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Black Panther #18
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Chris Sprouse
Inker: Karl Story
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Maturity Rating: Teen+
Release Date: November 27th, 2019
The Black Panther is at a crossroads in his life.
The End of an Empire in Black Panther #18
The story of Wakanda’s space-sprawling empire rolls on in Black Panther #18. The latest issue of Black Panther takes place in Book 3; however, it is a story more reflective in tone. Furthermore, the writing duo emphasizes the core relationship of this story, which is, of course, T’Challa and Storm. The Black Panther is at a crossroads here as not just a king, but a hero as well. T’Challa reveals his time in deep space to his love and consequently, comes to a resolution on his path forward.
Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ space epic has come back to Wakanda Prime to roost. The endgame we get adds layers to the issue that really push it beyond a simple recap. Storm’s interactions with T’Challa are a high point for this series, a fact which is cemented by what she’s brought to the series since T’Challa’s return to earth. T’Challa’s musings on Wakanda’s takeover of space give the entire story interesting themes to play with; however, they never detract from the emotions of the conversation at hand. Storm is used well here, as always, while also not feeling like a backdrop in T’Challa’s scenes. T’Challa is poised, once again, at a crossroads throughout this issue, one that he is helped and guided towards through Storm’s perspective on what he’s seen. Storm’s perspective on slavery and how T’Challa plans to confront the empire are amazing tools used here by Coates.
Chris Sprouse delivered a master class performance in this issue. Some of the panels with just close-ups and eye reaction shots are pitch-perfect in placement as well as skill. Karl Story boosts each piece of art with his stellar inks, as a result, even some of the simple backdrop shots of the country are filled with emotion. Sprouse draws both T’Challa and Storm with the emotion they deserve in these scenes and this expertise carries Coates’ story to another level.
Coates and Sprouse turn what should be a ho-hum issue into an absolute page-turner. As always and forever, Coates gives us emotion better than any writer doing comics these days, something he flexes on this title with style. Sprouse and inker Karl Story give a simple conversation and flashback pieces an extra push, one that carries T’Challa and Storm’s interactions to a different and much-needed depth. Coates is in rare form here, never forcing the issue. Coates carries us through the flashback with zero effort, and he allows the artist to lift from there. Black Panther #18 is another stellar installment that lays the groundwork for a major battle to come. One can’t help but wonder if Book 3 will be the finale, or if Coates is going to spin his wheel further.
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