Black Panther #18
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art by Chris Sprouse
Inks by Karl Story
Colors by Marcio Menyz
Letters by Joe Sabino
The Rundown: T’Challa has returned to Wakanda, but the empire created in his name haunts him.
Black Panther has returned and the empire of Wakanda has been freed. With Storm by his side, T’Challa tells her of the circumstances that blinded him to the ambition of N’Jadaka and how the empire of Wakanda was built on the enslavement and blood of others. Oblivious of the universe around him, Black Panther found himself in the very slave pens he didn’t see when he was being praised by the people.
Knowing the things he missed and seeing the suffering of the people his empire enslaved, T’Challa confides in Storm that he is ready to take the next step. One that will change the intergalactic empire of Wakanda forever.
The Story: After all of the action and adventure of this arc, Coates does something unexpected and equally powerful by having T’Challa explain to Storm the blind spot in his understanding. It’s a powerful moment of recognition to have this character realize and recognize how his privilege has blinded him to the bloodshed that built not only the empire he opposes, but the country that he rules. Coates demystifies the notion of Wakanda as a utopia just because of it successfully repelling colonization and slavery. He shows that any powerful nation, no matter the ideals and philosophy, is subject to the darkest aspects of humanity including dominance and subjugation for the purpose of empire.
This is probably the most politically charged issue in this arc and it is definitely worth reading for both the brilliance of its storytelling and the insight it reveals.
The Art: Chris Sprouse’s art is beautiful. The bulk of this issue is conversational with T’Challa talking to Ororo. Sprouse does an amazing job making these moments look amazing. The action scenes are incredibly well done and everything has an epic scale to it.