Intrigued by the release of the new Black Panther film earlier this year, I decided to try out some of the Black Panther comics which have preceded it. I started with the only comic book I could find at my local library that had “book one” in the title, which turned out to be a 2016 rejuvenation of the series. The slender volume I picked up was Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
While I did not find A Nation Under Our Feet particularly coherent or artistically impressive, the comic does provide an intro into the Black Panther world for those who, like me, are curious about the latest superhero Marvel has transferred from comic book to silver screen. Perhaps the best part of the comic is the last half, which includes a map and history of Wakanda and concludes with a snippet from the very first 1966 comic Black Panther appeared in, where Black Panther features as a character the Fantastic Four encounter. (Or should I say face? Black Panther has changed a lot since his first debut 🙂 .)
In spite of cartoonish colors and somewhat cheesy dialogue, I found myself enjoying the older comic more than the new one. The authors (Stan Lee being a prominent one) have a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and use their powers as narrators to talk directly to the audience. Further, although the artwork is not nearly as slick as in more recent Black Panther installments, I thought it was laid out well and kept the story easy to follow. Finally, while certain tidbits—such as asbestos being an innovative material—certainly date the comic, I actually found these aspects to be part of the appeal.