Friday, February 16, 2018

Book Review: Marvel Black Panther Prelude by W. Corona Pilgrim et al.

Marvel Black Panther Prelude written by Will Corona Pilgrim, art by Annapaolo Martello, colors by Jordan Boyd, with contributions from many artists and writers from earlier Marvel incarnations of the Black Panther

This book collects several Black Panther stories told through the years featuring.

The first story is a two-issue tale meant as a prelude to the Black Panther movie. The story establishes the cinematic relationship between T'Challa and his father T'Chaka, king of Wakanda. The father is passing the Black Panther mantel to his son. T'Challa uses his skills well defending their hidden country and its citizens abroad. I don't think I learned much about the characters or where the movie is going. The story is mostly action with a few cautionary words about not being as obvious as Tony Stark. So I don't think the story is really necessary for seeing the movie or even worth reading.

The second story is from 1972, with the Black Panther returning to Wakanda to avert an insurgency by Killmonger, a disgruntled native. The story has plenty of action and promises a tough but rewarding path to victory for T'Challa. It s fun but unfinished tale.

The third story is from the 1990s reboot of Black Panther, where he travels to New York City to deal with problems at Wakanda's consulate. He has to fight some local hoods, too, though he is seems more interested in putting them on a straighter and narrower path. Other than the cool action, not much happens in this one issue part of a story.

The fourth story (from 2005) presents an origin story for T'Challa as he becomes the Black Panther. One day every year, local Wakandans can challenge the king to combat. If the local person wins, he or she becomes the new ruler of Wakanda. In disguise, T'Challa beats his uncle to gain the throne. T'Challa's sister Shuri tried to get into the fight but came too late. The villain Klaw is introduced briefly at the end. The set-up is fairly interesting but that is all it is--set-up for an ongoing story.

The final story (from 2016) has the Black Panther returning to Wakanda to quell an uprising by the vibranium miners. He has a difficult time because they are being manipulated by some sort of (maybe?) sorceress who wants to sow the seeds of liberation. Other royal intrigues are going on--the queen mother (who has been ruling in T'Challa's absence) has to order the execution of a rogue member of the Dora Milaje, the female warriors who are supposed to protect the king and the country. Another pair of dishonored Dora Milaje are ready to start their own revolt. Plenty of plot lines are introduced but again this story is just the set-up for a longer narrative.

Each story ends with a reference to where the story continues (the first continues in the movie, the others in graphic novels on sale at your local bookstore), making this book more of a Black Panther sampler/advertisement rather than any one complete story. I am intrigued enough to try out some of them, though I am glad I got this from the library rather than buying it.

Recommended as a starting point for getting into one of the many different Black Panther narratives.

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