Black Panther: Long Live the King #1
By Nnedi Okorafor, André Lima Araújo, Chris O’Halloran, Jimmy Betancourt
The most prominent aspect of Black Panther: Long Live the King #1 is its refreshing art. T’challa is rendered with a warm, welcoming face that plays into his methods of ruling Wakanda. Araújo, on art, works in tandem with this portrayal by Okorafor, who writes an equally caring Black Panther. This premiere issue focuses heavily on the character’s role as a ruler rather than as a superhero, which is fitting given the series’ title. The story takes its time when it has to, showing quiet, eerie moments, as well as faster, exciting sequences, but unfortunately seems to be falling into a common storytelling trope. One character very clearly has the answer to a seemingly simple situation, but the other characters fail to believe this characters’ far-fetched claim.
In spite of this, the issue is appealing to multiple audiences. Its marketed as 9+, but the level of art and even storytelling would mislead readers. The creators should be applauded for their ability to create a story that is able to bridge generations, especially given the importance of minority characters such as T’challa. This story could be consumed not only as a standard Black Panther comic, but also as a shared experience between a parent and child, or older and younger sibling. The team behind Black Panther: Long Live the King succeeds in this unique style.
Okorafor shows patience in the first sequence. She lets artists Araújo and O’Halloran take the lead as the menace of this storyline is introduced. The first five pages are told almost exclusively through T’challa’s facial expressions and physical reactions to a strange force. It’s clear as well, that Okorafor understands T’challa in multiple facets, from the first panel in which he’s shown reading, to his reactionary mode that enables him to put his people first above all else. The T’challa present here is true to form.
Araújo works toward this version as well. The concern and attention to detail is constantly evident on T’challa’s face. He’s also drawn with careful attention to his physical ability. When the situation demands action, Black Panther is drawn with a liveliness that shows his constant willingness to fight for those he cares about.
Black Panther: Long Live the King #1 honors its title by showing the best parts of T’challa as the ruler of Wakanda. The creators of this series show readers of a wide age range what it means to be a leader and to work towards the betterment of all. Okorafor shows off her wide range of storytelling ability in slow build ups and more tense action sequences while Araújo and O’Halloran render emotional facial expressions, human forms, and interesting settings. This new Black Panther series, despite a potential fall into cliche, is a story worthy of the character’s fans.