Ultimate Black Panther #1
THE NEW ULTIMATE BLACK PANTHER! In the wake of ULTIMATE INVASION, Khonshu and Ra — the force known together as Moon Knight — are seeking to expand their brutal control of the continent of Africa. In response, the lone bulwark against them, the isolated nation of Wakanda, will send forth its champion… its king… the Black Panther! From the creative minds of Bryan Hill (BLADE, KILLMONGER) and Stefano Caselli (X-MEN: RED, AVENGERS) comes a bold new take on the world of Black Panther and Wakanda!
Launching a new comic book universe is always challenging, especially when it involves revamping another ongoing universe of stories. There’s a need to manage expectations while maintaining artistic and creative integrity, a feat not easily accomplished in today’s age of constant I.P. overload in the art world. While Jonathan Hickman’s new Ultimate Universe has succeeded in that, the true test of its integrity and exciting new vision for the Marvel Universe was always going to be the first book released under this new line, not written by him. With the weight of the universe on his shoulders, Bryan Hill has stepped up to the plate alongside artist Stefano Caselli, and together they have hit a home run with Ultimate Black Panther #1.
It is the quintessential new reader title; its inspirations draw heavily from the film adaptation of the character and diverge very little from it as a base of inspiration, except for some key surprises that are sure to shock. However, this allows the team to get a little raw with the themes of political kingship they’re looking to explore while injecting their own inspirations into what is arguably the most recognizable version of the Black Panther’s world. The team can introduce all the players, plot beats, and character dilemmas important to this first arc because of how they aligned themselves with iconography while still focusing on something much different at the core than the films.
It’s a breeze to read with brilliant character writing layered into a smooth, but still meaty, narrative taste. Just from this first issue, you understand T’Challa’s inner and outer conflicts both as a human being and as the king of Wakanda. There’s pressure in this that keeps the book tense at all times, Wakanda under T’Challa feeling like a powder keg waiting to go off at the first hint of arrogance. Seeing how this affects the dynamics with his sister Shuri and his Queen Okoye is the central core of the issue, and it’s a juicy one. In the background of this, we see the harrowing establishment of our main antagonists that, while they don’t hold much character weight at the moment, open the book with a strong thematic core that only grows more terrifying when juxtaposed with the shaky nature of T’Challa’s kingship. The book even establishes a pair of incredibly intriguing, but well-known, characters to the fray with new versions of Killmonger and Storm that seem at ideological, but not moral, odds with how T’Challa plans to handle the coming war with Moon Knight.
It’s all interwoven beautifully with an almost political-thriller sense of tension, boosted greatly by Stefano Caselli’s best work in a while. His pencils are clean yet dynamic, solidified by David Curiel’s coloring that simply oozes atmosphere with a strong and defining palette for the nation of Wakanda. Caselli himself brings a lot of detail in defining how different the nation looks throughout, with authentic representations of African culture that don’t simply boil down to false imitations of what’s been done before within the pages of 616-Black Panther comics.
Ultimate Black Panther #1 is the familiar yet fresh take T'Challa and the Kingdom of Wakanda have been in desperate need of for the last three years. With so much potential brimming on the book's future, this is a must-read for anyone even considering jumping into Marvel's new Ultimate Universe.
Ultimate Black Panther #1: A New King Rises
- Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
- Storyline - 7.5/107.5/10
- Art - 8.5/108.5/10
- Color - 8.5/108.5/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10
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