Black Panther: Long Live the King by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've only gotten into graphic novels in the past few years. (I say this because that's what I buy almost exclusively, with the only exception the individual issues of "Bitch Planet" because of the extra material.) Ta-Nehisi Coates' run on Black Panther is, of course, one of the highlights of my collection. I also admire Nnedi Okorafor's work. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to be a good fit for Black Panther, at least based on this.
The story of T'Challa going up against "sentient vibranium" (the first 3 issues of this collection) is just so-so. I do like the concept of "mute zones" that hack themselves off the Wakanda grid as part of a protest against the Wakandan monarchy. The second story (not by Okorafor), "Keep Your Friends Close," brings in T'Challa's sister Shuri (always welcome) and a resurrected M'Baku. That was okay, but not outstanding.
However, the third story, Nnedi Okorafor's "Under the Bridge," was worth the price of admission. This story of Ngozi, the interim Black Panther and Venom/Panther hybrid, touches on how mutants are treated in Nigeria in the Marvelverse. The protagonist is in a wheelchair and her Venom symbiote is, at varying points in the narrative, a many-fanged bipedal dragonfly and full-fledged raging dragon, ready to kill until Ngozi pulls her back. I would love to read more stories about Ngozi. The art is also better for "Under the Bridge," I think, with Ngozi in her bipedal dragonfly form sporting a cool black/white/cobalt blue costume.
Overall, not memorable except for "Under the Bridge." But I am down for more Ngozi.
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