Despite having ended a civil war and breaking the will of those who have risen against him and the kingdom of Wakanda, T’Challa finds himself confronting a difficult truth in Black Panther #12. It is that ending a civil war, doesn’t automatically mean the country is united once more. In the final chapter of A Nation Under Our Feet, T’Challa finds that in winning he has changed his nation permanently.
In the final chapter of this story arc, there may not be a lot of action, but there is plenty of emotional fireworks as the leaders of the various factions meet to negotiate a reconciliation. And all the parties, the Midnight Angels who wanted to reshape Wakanda, T’Challa and Shuri who fought to preserve the nation’s traditions and even the arbiter, Changmire all have to face their failings that brought about so much suffering on a nation that considers itself a world leader.
In less deft hands, this book would have been a snoozefest. However, Ta-Nehisi Coates (Black Panther: World of Wakanda) is such a strong storyteller that the struggles of all these characters pulls the reader through the story with a deeper appreciation that truly strong leaders can face and learn from their mistakes. Not everyone is completely satisfied with the changes coming to Wakanda, but they are willing to rebuild the country along new lines.
Much of the disappointment and self recrimination the characters faces is told through Brian Stelfreeze’s (Domino, Matador) art. The way that the characters often cannot force themselves to look each other in the face as they deal with their own emotions is so telling. It is so easy to show people dealing with their own conflicts in the middle of a big battle, but it is so much more difficult in a superhero book to convey the emotional heft in a book of only quiet moments and negotiations.
I am sorry that this is the last Black Panther book where Stelfreeze will be the main artist for a while. But I am excited to see what the combination of Coates storytelling and Wilfredo Torres’ art will bring starting next month.
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Pencilers: Brian Stelfreeze, Chris Sprouse
Inkers: Brian Stelfreeze, Karl Story, and Scott Hanna
Colors: Laura Martin and Matt Milla