Between the siege by Atlantis, an invasion by Thanos himself, even internal conflicts among tribes, Wakanda has seen better days. Nnedi Okorafor’s Black Panther: Long Live the King opens in Birnin Zala, Wakanda’s capital city, on the eve of what its citizens perceive as an earthquake. In the aftermath of the event, there’s a city-wide blackout, affecting everything from residential homes and ATMs. The situation is just as dire in a local hospital. Doctors are faced with the reality of what it may mean for a child patient if power isn’t restored. Even the local bat population is affected, with their numbers becoming more abundant, behaviors increasingly erratic. T’Challa witnesses something just before the disaster, though he may be the only one to have seen it. Whatever happened could be attributed to any number of things, the least of which being a natural event.
The first in a 6 -part mini-series by Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Science Fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor, Long Live the King, may evoke thoughts of Hurricane Maria, and the effects that it still has on Puerto Rico to this day. The afro-futurist, widely known for novellas Binti and Who Fears Death is picking up the story set after the events of Ta-nehisi Coates’ monumental run. Those familiar with Okorafor’s previous work should rest easy that Wakanda and its citizens are in good hands.
“That’s very much a part of my identity, and it’s also very much a reason why I think I ended up writing science fiction and fantasy because I live on these borders – and these borders that allow me to see from multiple perspectives and kind of take things in and then kind of process certain ideas and certain stories in a very unique way. And that has led me to write this strange fiction that I write, which really isn’t that strange if you really look at it through a sort of skewed lens” Nnedi Okorafor – NPR.com
André Lima Araújo’s pencils are excellent per usual, if you’re familiar with his work in Avengers A.I. or Image Comics’ Generation Gone. (We also interviewed him earlier this year in a hilarious episode of the FanBrosShow podcast–listen now!). There are several pages without dialogue to allow his art to shine. I love seeing author and artist pairings work out so well. It’s like we’re seeing an actual partnership on page, and not just a simple collaboration. Even without Okorafor’s dialogue, Araujo is able to tell the story through artistic expression. It may seem kind of a no-brainer, but this isn’t as simple to achieve as you would think. Look no further than the late 90’s/early 00’s when it seemed that publishers either focused too heavily on prose over artwork, or vice versa, and rarely excelling in either regard within the same title. There’s been recent talk of whether artwork can sell a title or not. Regardless of your stance on the matter, Araújo’s art “moves the needle” just nicely.
Marvel Comics’ Black Panther: Long Live the King launched on December 13th, from digital distributor, comiXology. The title debuts as a part of the “comiXology Originals” line, geared toward readers who prefer their comics digital, and not paperback. Since the distributor is owned by Amazon, Long Live the King is available on Kindle as well.
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