Rise of the Black Panther #1 tells the story of T’Challa’s parents by weaving together years of Marvel history and teasing Wakanda’s future in the cosmos. Alongside Ta-Nahesi Coates’ ongoing run of Black Panther, 2018 is bringing with it two new miniseries telling stories about Wakanda’s protector. Coates’ work over the past few years has greatly expanded the scope of the Black Panther and Wakanda in Marvel Comics, and it’s clear it will have a big impact on next month’s highly-anticipated Black Panther film. As such, Coates has become something of an overseer for all future Black Panther titles, including this week’s Rise of the Black Panther.
With Coates serving as a consultant, Rise of the Black Panther is written by Evan Narcisse with art from Paul Renaud and Stēphane Paitreau. The miniseries will dive into the early days of T’Challa, serving as a sort of ‘Year One’ story for the hero. For issue #1, Narcisse focuses on the time before T’Challa’s birth by detailing events from the life of his grandfather, father, mother, and step-mother. Through these vignettes, we see reinterpretations of previous Black Panther stories, including a retelling of Black Panther Azzuri meeting Captain America from Black Panther/Captain America: Flags of Our Fathers. Moreover, we learn the secret history of T’Challa’s parents.
Rise of the Black Panther #1 is mostly told through the journals of N’Yami, the chief scientist of Wakanda and T’Challa’s birth mother. After retelling the fateful moment when Captain America learned of Wakanda and gained the vibranium for his shield, we see the courtship of T’Chaka and N’Yami as the scientist is brought into the royal fold. Eventually, she births T’Challa but dies shortly after due to an auto-immune disease. The story eventually ends up at the point where Ulysses Klaue first invaded Wakanda and slayed T’Chaka (told now by Ramonda’s journals), kicking off much of T’Challa’s history as we know it.
This final moment serves as the first key event in T’Challa’s life and sets up his future as the king of Wakanda. It also features T’Challa personally taking Klaue’s arm (after it’s damaged with a spear by his uncle Zuri). Though Black Panther won’t feature this exact set of events, as T’Chaka is already dead and Ultron took Klaue’s arm, we’ll likely see teases of many of these events given the shared set of characters.
Rise of the Black Panther #1 also brings in all sorts of heroes and villains from Black Panther’s history, including a cameo by Howard Stark (who T’Chaka reaches out to in an attempt to save his wife). Then there’s the invasion of Wakanda by Hydra forces under Baron von Strucker’s rule, which is facilitated by a coup amongst T’Chaka’s people. Threads of Wakanda’s civil divisions begin in this story, which will later be key to Coates’ Black Panther. We also see the early days of Changamire from the same comic and even learn a bit about the history of Ramonda, T’Challa’s step-mother.
More than just a detailing of T’Challa’s history, however, Rise of the Black Panther #1 teases bigger events to come in future issues. We hear T’Chaka discuss Wakanda traveling to the stars with a new space program, which seems to set up the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda that was first glimpsed in Jason Aaron’s Marvel Legacy #1 last year. With Coates’ overseeing this book and Aaron stating the author has long wanted Wakanda to go to space, it’s safe to assume 2018 will see some monumental changes in the story of T’Challa, Wakanda, and the Black Panther.
Rise of the Black Panther #1 is out today.
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