Week 4 – Black Panther

I really enjoyed this comic. I love the idea of a superhero who is also a king, a leader of a nation, a hero to its people. In this comic, we get to see the internal struggle this character faces – is he Black Panther, member of the Avengers? Or is he T’Challa, leader of his nation? And he knows he can’t be both. I found anything to do with Black Panther and his inner struggle very compelling because I found his character to be so interesting. Most of the subplots, for the most part, didn’t work for me, and I felt like there were too many at a time. If it just slowed down to focus more on T’Challa, I think it would’ve been a lot better.

I think one of the best and one of the strongest aspects of this comic was the world building. This was the first comic that we read in class that really nailed that difficult feat of curating a new, rich, and vast world for its characters, since All-Star Superman jumped from location to location quickly and abruptly, and Ms. Marvel took place in a real city. I loved how carefully designed everything about Wakanda was – from the character design, to the visual style of the comic, and even to the rich language and vocabulary of the people from Wakanda. Reading this comic, you get so immersed in its world, that you almost sort of forget that Wakanda isn’t a real African nation (or at least I did). You can even see the beautiful production design and world creating just from the Black Panther trailer. Africa is usually portrayed in the media as a land of jungles and wild animals and sacred tribes and immense poverty. This is undoubtedly the most amazing thing about the fictional nation; Wakanda shines as a nation built on technology and magic, without a trace of poverty or disease. This stark contrast between stereotypical Africa and the technologically and scientifically advanced nation of Wakanda and its people was something I noticed and loved. A term I recently discovered was Afrofuturism – art that retells the experiences and realities of black people through a sci-fi lens. Black Panther and Wakanda are an example of this sub-genre of fiction in which Africans (and African Americans) display expertise and understanding of technological and scientific advancement. People of colour are often excluded from sci-fi and fantasy worlds, and when they are included, it’s usually token roles. But not in Black Panther, which I loved.

All in all, I enjoyed this comic. I feel like I may have even enjoyed even more than the previous two comics just because I loved the world of Wakanda so much, and it was a place we’ve really never gotten to see before. We’ve literally only seen a live-action Black Panther in one film, and so his character just felt so new and refreshing and unique, especially when compared to a character like Superman where we’ve seen so many different iterations of his character and story over the last 40 years. With better pacing and fewer sub-plots, I feel like the comic could’ve been elevated into something even better.

6 thoughts on “Week 4 – Black Panther

  1. Hey Melina! I too enjoyed observing T’Challa’s internal conflict and character growth as throughout the story he strives to find a balance in his role as both hero and king to his nation. I also enjoyed Coates and Stelfreeze’s Black Panther as they portrayed Africa’s beautiful culture through the characters traditional clothing and the wealth and progressiveness of the nation through the display of architecture and high level technology which was quite refreshing from the many writers who portray Africa to be a place of poverty.

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  2. Great post Melina! I think you are spot on with the portrayal of the landscape and environment that is shown in this comic. I found myself admiring the art work and the beauty shown in the landscape of Wakanda. I cant remember the last time I read a comic or saw movie with such a pretty place in which the story is set. It was definitely a refreshing change from All-star superman’s and Ms. Marvel’s concrete jungle.

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  3. I agree Melina. I find the world of Black Panther and Wakanda to be a great rebuttal to the usual portrayal of Africa in all forms of media. I am from South Africa and spent 16 years of my life growing up in Africa (Tunisia, Ivory Coast & South Africa). From my personal experience, Africa is a lot more developed than it is often portrayed. I believe part of this stigma is because of cultural traditions that have grown from tribal roots. The portayal of Wakanda in this comic is a great antithesis to this idea. Wakanda is an African country that is as developed, if not more, than America in this world. But there is a parallel to the US here as well. Wakanda is portrayed as being seperated from its roots and I think it is very important for any society to hold onto that and build upon it. The story around Shuri is very much geared around reconnecting with the ancetral roots of Wakanda and this is a great way of showing that traditional culture and technology are not mutually exclusive. This is a great commentary on the present state of the African continent because it is an issue that African countries are presently struggling with.

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  4. Hey, great post!!! I agree with you that a lot of the subplots didn’t really work and also agree that it would have made for a better comic if Coates had spent more time on character development of T’Challa. I found myself just getting bored with this comic when it spun off to cover the other plots, just wanting to see T’Challa again and find out what he is doing.

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  5. Hey Melina,

    I definitely agree with your comment on the world building done in Wakanda. It was extremely well thought out and immersed the reader. I think this is a testament to Brian Stelfreeze’s quality of work and the amount of detail he can fit onto the page!

    Cheers,

    Taher

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  6. Hey Malina,
    I definitely agree that all the plots at first really interrupted getting to know *one* of the main characters better. I think if they had been able to focus on T’Challa a little more before plunging into convoluted plots it would have paced the comic a little better. But I definitely think Coates definitely intended that – to show that T’Challa isn’t the *only* main character – that the world is diverse and there are many people affecting it.

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