Written by: John Ridley
Art by: Juann Cabal
Colors by: Federico Blee
Letters by: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: December 22, 2021
Black Panther #2 follows T’Challa, Ololola, and Shuri as they seek out the surviving sleeper agents to get them to safety before the mysterious group of assassins come a callin’. Unfortunately for T’Challa, the assassins appear to always be two steps ahead.
Was It Good?
Black Panther #2 is a solid entry in the series and notably better than the prior issue. In issue #1, Black Panther is depicted as a decisive leader but too far over the line towards a despot for comfort with the revelation he’s placed sleeper assassins to take out high-ranking government officials that he deems a threat. Dr. Doom would be proud.
The shock of T’Challa’s fascist has dulled with a little time, and in this issue, we focus on the task at hand – saving the exposed sleeper assassins. Issue #2 solidly moves into exploring how each sleeper assassin has developed a life outside Wakanda, and how the sudden order to return home is generally not received with blind obedience. I like how the sleeper assassins act like real people who develop real connections with the people around them, emphasizing why the order to simply drop everything isn’t as easy as it sounds. The sleeper assassins are acting like real people with real emotions and it makes the trouble more tangible when the “bad guys” show up.
Above the human elements of the story, we get to see Shuri show off cool Wakandan tech in her investigation of the prior attacks. The scenes effectively show (instead of telling) why Shuri is one of the most brilliant minds on Earth, making her an indispensable asset.
The one odd, down point, is (again) strange, out-of-character comments from T’Challa. When running down the list of possible culprits, T’Challa seriously considers the Avengers might be behind the killings. This is a resounding record-scratch moment in the comic because it’s so terribly misplaced. When, at any time, ever have the Avengers dealt with a problem by sending masked assassins to kill a perceived threat? Black Panther is currently the head of the Avengers, so why would he not use his top-level access to investigate that possibility and debunk it immediately rather than step away from the very group he claims to suspect? I don’t know why Ridley put this weird exchange in the book. It makes no sense for the character, it doesn’t fit anything about this world, and the way T’Challa goes about addressing his suspicion makes no sense.
Cabal’s art is great in this book, but the superstar credit goes to Frederico Blee for the outstanding colorwork. It’s can’t be easy to color characters wearing nothing but almost completely solid bodysuits, and the subtle shading and textures bring out the dynamic shapes, especially during fight scenes. Nice work here from Blee.
Bits and Pieces
Black Panther #2 improves on the first issue with a proper detective story and chase plot all rolled into one with cool Wakandan tech and energetic fight scenes. The art team pulled off an excellent-looking book, and the pacing is stellar. The one odd/down point is Ridley’s insistence in making T’Challa paranoid to the point of being a fascist, especially in his attitude here towards the Avengers, and it seems wildly out of place.