At this point, I’m only reading the current Black Panther solo series by Oscar-winning writer John Ridley because of the nonsensical mess it has become.
The premise of T’Challa’s secrets coming back to haunt him is a good one. Due to the type of man he is, of course, T’Challa would have had sleeper agents scattered across the world (and the universe) to ensure Wakanda remained safe. However, the way Ridley’s been handling the entire thing is not it.
One of the biggest gripes I have with Ridley‘s storytelling is that in order for his plot developments (if you can even call them that) to work, some of the smartest people in the Marvel Comic Book Universe have to be made stupid. Seeing freaking T’Challa and Shuri be outwitted in the manner they did in Black Panther issue 6 had me rolling my eyes.
There’s an entire scene, in Shuri’s secret hideout, where Shuri tells Omolola how she has contingency plans for things people haven’t even invented yet. However, Shuri wasn’t prepared for Akili shutting down communications and had to change her initial plan for aiding her brother? I have to laugh.
The same goes for T’Challa. Regardless of him being in his Black Panther suit or not, how the heck is some random person going to outmaneuver T’Challa? It doesn’t make any sense.
Not only have T’Challa and Shuri’s intelligence been watered down, but the entire thing about T’Challa acting up because he lost his friend Jhai also lacks any emotional weight. We see T’Challa being a mess and feeling a lot of guilt over Jhai’s murder. It is understandable for him to feel such emotions. However, what about the readers?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Jhai never existed before the current solo series, right? As a reader, I have no connection to Jhai. So, Ridley wanting me to feel sympathetic toward T’Challa as he tries to solve his friend’s murder and pushes his allies (whom we have spent years with) away is just a poor writing tactic.
There’s a panel where T’Challa tells Storm, of all people, that Jhai’s the only person he’s ever cared about. Like, what the heck? Who is Jhai? I don’t know her!
The only thing that has a chance at explaining T’Challa’s actions would be some huge reveal that Jhai was T’Challa’s first love and the two men still had feelings for each other. However, I highly doubt Ridley’s going to have T’Challa come out as bisexual.
Speaking of T’Challa’s relationships, after Ororo saved him from an army of trained Wakandan soldiers, Ridley had the two hash out their past after Ororo confronted T’Challa about using Gentle as a sleeper agent to keep an eye on Arakko.
I get that Storm’s disappointed at T’Challa, but frankly, I too would have stationed a sleeper agent on Arakko. Even though T’Challa can trust Storm, the X-Men comic book line has shown that the new mutant planet as a whole can’t be trusted. There are mutant-centric factors at play that Storm doesn’t even know about. So, I support T’Challa wanting to be prepared.
And while I liked Storm confronting T’Challa about the sleeper agent situation and not telling her the truth when she asked, the thing I didn’t like was Ridley bringing up Vita’s horrendous Marauders issue 13 from 2020. Whatever happened in Marauders issue 13 was so out of character for Ororo, that I want Marvel Comics to pretend it doesn’t exist. And Marvel did until Ridley brought it back up again in Black Panther issue 6.
Not only that but T’Challa’s annulment of his marriage to Storm was also mentioned. Like, why? We have been through this so many times. Ridley’s handling of Ororo and T’Challa’s relationship would have kind of made sense if the galactic-level Black Panther solo run by Coates didn’t precede the current story. Sigh!
Anyway, what is done is done. With Storm deciding to stick around for a while longer to help T’Challa and with even more allies appearing, I’m looking forward to seeing what Ridley plans to do next and if the current story will grow messier.
Before I end this review, I have to talk about another moment. To be fair, I would like to give points to Ridley for bringing up Storm’s ability to cauterize wounds with her lightning.
I would also like to give Ridley points for having Storm pinpoint T’Challa’s location by herself. Storm’s Omega-level abilities should allow her to find anyone or anything as long as what she’s tracking is on the same planet she’s on by reading energy patterns and stuff. We have seen her do it in past stories. And I liked Ridley referencing that in the current issue (if that was his thought process behind Ororo suddenly appearing to help T’Challa).
In contrast, Shuri had to tap into the secret tracker she had placed on her brother.
However, I would also like to take points away for making Storm say “Okey-Dokey”. I can’t! The moment was so bad I couldn’t help but let out a laugh!
A simple “Mmhmm” from Ororo would have been enough.
As for the art by Stefano Landini and Matt Milla, I liked the action sequence featuring T’Challa, but other than that, I was quite “Meh!” about the panels that focused more on the character’s facial expressions.
What did you think of Black Panther issue 6?
Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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