Black Panther: Prelude is less of a throwback to the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby version of the character and has very little connection to what Ta-Nehisi Coates is doing with the title, which took me by surprise, because initially I had confused it for one of the legacy titles. That Black Panther will be out next month. This book is a tie-in to the MCU version of the character and clearly timed to come out at the same time as the newest trailer for the Black Panther movie.
The tie-in is made explicit as the opening splash is similar to the scene in the trailer of the airship flying back to the Wakandan capital.
But with all of that out of the way, what about this book?
Will Corona Pilgrim and Annapaola Martello have put together a very tight story of the time when T’Challa first takes on the role of Black Panther. It is a time when his father, T’Chaka, is still alive and gives T’Challa guidence. The foremost of which is to not be seen by outsiders. A rule that he has already broken when he ends a small conflict near the Wakandan border and is seen by U.N. Peacekeepers.
His father has another mission for him. He must rescue two Wakandan citizens who were incidently captured in a terrorist hostage situation around the world in Paraguay. He is uaware that one of the terrorists is armed with vibranium bullets.
There is a lot to like about this version of Black Panther. He is strategic and clever, but this is a younger version. He is more brash and cocksure than the current king version. There is a lot to like and you can clearly see where Pilgrim pulls much of his characterization from. He is someone that can grow into the version readers are familiar with, but also someone who moviegoers might encounter on the screen.
Martello does an excellent job generally throughout the issue and does an excellent job with the faces of most of the charaters. However, you can tell she seems to be struggling in zeroing in on T’Challa’s face. What we get is a mix of the traditional comic look with an attempt to smear in Chadwick Boseman’s face. It would have been more successful had she just picked a single face and stuck with it.
This is a fun book that launches a new adventure for the character. If you are familiar with Black Panther, you get to see a story featuring the younger version and you can see where the brashness of youth will wear into the responsibilities of being a king. If you are new to the character and want to get a jump on it before the movie comes out, well this book is tailored for you. Fortunately it is well tailored and launches what appears to be a fun adventure story.
Writer: Will Corona Pilgrim
Artist: Annapaola Martello
Colorist: Jordan Boyd
Letterer: Travis Lanham