BLACK PANTHER & THE CREW #1 finally debuts, and much applause is needed for a powerful issue that hits the ground running. We’re not only introduced to an amazing cast and setting, but we also get a spotlight on some of the social injustices and issues that go on in the black community today. An entertaining read from start to finish, BLACK PANTHER & THE CREW #1 is a strong start in the right direction.

The issue begins with Misty Knight narrating the story of activist Ezra Keith, a man who fought against crime and injustice in Harlem with the help of his super-powered team. Ezra, however, suddenly dies in police custody, and now it’s up to Misty Knight to find out his cause of death before Harlem begins to riot against the police. Along the way, Misty is joined by fellow hero Storm, and what follows is an exploration into not only the mystery behind the death, but also the growing issue of police brutality and gentrification in the black community.

Black Panther & the Crew #1
Image from Black Panther & the Crew #1, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates lays out the groundwork for a tale that will explore the importance of Harlem and its community, told through the interactions and dialogue of each character, as evidenced through Misty Knight’s narration. As the Harlem native works to solve the mystery behind Ezra’s death, we get a look at a calm and collected mindset on the subject of police ethics and crime, a side of the argument that needs to be focused on now more than ever in this day and age. Simultaneously, we also get the furious side of the argument through Ezra’s family and friends who seek swift justice. While one can try to rise above violence and anger for the most part like Misty, there are some that choose to make their voices known through action, and both sides constantly butt heads in an effort to try and bring about change and truth.  Police brutality is a troubling and volatile issue to handle, and Coates does well to show two very different and emotional viewpoints on it, even connecting it to the growing gentrification and change of status quo that Harlem and many other communities go through today. There are a few comics out now that tackle at-home issues that most don’t cover, but BLACK PANTHER & THE CREW #1 is aiming to take it to a more personal level.

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Coates provides us an impressive interpretation of Misty Knight, a character that can not only be angered by the crimes and conflicts around her, but also stay calm and collected to do accurately do her detective work. Knight is a perfect lead and figure for this issue, being able to be on both sides of the coin, while also having a history with the setting and many of the heroes that are associated with Harlem, such as Luke Cage.  The same can be said for the presentation of Storm, who has an engaging conversation with Knight about Harlem and the changing times around them. The dialogue between the two feels like something you could see happen in real life because it is so personal, and, while you’re aware they’re both renowned heroes, throughout the issue they feel like normal people. They have every right to feel concerned and worried about the political and social problems affecting their home and community, and that’s something every person can feel whether they live in Harlem or not.

Black Panther & the Crew #1
Image from Black Panther & the Crew #1, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The art this issue, handled by Butch Guice, Scott Hanna, and Dan Brown, works spectacularly with the story in order to provide an almost cinematic experience. The scene of Ezra and his team fighting in the warehouse in the beginning of the issue in particular is well drawn, and the panels of Ezra against the burning background provide intensity to his words with a nice touch. In addition, the backgrounds on each page, particularly with panels of Harlem buildings and its natural environment, express the feel of the community itself with the colors and style. It so closely resembles its real-life counterpart that it’s uncanny, and appropriately adds to the tone and personal issues of the story.

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BLACK PANTHER & THE CREW #1 is a brilliant start to a comic that is sure to resonate well with readers all over, as it tackles growing conflict and frustration present in our world today while providing compelling characters and art. Carefully tackling these issues is key, and Coates and the rest of the team are on the right track to present them to a larger audience. Misty Knight and our heroes are going to be plenty busy as the mystery unfolds, and you should make sure to pick this book up to witness a new level of greatness.

BLACK PANTHER AND THE CREW #1 hits the ground running, with action, strong characters, and an exploration into the conflicts and issues that plague some communities today.
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