Just in time for the release of Black Panther in theaters worldwide, Marvel has brought back three of T’Challa’s key writers and two familiar characters on the comics front. Black Panther is currently breaking box office records left and right in theaters. The latest numbers have Black Panther beating The Avengers for Tuesday earnings and it could be well on its way to topping the 2012 film overall. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to know if that’s the case, but Marvel has wisely been preempting the film’s success with a number of new comic book projects.
Alongside Ta-Nahesi Coates’ main Black Panther title, 2018 has seen two new books focused on Wakanda. There’s Black Panther: The Sound and The Fury which tackles the Wakandan king’s rivalry with Klaw. Meanwhile, Rise of the Black Panther explores T’Challa’s secret origin and his relationship with his family, friends, and foes over the years. And if that all wasn’t enough, this year’s Black Panther Annual brings together three of the biggest names in the history of the character to tackle some exciting new stories with ties to their past work.
Black Panther Annual #1 consists of three stories, set in the present, an alternate past, and an alternate future, respectively. Tackling the first is the person considered one of T’Challa’s greatest writers: Christopher Priest. With art by Mike Perkins and Andy Troy, Priest drops back in on two of the characters he created in the late ’90s: Nakia and Everett Ross. When a mission connected to Wakanda goes awry, the CIA pull Ross back into the world of Wakanda. And after the Hatut Zeraze, Wakanda’s War Dogs, nearly kill Ross, the villainous Malice (aka Nakia) steps in to help.
Though Nakia is a hero in the MCU, the comics saw her become a villain and some expected to see this twist play out on the big screen. Of course, we could see her take on the mantle of Malice in the sequel. Either way, the character hasn’t been seen in years in the comics, with her last big arc during Priest’s run in 2001.
Similarly, Ross hasn’t had much to do with Wakanda—as he continually reaffirms in the new story. While we last saw him working in the trial of Maria Hill, his last contact with Black Panther came during T’Challa’s marriage to Storm in 2006. Priest’s new story brings him back as the same bumbling, slightly-annoying CIA agent who served as a go-between for Wakanda and the U.S.A. Both Malice and Ross will be strikingly different for fans of the MCU not familiar with the comics. But Everett Ross will return to the MCU and Nakia presumably will too. When they do, we could continue to see shades of their comic counterparts brought to life.
Along with the story by Priest, Don McGregor and Daniel Acuña tell the take of an alternate past, fitting as McGregor is largely responsible for much of the foundation of Black Panther and the creative behind characters like Erik Killmonger. The final story, meanwhile, comes from Reginald Hudlin and his former collaborator Ken Lashley, the duo that took over the reigns of Black Panther following Priest’s tenure. Whether you’re an old fan of T’Challa or a new convert thanks to Black Panther, the three new stories are must-reads.
Black Panther Annual #1 is available now from Marvel and local comic book stores.
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