Jason Aaron, (Writer) Jefte Paolo, (Artist) and Lee Loughridge (Colorist)

I realized this past week just how bad Secret Invasion has me hooked when I purchased two books I don’t normally think about: X-Factor and She-Hulk. A day or two later, I came to the conclusion that all hope for me is lost when I found myself pumped for this week’s tie-in in the pages of Black Panther, another series I’ve never read (or cared for).

What begins as a test of technological wit between the Skrull invaders and the people of Wakanda quickly escalates into a brutal battle on foot in the start of Jason Aaron’s Black Panther arc. While there really isn’t a whole lot I can say without spoiling the best aspects of this clever confrontation, it can best be described as a near perfect combination of entertaining writing, straightforward storytelling, and fitting artwork. From the set up to the battle, everything about this issue feels suitably epic and all the pieces are in place to make for a memorable addition to the expanding Secret Invasion storyline.

Jason Aaron has already proven that he has a knack for writing well-crafted Marvel tales (thanks to his work on Wolverine and Ghost Rider), but this Black Panther story has the potential to be his best Marvel work yet. The Skrulls and Wakandans both get ample time to shine as Aaron masterfully builds tension while providing the information necessary to not only frame the conflict, but also get new readers acclimated to what the nation of Wakanda is all about. My only concern is that, since I am coming into the story as a new reader, there is a chance others may find his writing of the Wakandan people to be way off base. While I doubt that is the case, I figure it’s worth a mention. All in all, I couldn’t be much happier with Aaron’s effort and look forward to what he has in store for us next.

While I have been critical of both Jefte Paolo and Lee Loughridge in the past, their work is a perfect fit for this story. Dark, gritty, and violent, the visuals couldn’t be much more effective. The artists definitely take some cues from a few of the more famous Hollywood clashes, but don’t take it as a negative comment – some of the imagery is stunning and will quickly evoke some memorable movie moments. While I wish there was a bit more detail in a few panels, I can’t complain too much considering how well it works to tell the story.

To put it as bluntly as possible, this is one bad-ass comic. If this is par for the course for the Black Panther series, I’m going to have to go back and read what I missed. Highly recommended. (Grade A-)

-Kyle Posluszny

A Second Opinion

Awesome issue! This is what Secret Invasion should be. Jason Aaron’s best Marvel work to date. A couple more issues like this and I’ll have completely forgiven him for his atrocious Wolverine run.

Kyle is right, the art is devoid of backgrounds, but that’s just Jefte Paolo’s style and boy does it look awesome. It completely establishes the mood and keeps the tone consistent throughout the story. This art, in a way, reminds me of Jae Lee’s earlier, more brooding work (which I love).

Buy this issue. (Grade: A-)

– J. Montes