BLACK PANTHER #13 by Ta-Nehisi Coates with art by Wilfredo Torres
Art
Plot
Characterization
Summary
As a newcomer, BLACK PANTHER #13 really roped me into the world of T'Challa and Wakanda, giving me just enough to be intrigued and just enough to know what's going on.
93 %

Truth be told, I’ve never really picked up a Black Panther story until now, but Ta-Nehisi Coates’ has me hooked from the start. I’ve always had a basic understanding of Black Panther through various crossovers with other characters in comics and in last year’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, but nothing too in-depth. Enter BLACK PANTHER #13. This comic is great for newcomers like me; it provides great exposition and insight into the world of T’Challa and Wakanda’s culture and religion.

BLACK PANTHER #13: The Story and Its Real World Implications

The first half of the book focuses on T’Challa and Ororo (Storm) engaged in deep discussion. They share their views on religion and, subsequently, how their respective cultures and religions influenced them.

“That is the history of Wakanda. Not the present.”

Storm on a BLACK PANTHER #13 variant cover
This BLACK PANTHER #13 variant cover shows the chasm between Storm and T’Challa. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

T’Challa is troubled by how the Orisha (the five Wakandan gods) have seemingly abandoned the people of Wakanda. As King, he was worried about the blasphemous questioning of the Orisha. It started cropping up all over the country. He tried to do his best to quell the thoughts of his people.

READ: Want more Black Panther? Read our review of BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA #6!

The metaphor of questioning the Wakandan religion may ring true for a lot of individuals today. Many people feel hopeless or abandoned in the face of tragedy. In one case, a council of elders begged T’Challa for his assistance, believing the gods abandoned them when a three-week rain drowned their crops. To help calm his people, T’Challa agreed to investigate, but only to find the rumors true. The Orisha abandoned Wakanda, leaving the gate unguarded for snake-men to come through and attack.

BLACK PANTHER #13: A Crisis of Faith?

Today, there are people all across the world who similarly question their faith. They wonder if they’re starving because they’ve wronged their gods, or if war exists because there are no gods.

People begin to question faith when their lives fall apart. This doesn’t even necessarily have to be about religion. T’Challa also knows that with the recent rebellion and the new system of government, people feel uneasy.

CLICK: Another great issue that recently released was X-MEN GOLD #2! Read the review!

In the United States, there’s a similar unease. People disapprove of the new administration. We find a similar sentiment in the United Kingdom with Brexit and also in France with their upcoming elections involving Marine Le Pen.

In this way, BLACK PANTHER #13 will speak to a large audience, an audience who feels lost. They feel their culture dying and their government broken beyond repair. Success seeming harder and harder to achieve only compounds their losses. This theme is key. It sets up the rest of the arc as T’Challa tries to get Wakandans to have faith again, in him, in their government, and the Orisha. Time will tell how Coates plays this storyline out, and see more parallels with the current world situation.

The Characterization in BLACK PANTHER #13

From what I’ve known of Black Panther, I’ve always viewed him as this confident king, someone who leads his people without fail. This issue corroborates this view. Even when his people have wavering faith in him, he continues to stand by them. T’Challa will always do whatever he can to quell their fears. He tries to figure out the perspective his people have — wondering if they are right and the Orisha have abandoned them. In the end, he just wants what’s best for his country and its inhabitants.

READ: Speaking of the current presidential administration, Trump declared war on the arts.

The Art in BLACK PANTHER #13

The penciling by Torres shows amazing and complex emotions from every character. For instance, as T’Challa talks about how the door is still open, you can see the concern on his face as his eyes look down, eyebrows furrow, body hunched over, and hands nervously rubbing one another. Two frames later you can see him transition to a soft smile and a warmer expression as Ororo leans onto his shoulder for comfort.

READ: Just in case you missed last issue, read our BLACK PANTHER #12 review here!

The inking by Martin and Crossley was just as great, giving each character their distinct color palette and causing the backgrounds and settings stand out from one another. The hotel suite, royal library, and forest locations all feel completely different, with different tones and textures attributed to each. Both the suite and the library exhibit luxury and comfort but in their own unique ways. On one hand, the suite goes for more of an elite Manhattan apartment with a champagne feel. Modern lamps and potted flowers litter the room as a wall full of large windows overlook the city. Conversely, the library feels more refined, technologically advanced, and sterile, with pristine glass, simple black couches, and lots of light with cool tones of silver and blue.

The Art is a “Forest Full of Wonders.” OK, I Tried! (It Really Kind of is, Though)

The forests depicted feel full of life and history, with tree trunks toppled, vines strung like party streamers and a giant canopy created by the overlapping tree tops. Both forests also have their distinct feels. The first forest, where T’Challa battles the snake-men on his own, has this warm glow of the sunset shining through, creating an angelic effect on the page and breaking up the earthy tones. The second forest battle feels more dire, with fog all around, making most of the environment difficult to make out, and only enhances the battle, as it gives us the impression of dust kicked up due to the rush of a fight. This continues until after the fight when the dust settles, and the forest becomes visible again.

Black Panther #13 The Wakandan Forest
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

My favorite artistic property in BLACK PANTHER #13 is perhaps the different styles allotted to the present day, T’Challa’s description of Wakandan history, and Storm’s brief description of her being a goddess. The present day looks like a representation of the real world, a perfect ratio between reality and cartoon. The scenes in the suite, library, and forests all feel more realistic, achieving a more cinematic effect. In T’Challa’s oral history of Wakanda, the penciling appears more geometric and less detailed, like ancient artwork one might find in a temple or chiseled onto stone. Finally, Storm’s one panel description of herself as a goddess appears more analogue than digital, with less shading involved and only a few select colors. Once again, something you might find in a historical site or textbook. It’s the most distinct panel in the whole issue, and one of my personal favorites.

BLACK PANTHER #13: The Bottom Line

In conclusion, BLACK PANTHER #13 is a fantastic read. I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of if they want to further their knowledge of the character or not. I look forward to what this creative team has in store for next week. I’m hoping in the rest of the arc, the mystery of the door, the snake-men, and the missing Orisha unfolds. I also cannot wait to see how Coates continues to examine the idea of a lack of faith in authority. How, and if, he gets the people of Wakanda to regain faith in their leader will undoubtedly prove an exciting read.

4 Comments

  1. Johnny

    May 5, 2017 at 8:47 am

    This was a great review! I can’t wait until finals are over and I can read everything I got from my comic book store!

    Reply

    • Jared Cox

      May 6, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks Johnny! You’re in for a treat!

      Reply

  2. Ryan R

    May 3, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Great review! Love the way you brought in current politics from around the world. Makes me appreciate the comic all the more!

    Reply

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