Review: Black Panther #166

Black Panther’s greatest foe has returned – Ulysses Klaw is back and ready for war! Can T’Challa defeat the man who killed his father all while his country struggles to its feet?  And as war looms, Wakanda’s gods have disappeared. Enter the Originators! The former gods are back – but what are their intentions for a land that has forgotten them?

That’s a lot to cover in Black Panther #166, the first issue for Marvel’s Legacy banner. The issue though covers little of it. For a comic featuring the title of Black Panther, the character is only present in 1 page at the very end. It’s an interesting and in some ways bold choice, but the issue instead focuses on Klaw.

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates spends the issue not giving folks a comic about Black Panther, but instead an issue dedicated to his enemy and in some ways makes the villain somewhat sympathetic. It’s all an interesting, but slightly bizarre, choice of direction as Marvel Legacy is supposed to be an entry point for new readers. On that aspect the comic fails in so many ways as it doesn’t present the title character much at all. However, as an issue, the comic soars. By ignoring it’s “mandate,” it actually delivers a hell of a comic, though one that’s arguable if it completes its goal of bringing in new readers.

Coates’ writing has improved since he came onto the series and the issue itself is really good giving us an origin of Klaw and some motivation as to what he wants. It also gives a very general idea of some of the other politics surrounding Wakanda. But, beyond the last page, the comic is Black Panther-less, a choice I’m left a little befuddled by. But, beyond that, the writing is excellent and then some.

Leonard Kirk takes over on the art and it’s solid, though eclipsed in quality by the writing. Kirk handles some inking with Marc Deering on that as well and Laura Martin on the colors. It’s the colors to me that are really interesting as Klaw often is portrayed as nebulous sound relying on a red streak to sub in for the character. It’s that use of reds that stand out as really interesting. Kirk’s art as a whole is really good and solid and should be enough to gain interest from new readers checking out the series.

Though it’s rather confusing to not include the main character in a pivotal issue for new readers, the comic presented is well written with great art. So, things rely on what you expected and are looking for as to the comics’ success. On its own, it’s a great read.

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates Art: Leonard Kirk
Ink: Leonard Kirk, Marc Deering Color: Laura Martin
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.35 Recommendation: Buy