BLACK PANTHER #1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Daniel Acuña
BLACK PANTHER #1 is definitely worth your time. It has excellent world-building that develops both the plot and the characters. Daniel Acuña's art is very telling of the tone of the comic. Overall, it's a great read!
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Rebellion has come to the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda. In BLACK PANTHER #1, from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and artist Daniel Acuña, readers get to see the true extent of the Wakandan Empire. We also see how everything has started to go wrong.

Assessing the Empire in BLACK PANTHER #1

In a colony that once was dying, the officers of the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda have captured a group of people to mine for vibranium. Included in the group is a man with nothing but flashes of images for memories. He causes trouble multiple times amongst the guards and prisoners. After his one-man uprising in the colony, he catches the attention of a group of rebels. Having determined that this man is important to the fight against the Empire of Wakanda, a prison break occurs.

Writing Out a History

Ta-Nehisi Coates shows off some excellent world-building skills in BLACK PANTHER #1. In creating this world that centers around the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, Coates sets up struggles that will drive the plot. Coates also allows for characters to develop through his world-building.


Coates created a world with clear dynamics that can easily become more complicated to further the plot. The first thing that readers see established is the existence and extensive reach of the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda. Then, we are introduced to the status quo for many people: imprisonment as vibranium miners. Through this, we learn that there are problems within this society, and these problems can’t be easily fixed, because the empire is too strong. In order for the story to progress further, something must be upset. We see that in both the one-man rebellion and in the appearance of an organized, well-equipped group of rebels. Therefore, by establishing the existence of these rebellions, we see the foundation for a plot.

The world-building Coates uses helps to establish the man without memories as a character. His first act of rebellion is met with a response from one of the guards, referring to the man as property of the emperor. In setting the precedent that prisoners are slaves, set to hard work in manual labor, we learn a lot about this man. It becomes clear that he is not content with the way things are. When the rebellion comes for him, it also becomes clear that he is a good man. He, without hesitation, saves an alien who had attacked and threatened him earlier on in BLACK PANTHER #1. This man goes against the world around him, showing how important that world is to developing his character.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Clear Then Blurry Details and Darkness

Daniel Acuña creates an interesting contrast between clear and blurred details that reflect the tone of BLACK PANTHER #1. The features of the humans in the issue are usually pretty blurry, especially involving the man without memory. In this blurriness, we see the uncertainty of the situation. We see how he lacks clarity of who is and where he belongs. Readers also know how the situation lacks complete clarity because it is reflected in the blurry quality of the illustration. However, some details appear very clear, showing how those things are definitive. For example, the alien who seems to be the leader of the rebellion is in clear detail. We get right into who they are. We learn right away why they are there and how they view things. Therefore, the switches between blurry and clear details display the tonal qualities of the comic.


Acuña also uses coloring to reflect a different aspect of the comic’s tone. BLACK PANTHER #1 is undoubtedly a dark issue. With slavery to an uncaring empire and death and mistreatment appearing everywhere, times are tough, and the coloring of the comic reflects this. The coloring generally uses a very dark palette, making great use of shadow. This palette definitely doesn’t allow for a very happy tone to emerge, and that’s fitting of the topic. With nothing to be happy for, and violence as the only hope to end this sadness, why should things seem happy? Therefore the palette used in BLACK PANTHER #1 facilitates an air of misery and darkness.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Some Final Thoughts

BLACK PANTHER #1 made for a strong start to the series. Ta-Nehisi Coates uses thorough world-building to establish a plot and characters. Daniel Acuña uses a mix of blurry and clear details and a dark palette to reflect the tone of the issue. Overall, I am very happy with how this issue turned out. I went into this with high hopes. I’m sure I was not the only one expecting a lot after the BLACK PANTHER movie, and this comic lived up to those hopes. It established a new and interesting story and used telling art to help that story along. I have nothing but good feelings about future issues.

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