This week’s Marvel Rundown focuses on the final chapter of one of the publisher’s longest current runs. Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has been guiding the adventures of Black Panther and the nation of Wakanda since 2016, and his run with artists Daniel Acuña and Brian Stelfreeze is coming to an end. Does the final issue of Coates’s Black Panther run act as a satisfying conclusion to his tenure on the title?
We’ve got a review of Black Panther #25, along with a Rapid Rundown of other new Marvel Comics titles, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!
Black Panther #25
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artists: Daniel Acuña and Brian Stelfreeze
Color Artists: Daniel Acuña and Laura Martin
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuña
Black Panther #25 is the closing chapter of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ polarizing run on this series (more on the polarizing later). This issue gives readers a battle royale, as the Black Panther and his Wakandan forces defended against the invading horde of a newly-resurrected Killmonger, now empowered by a Symbiote, and his off-world allies.
Artist Daniel Acuña fills the page with crisp action and vibrant power, and if you haven’t been reading these last few issues, you’ve missed out, as they have been a love letter to all the current Black characters in the Marvel Universe, as every Black Hero answers the call to defend Wakanda, Endgame-style. As a special end cap, joining Coates and Acuña on this final chapter is artist Brian Stelfreeze, who started this journey with Coates in 2016. This run ends with the cementing of Wakanda as an interstellar power, the revitalization of the Panther God, Bast, and the evolution of the man with many titles, T’Challa.
But you can’t just look at this issue without looking at Coates’s entire run. Back in 2016 when I heard Coates and Stellfreeze were taking over Black Panther, I was super excited, these cats were/are at the top of their respective games. That being said, it was also a concern as not every non-comics author can make the transition to comics. Luckily, what could have been a promotional stunt showed itself to be something very substantial and meaningful.
At the time, when other readers I know talked about the book, there were a lot of mixed feelings, the biggest complaint from people being that the book was slow and nothing was happening. An understandable complaint if you look at it as a typical superhero book, but when you step back and look at what was truly taking shape, you’ll see that Coates was doing something different as the Panther was sometimes a secondary character to that of the nation-building of Wakanda.
This run was all about the history of self, relationships with Ancestors, finding the right perspective and looking at the Big Picture, seeing the hurt of Wakanda’s enemies, both intentional and unintentional, understanding the sacrifices that characters made to ensure that the ideal of Wakanda continued and expanded. This is one of those pieces of art that people will come back to and find more meaning on that second, third, and fourth read. The legacy of Coates will be a deeper meaning to Wakanda Forever!
Final Verdict: BUY.
- Beta Ray Bill #3
- Bill and his allies are delving deeper into the bowels of Muspelheim and, man. This book is such a good time. Aside from the obvious that is Daniel Warren Johnson’s incredibly energetic and expressive artwork, the story is so broadly funny in a way that I didn’t expect, not that I didn’t think Johnson was capable of it. Bill’s story is all about transformation so it’s only appropriate that his closest ally Skuttlebutt, has a transformation of her own thanks to the magic of Muspelheim. Bill’s reckoning with this transformation is the highlight of the issue for me, and Johnson nails their new dynamic. —HW
- Heroes Reborn #4
- The fact that this series has diverged from the usual Marvel event format is kind of breaking my brain a little, but this issue sort of answers the question as to how this whole reality has been set up in the first place, and it’s probably what you expected if you’ve been reading the main Avengers series. Yet, this issue is still fairly standalone, almost entirely focused on a fight to the death between Doctor Spectrum and the bounty hunter Rocket Raccoon. Come for the event, stay for the incredible and mind-bending James Stokoe artwork. There are some pretty wild images to behold in this comic book and that alone deserves your time and money. —HW
- Heroes Reborn: Young Squadron #1
- From Karl Kerschl‘s colorful cover to a reunion of Jim Zub and Stephen Cummings on a Champions-adjacent book, I was pretty on-board for this one-shot from its initial announcement. This book has a lot of heavy-lifting to do, though, providing origin stories for three alternate versions of characters who haven’t appeared elsewhere in Heroes Reborn while also telling a complete story for the team. Zub and Cummings carry it out pretty well, and the resulting story is a breezy adventure tale that blends what readers already know about Miles, Kamala, and Sam with the trappings of this Avengers-less world to great effect. Maybe not essential to the overall HR story, but a lot of fun nonetheless. —JG
- X-Men #20
- I’ve been getting a little (okay, more than a little) bored with the X-line over the past few months, and in particular with the Jonathan Hickman-written flagship X-title. It hasn’t felt like there’s been any forward momentum on the book, and the excitement coming out of House of X and Powers of X has stretched about as far as it can go. Just as I’m about to jump ship, though, this week’s X-Men #20 comes in to finally pick up one of the more fascinating plot threads that’s been dangling since HoX/PoX. Hickman and artists Francesco Mobili and Sunny Gho to tell a Mystique-centric story that’s exciting and heartbreaking, and really drives home what a-holes Xavier and Magneto are. More of this, please. —JG
Next week, the Hellfire Gala begins!