Black Panther #14
Issue 14 of Coates' Black Panther has me conflicted, pretty much like his entire run on the series. I felt like I needed to give Coates time before I made a final judgement on his take on Black Panther because he had to make the transition from writing novels and articles to writing comics. Some of the slow pace and dialogue can be attributed to Coates finding his legs and adjusting. However, after 14 issues it's clear Coates is still a novelist at heart. His Black Panther run will undoubtedly read better as a trade, his single issues leave something to be desired, and #14 is no different.
Here's why I’m conflicted, I never feel like I’m getting enough from the issue but I always get just enough to keep me intrigued.
Here’s the stuff I liked:
1) There is a hint of something bigger and major playing out in the background with questions about the Panther God and touching back to the incursions from Hickman’s, Time Runs Out and Secret Wars.
2) T’Challa’s conversation with the previous Black Panthers.
3) The reintroduction of Queen Divine Justice, a character from Christopher Priest’s amazing Black Panther run.
Here’s the stuff I didn’t like:
1) The final conversation with Zawavari, a character from Reggie Hudlin’s average run on Panther, just seemed to be filler to take up space.
2) A continued lack of action overall.
3) Show us why T'Challa is cool dammit. Show us more personality or just more badass fighting.
This is not a bad issue, it is solid by comparison to some of Coates early books, but it still feels like there’s just not enough happening. Coates works hard on world building and giving the reader a good sense of Wakanda and its people. The writer introduces secondary characters in an attempt to give them screen time and personality in an attempt to make you connect, care, or at least understand as a good author is supposed to do. Yet, I’ve found myself unattached and disinterested in the vast majority of the characters he has used or introduced. The world building of Wakanda throughout the run either does not go deep enough or go deeper than it feels like it should in places.
During his time writing Black Panther, Christopher Priest was criticized for having T’Challa be a secondary character in his own book. This was done intentionally to not allow the reader into T’Challa’s mind directly, thereby increasing the element of surprise. No one knew what he would do, not even the reader. In these issues, we get a glimpse into T’Challa’s mind, but none of the surprise and he still feels, at times, like a secondary character.
That being said, overall Coates BP run has been solid. I would definitely rank it above Hudlin’s run, and even above the David Liss, Man Without Fear series. I enjoy it overall, but as I mentioned above it’s a slow burn and individual issues seem to leave you slightly dissatisfied. If you can get past that, you get an enjoyable series that is most likely best digested in trade form.