Thanks to Ezekiel Stane, The Black Panther is believed to be the worst kind of despot, ready to turn on his own people with cruelty and violence. This bodes ill for the King of Wakanda… Your Major Spoilers review of Black Panther #6 awaits!
Previously in Black Panther: “After a suicide bomber severely injured his mother, T’Challa declared war on Tetu’s rebels. With the help of Manifold and the Hatut Zeraze, he orchestrated raids on their hideouts, managing to capture several terrorists outfitted with repulsor bomb biotechnology. At Akili’s behest, a counter-revolution council was convened and presented T’Challa with the cruelest measure for dealing with a coup. Tetu and Ezekiel Stane leaked the particulars of this meeting to the world. Meanwhile, Shuri’s spirit travels the plane of Wakandan memory known as the Djalia. She is led by a griot inhabiting the visage of Ramonda…”
A COMPLEX AND POWERFUL TALE
We open with the Black Panther at his nadir: His own people are proposing an overthrow of the royal family of Wakanda and the implementation of democracy, while multiple foes swarm in to take advantage of the chaos. It’s actually hard to see who is on whose side in this issue, and even T’Challa’s allies (like Tony Stark, who makes a somewhat contentious appearance to advise on the Stane problem) aren’t playing nice. T’Challa actually muses in this issue of the two minds at war within his person; the scientist and the ruler, but it’s even more complicated to see him trying to be a hero and also rule his country. His personal guard is defeated by the Dora Milaje (thanks to Tetu) but he is able to use a bit of repurposed nanotechnology, courtesy of Doctor Doom to gather the evidence he needs about Ezekiel Stane’s activities behind the coup. Worse still, Stane is working with the Fenris Twins, the children of Baron Strucker.
It’s a good thing the Black Panther has allies of his own, as the last page reveals Luke Cage, Misty Knight, Storm and Manifold have assembled in Wakanda to cover his back as a new incarnation of The Crew.
A HERO OF TWO MINDS
I really enjoy how sociopolitically complex this Black Panther arc has been, with even T’Challa realizing that perhaps the monarchy is outdated. Of course, his particular monarchy is literally, factually and textually empowered by the ancient Panther God, so it’s a bit more complicated even than that. With so many factions and sides in play, it would be easy to lose one thread or another, but Coates keeps everything clear, even with the metaphysical journey that Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, is taking through the collective memory of the Wakandas. The final page reveal is truly wonderful (though I sort of wish that Monica Rambeau and Jericho Drumm were there, given their own previous interactions with The Black Panther), making me wonder where things are going from here. Best of all, this arc eschews the seemingly hard-and-fast Marvel rule of “6 issues to an arc for the trade paperback”, allowing the story to take up more issues in order to fully unfold everything that the creative team has in store.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A TRULY KILLER ENDING
Chris Sprouse and Karl Story provide incredible visuals this issue, as always, giving each character their own body language and presence on the page, as well as providing incredible range of expression and a really great take on the Black Panther’s deceptively difficult uniform. (Sometimes, simple is the hardest of all.) Black Panther #6 continues the streak of excellence with important plot-reveals, great character work on the main character, and a last-page “HELL, YEAH!” moment that might be worth the price of admission on its own, earning a very impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall. I don’t know how long this arc will be, but I can’t help but wonder what T’Challa and Wakanda will be like when it’s all over…