The darkest chapter of the Black Panther mythos continues as Wakanda crumbles from within.
Enter: The Midnight Angels! Two mysterious women leading the citizen revolt against the current regime of Wakanda, challenging not only T’Challa’s politics but also his resolve. But will their rage provide more for the people than the royal family has thus far?
Art– How much do I love the art of Brian Stelfreeze? Oh let me count the ways! I love his stylized depiction of how T’challa’s mask forms over his head. Each piece of T’challa’s tech also has these jack Kirby inspired lines that scream sexyness. Another stand out for me is the illustration of when T’challa is affected by the powers of Zenzi. It is a gorgeous scene of Greens and blues. The work of Laura Martin must be singled out as adding depth and power to this scene. The color artist must also be commended with depicting the characters as not your atypical comic book “blacks” where everyone is the same hue and tone. The action scenes also have a decent ebb and flow to it and man if those alternate covers are not to die for!
Story–T’challa has a meeting about the Nigandan rebels with his council. The Midnight Angels continue their vigilantism. T’challa finds and defeats some of the rebels but finds his would be rescue’s ungrateful. In the plane of Wakandan memory Shuri rouses.
Philosophy-The conversation between Tetu and his teacher was fascinating from a number of standpoints. The teacher posits that questions and their asking are of utmost importance while the student has found an answer, or he thinks he has found an answer. The answer however has found him in conflict with the rulers of his state. How similar is this to many a University student introduced to abstract thought and new ideas and in trying to find the answers end up being radically different than they were originally.
As I read those words I was brought back to a meeting my class had with Dr. Frank Tuitt thanks by one Dr. Saran Stewart. I had truly deeply been changed by reading Tuitt’s Inclusive pedagogy. In fact I still use many of its tenets combined with those of bell hook’s Critical pedagogy to engage my students. The meeting however found me like Tetu rather disenfranchised by the lack of revolution in the man himself. Like Tetu I found him not what I expected and more of a caught up in thought and abstraction than actually changing the world kind of man.
This exchange points out the power of the question, the essence of any form of Epistemology, Metaphysics, ethics or Aesthetics. But as much fun as it to propose these thought provoking questions the younger more vibrant among us are not content with a change in consciousness so much as a change in the world around them. In this case it’s a rebellion against the crown for their inability to protect citizens. Among the young there is more militancy and it can be argued that is often why they are so prominent in organizations like Isis.
Peace, equality or change must be preceded by a revolution whether through military force or a change in thought. In my own Jamaica the Maroons fought a long bloody war to achieve their independence. In Africa Nelson Mandella originally fought violently against apartheid. It’s a part of human history to have conflict over ideologies and different solution to perceive problems brought on by questions.
I have often wondered are teacher proud of students who change the world in ways they don’t approve of? It is a truly thought provoking piece and I would kill to analyze it in a class of college students.
Villain– Niganda and Zenzi are your typical villains serving as an offshoot of the still dead Erik Killmonger.
The Midnight Angels are a more interesting set because they are unsanctioned vigilante’s operating illegally in Wakanda. They are saving Wakandans from all kinds of crimes that are in all honesty beyond the abilities of a lone warrior king to deal with. Why are neither the Dora Milaje or the Hatut Zeraze dealing with these crimes? It points out an issue that some of us had years ago during Reginald Hudlin’s run of Black Panther…back when Comicvine was the spot, does Wakanda have crime? There are about six million Wakandans with many marsh tribes, urban and rural areas etc. There must be crime! Who deals with it? A single King?
Love- We have the two midnight angels in love, does it get better than that?
Power- “Power lies not in what a king does, but in what his subjects believe he might do” I could not help but laugh out loud when reading that statement because it echoed the thoughts of Game of Thrones Author George Martin. Power as a concept is a fabrication of the mind. It is just like belief; it is as powerful as you think it is. Most people don’t realize it and it’s the same thing happening on Game of Thrones right now. Ta Nehesi uses it as the backdrop to T’challa’s fight with the Nigandan rebels. T’challa’s mystique allot like Batman lies in the mystery of the man and what he can or can do. That is where his “power” comes from, how he is perceived.
Continuity– As a huge fanboy of continuity I love how Ta Nehesi Coates has acknowledged T’shan’ death at the hands of Dr. Doom during the events of Doomwar. This has been straight up ignored by everyone who tackled the character since. I loved and was intrigued by T’shan the Swift and it was good to have him at least mentioned with dignity.
Humanity- This book continues the trend started by Hudlin in Humanizing the African King and I dig it!
Focus– Hudlin’s opening issue found T’challa less central as the writer set things up and around the country. Ta Nehesi is doing the same thing. The problem is some may find T’challa’s presence more like a guest star than the titular character.
There is so much going on from thought provoking Philosophy, conversation starting debates and heart wrenching moments that I can’t give Black Panther anything less than a 4/5 stars. If you read one comic book this month it MUST be Black Panther!