Daily 49er

Negative Space: Starting Black Panther

Some changes to the column, and a recommendation for where to get started with Marvel’s Black Panther.

Photo Illustration by Hunter Lee | Daily 49er

Photo Illustration by Hunter Lee | Daily 49er

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Welcome back to Negative Space, the Daily 49er’s formerly biweekly column on comic books. I say formerly because we’ll be doing this every week now!

The goal remains the same: to connect you with the best that comic books have to offer. Every week I’ll be recommending one book that fits into a monthly theme. So that you can access these books for free, all recommendations will be drawn from either the University Library or the Long Beach Public Library.

“Black Panther” hits the silver screen for only the second time this weekend, but he’s graced the pages of Marvel Comics for over fifty years. That’s a lot of history for new fans to catch up on – so don’t.

If more Black Panther is what you desire, then start with book one of the hero’s current series: “Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet.”

The book pulls developments from prior “Black Panther” adventures in a way that doesn’t require readers to be experts in the character’s history.

Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates pens a story that sees T’Challa, the Black Panther, return to his home country of Wakanda. The Black Panther is king in Wakanda, and T’Challa has reclaimed the throne after the death of the previous monarch – his sister Shuri.

Not all are pleased to have their former king resume his duties and a movement calling itself “The People” rises up.

Too often superhero tales want to forget that those we are meant to admire are flawed and have the potential to be a villain in someone else’s story. This balancing of perspectives allows Coates to create a larger and richer cast of characters which complements the pacing of the book.

Action is sparse, used only to develop characters. Shifts in setting and time are made evident through the art, not captions. The dialogue is largely used only when the illustrations of artist Brian Stelfreeze cannot convey the information we are meant to know. It’s exactly what a comic book should be: a pairing of text and visuals that utilizes both to tell its narrative.

It exists independently;, the story doesn’t require readers to go through any other books to understand. That, and the fact that it’s so good, make it a perfect entry point for new Black Panther fans.

“Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet – Book One” can be found at the University Library and at the Long Beach Public Library.

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