Two volumes in and it’s becoming even more clear that the overall quality of this storyline is going to depend on how well writer Ta-Nehisi Coates sticks the landing in the next volume. This second volume does suffer a bit as it’s the middle of the story and nothing is beginning or ending here. Things continue on after the terrorist attack at the Birnin Zana city square that left many people dead and T’Challa’s mother in critical condition. T’Challa starts enlisting outside help on how to deal with the terror problem in his country while Tetu, Zenzi, and Ezekiel Stane continue their efforts to foment rebellion in Wakanda. Meanwhile, T’Challa’s sister Shuri continues her journey through the Djalla, the plane of Wakanda’s collective memory.
While he hasn’t completely turned the tables, the book’s best moments come when we get to see how clever T’Challa can be when taking on the bad guys. It was cool to see him outmaneuver Stane at one point and deduce just what has happened to Shuri after she was placed in suspension. The guest appearance by the members of The Crew also lent the book some much needed superhero energy.
I say that this energy was “much needed” because it’s also clear that Coates is still finding his footing as a comic book writer. He’s best-known for his essay writing and reading through the copious amounts of dialogue and text captions on each page makes you feel like he’s trying to do the same in comic form. It doesn’t really work and the series’ pace has suffered for it. Weirdly, the numerous Wakandan folk tales he creates here feel rushed, and half-finished. Even though this volume has a new artist in Chris Sprouse, his slick and angular style is still great to look at and maintains some artistic consistency with Brian Stelfreeze. I’ve heard that Coates has plans for a second and possibly third year of “Black Panther,” but it seems that I’ll have to wait until vol. 3 comes out before I can see about getting excited for that news.