One of the best things about team books can be seeing some of your favorite characters come together in one place. Economically it just makes sense. Sometimes though a team book can go the other way. Instead of compiling a list of fan favorites it takes some oddball and underutilized characters to create something new and exciting. That is no doubt a risk but when it pays off it can pay off big with books like Suicide Squad or Guardians of the Galaxy. Black Panther Agents of Wakanda goes the latter as Black Panther leads a ragtag group of characters to do the jobs The Avengers cannot.
Spinning out of the pages of Jason Aaron’s current run on Avengers Black Panther has put together a team of characters to fill the void left by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s absence. The team is not solely made up of C list characters as original Avengers member Wasp and of course, Black Panther himself makes up a portion of the team. Other members include Colonel John Jameson, Okoye, and easily the biggest standout character of this issue Fat Cobra. Here they investigate a strange disturbance occurring in a town in Oklahoma and quickly find out they may already be over their heads.
Written by Jim Zub who has experience writing team books with his recent work on Champions that took that team into some intriguing directions. From the start, you can see some of the seeds he is already beginning to sow as this team comes together. Although some of these characters are not well known they are filling very familiar roles. Colonel John Jameson is the hothead of the group who takes dangerous chances that someone who follows more traditional rules like The Wasp takes issue with. Then you have someone like Fat Cobra who is the colorful comic relief that brings some much-needed personality to the team. Thankfully his comedic moments are not fueled by quips or snarky remarks, instead, there is a general cheerfulness that makes him rather likable. However, when the moment calls for it you see what he is such a respected warrior.
On the other hand, it is that familiarity where the book falters. Instead of leaning into the oddity of these characters it is forcing them into roles and a general plot that is minimizing what makes them unique. Someone like Okoye is relegated to the unsure of herself ward of Black Panther, rather than having a strong and demanding personality. This makes it feel like a sidequest of the main story rather than something unique to its own creation.
Part of that is the byproduct of being the first issue and wanting to set the stage that will be further developed as the narrative progresses, and to this issues credit it does leave off on a cliffhanger that does automatically make things a lot more interesting. Writer Jim Zub has also proven in the past can weave a quality team dynamic when given time so there is reason to be optimistic.
Artist Lan Medina’s art is indicative of the book as it gets the job done even if not in the most spectacular way. There were a few inconsistencies during conversations as characters would shift their location from panel to panel. One major highlight was a splash page of Okoye doing a roll call of where all the assorted characters were at that given moment. In a way that page represents the type of promise this series and concept holds. Hopefully, future issues will lean into that strangeness rather than straight forward team book with different clothing.
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Lan Medina
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino