Written by: John Ridley
Art by: Juann Cabal, Stefano Landini
Colors by: Matt Milla
Letters by: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover art by: Alex Ross
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: April 13, 2022
Black Panther #5 cranks the paranoia meter up to 11 as everyone within Wakandan leadership has something to hide, including T’Challa. When the accusation of “traitor” is leveled at Wakanda’s king, how far will T’Challa go to clear his name?
Was It Good?
Black Panther #5 takes the political intrigue of this arc and lands squarely on the “consequences of your actions” section of the story. At the end of the last issue, Omolola’s lies were uncovered, leading T’Challa to conclude she was involved in the assassination of the sleeper agents. Now, the investigation into Omolola’s possible co-conspirators winds up giving everyone in a leadership position reason to be suspected.
Ridley’s story works best when it comes to building out paranoia and creating a plausible reason for each character to have a motivation for participating in a potential coup. Ridley’s story doesn’t work as well when it comes to chasing down the theories and leads about co-conspirators. Why? Because the story goes to great (cool) lengths to show the super-advanced technology Shuri uses to track down the killers, find out the source of their weapons, and uncover the truth about Omolola’s indiscretions. But when it comes time to investigate Omolola’s part in the assassinations or any other of the accused, Shuri’s tech and investigative skills are barely used, leaving the truth of the accusations up to characters sitting around and talking with each other over wild speculations.
In other words, Shuri masterfully tracks down ninja-like killers all across the globe based on a swatch of fabric and nearby security camera footage, but she can’t seem to prove whether or not a government official made a phone call. The juxtaposition of achieving detecting miracles and then suddenly having no way to find out anything about people close to her just doesn’t jive.
Putting the Shuri’s inconsistency aside, the paranoia is what sells the issue and Ridley cranks it up to the max. Everyone has something to gain, and the consequences of T’Challa’spast decision have now come back to haunt him. to Ridley’s credit, he’s painted T’Challa as a complicated character, struggling to walk the line between what’s best for his people and doing what’s right. Two objectives that don’t always align.
The art from Cabal, Landini, and Milla is excellent in this issue. There’s a good blend of action and talking scenes, and both types are visually engaging. The action is taut and exciting. The talking scenes, even the bland ones, have enough visual interest with Wakandan architecture and costumes, to hold your attention.
Black Panther #5 masterfully captures the paranoia inherent in conspiracy thrillers but seemingly forgets to do the detecting legwork. Still, the dramatic tension never lets up, and the visuals hold your attention throughout.