Space Is The Place
Are you ready for the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda? Strap in!
Marvel’s line-wide comic relaunches are happening so frequently that it’s almost getting comical, with their latest Fresh Start initiative arriving directly on the heels of the much-trumpeted Marvel Legacy one. However, in the case of Black Panther writer Ta-Nehisi Coates’s acclaimed current run, this series relaunch isn’t just a way of hopefully boosting sales – it’s also the kick-off for a radical change that pushes T’Challa in an unexpected direction.
“The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda” is the title for this new saga, and the set-up pitches us straight into a world that could be a parallel universe, an alternate future, a different timeline, or something even stranger.
Here, the technologically advanced kingdom of Wakanda made the leap into space 2000 years ago, and now they control vast sections of the galaxy as a brutal empire. However, there are also rebels fighting against Wakandan rule – including an ex-slave with only shadowy memories of his previous life, who’s taken the name of T’Challa…
Coates has already proven himself a great writer of pulp action, but this shift into Star Wars-esque space opera is both deeply unexpected and surprisingly entertaining. The story quickly switches from a Spartacus-style break-out on an alien prison planet to full-on intergalactic rebellion, while also exploring the series’ usual energetic take on Afrofuturist sci-fi on a much broader scale.
The result is plenty of action and thrills, alongside some seriously impressive visuals from artist Daniel Acuña, who brings the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda to life with a barrage of crazy pulp-SF designs. His style and colours also give the action sequences an impressive level of energy and intensity.
The question of whatever has transformed reality is intriguing, and yet also turns out to be a slight weakness for the series. These
Gives the action scenes impressive energy and intensity
opening four issues are frequently thrilling and never less than entertaining, but what with an amnesiac hero and very few clues as to what’s happening, some aspects of the storytelling are maybe a little too ambiguous. It’s hard not to feel like the mystery box approach is holding Coates back from the kind of texture and philosophical touches he was previously able to add to T’Challa’s adventures.
However, those in the mood for muscular sci-fi action will find little to complain about, and Black Panther looks likely to remain a well-crafted and satisfying example of superhero storytelling for many issues to come. Saxon Bullock
Coates is also currently working with The Wire creator David Simon on a HBO miniseries about Martin Luther King.
He was on the lookout for a nice cardboard box to sit in.