From cover to cover, this book dives deep into the mythos of the Black Panther, leaving little room for misinterpretation. Narcisse and Paul Renaud want to make sure you understand all the facts before forging ahead. If this first installment is any indication, Rise of the Black Panther will be a revelatory and beautiful mini-series.

9 out of 10

Week in Review: Secret Weapons #0Secret Weapons #0

Valiant/$3.99

Written by Eric Heisserer.

Art by Adam Pollina.

Colors by David Baron.

Letters by A Larger World Studio.

Nikki Finch is on a mission to figure out what makes her tick. There’s got to be something that sets her apart from her peers, and when the Harada Foundation takes a surprise interest in her, she can’t help but take the bait. Like most teens, she’s eager to find her path in the world, and if a mysterious and persistent company is the only entity that believes in her, then off to their cryptic campus she must go.

Eric Heisserer’s story focuses almost solely on Nikki, giving us an intimate knowledge of her hopes and insecurities. Adam Pollina unfolds Nikki’s story in four stacked panels per page, most of which place the protagonist smack in the center of a wide format shot. This gives the reader the feeling of fast-forwarding through the film of Nikki’s life, watching her outgrow her ambitions and disappointments at the dizzying speed with which she changes hairstyles. It’s all about reinventing yourself at that age, but the consistent framework and Nikki’s placement on the page reminds us that it’s still the same Nikki at heart, despite the surrounding chaos.

There’s a lack of action that might discourage some readers – not everyone loves a detailed character study – but the premise is still exciting and the hyper-focus on Nikki makes for a surprisingly relatable psiot. I would have loved to have seen more conversations between Ms. Finch and the birds (because who hasn’t wished they could talk to animals), but this is a backstory, and an altogether well-executed one at that.

8 out of 10

Week In Review: Transformers vs. Visionaries #1Transformers vs. Visionaries #1

IDW Publishing/$3.99

Written by Magdalene Visaggio.

Art by Fico Ossio.

Colors by David Garcia Cruz.

Letters by Gilberto Lazcano.

Sharing doesn’t come naturally to many creatures. Transformers vs. Visionaries #1 taps into that tricky survival instinct that causes a species to cater to their own needs at the expense of the other. The Visionaries land on Cybertron just looking for a place to begin the repopulation process, but when they learn of the Transformers’ existence, real estate suddenly starts feeling a bit tight.

It’s a tale as old as boats – the brave explorers use the best interest of their people as an excuse for stirring the pot with the indigenous. Nothing good usually comes out of mistaking prevention for progress. It’s certainly a premise that can go far in bringing the Transformers and Visionaries together on the same pages, and Magdalene Visaggio and Fico Ossio combine these two worlds seamlessly.

In this story of man vs. machine, the refugees may wind up the victors, at least for a little while. But if it’s natural resources you’re looking for, drilling down into the center of the planet with a highly volatile weapon may not be the way to go. For a book based on a pair of 1980’s children’s toy lines, the conceits can run heavy. Visaggio throws enough of an ensemble cast in the story to please long-time fans and satisfy nostalgia, while focusing the spotlight on a select few to ensure the plot remains engaging. It’s a fun trip down Saturday morning cartoon memory lane.

7.5 out of 10

From earlier this week — 

The Year to Come — CASUAL WEDNESDAYS WITH DOOMROCKET

Undercover, or: Five covers from this week that we won’t live without

EXCLUSIVE: Scoob and the gang take a nice dip in the sewers in ‘Scooby Apocalypse’ #21

Pulp roots run deep in ‘The Shadow/Batman’ #4

Piskor’s ‘X-Men: Grand Design’ a daring (and glorious) ode to Marvel’s merry mutants

What books did YOU read this week? We want to know! Tell us about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.