In fairness, I should note that I have been neutral on the issue of Black Panther. I never read much Avengers. I was more interested when Storm married him, though I did not like the retcon, and I understand his importance and the importance of his marriage. I hope that the Black Panther movie earns the most of any Marvel movie ever, and am perfectly content with it earning more than Wonder Woman.
I mean, have you looked at that cast?
The reason I pointed out the above is that I cannot evaluate how the first three collected volumes of Coates run compare to other Panther story lines or the larger Marvel Mythos of the character.
Coates’ first arc seems to occur at a time of change in Wakanda, the Panther’s home and his kingdom. His sister is not alive and not dead, his marriage is annulled, and T’Challa is feeling a bit resentful and angry. The kingdom itself is feeling the same, and some members of the Dora Milaje eventually take matters into their own hands. This was expected for Coates hinted at it during a talk shortly after signing with Marvel.
Some of the conflict that Wakanda faces are about the question of rule, whether a monarchy can actually, truly serve the people in the way the people want to be served. If Coates doesn’t give the question the full space and examination that it deserves, then it is more the fault of format and cooperate control than anything. (Think of the scene in the last Jedi where the stolen ship reveals that its true owner sold arms to both the First Order and Resistance. Del Toro’s character has a point, but there is no time to really look at it).
In truth, though, it isn’t T’Challa’s journey that is the most fascinating, but his sister’s, Shuri’s, who is in something of a coma. In her state, she goes on a true spiritual journey, and learns to be, among other things, a griot. It is with Shuri that Coates really, truly explores the idea of history, rule, and duty. In many ways, the first three volumes are more about women than about T’Challa himself.
Which is cool.
Part of what Coates also looks at is Wakanda’s place in the larger world, which is somewhat interesting. Guests stars are kept to a minimum, basically being the Crew – including Storm, who, to be frank, is dealt with way too easily in a fight, but her words are Storm.
It is an interesting story because here words are just as important, if not more so, than actions. It is reader’s comic arc.