By: Jonathan Hickman (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (breakdowns), Karl Kesel (finishes), Paul Mounts (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)

The Story: Black Panther accepts a new mantle in order to defend Wakanda from the undead threat.

The Review: I imagine that there are going to be many readers that are thrilled about this comic simply because it’s essentially a Black Panther/Wakanda comic with Sue and Reed as guest stars.  In some ways, I can understand that appeal; there really should be a monthly Wakanda book and Hickman, Camuncoli, and Kesel do a solid job of immersing us in that pseudo-African, myth-heavy world in all of its exotic (and possibly exoticist?) splender.

The problem, however, is that the actual plot is extremely thin and poorly developed.  We’re suddenly told that Anubis is the bad guy responsible for the recent attacks but…why exactly?  No particularly nuanced or developed motivation is provided.  In fact, Anubis doesn’t even have any real dialogue, only repeating the same words again and again.  He’s nothing more than a big monster for Sue, Storm, and Shuri to punch a bunch of times.  It all feels pretty hollow and it’s almost as though this should be, at the very least, part four of a four part arc, when really, we’ve only had one issue prior to this.  Things just haven’t been developed enough for Anubis, or this plot, to have any real meaning or significance.  Instead, there’s zero investment from the reader and some confusion.  The whole Anubis thing, for instance, feels random.

The plot involving Reed and T’Challa in the City of the Dead fairs a bit better.  Again, Hickman and his artists do a solid job of immersing us in Wakandan myth, spiritualism, and culture.  The whole City of the Dead was a rather cool setting.  The plot itself, however, is again lost in ambiguities.  Black Panther ends up getting a power upgrade and his new “kingdom” is a good idea, but the main punchline ends up being little more than the fact that T’Challa and Reed’s fates are “intertwined.”  We get nothing more than that which means, essentially, that it doesn’t mean very much beyond sounding badass.  Moreover, the fact that Hickman is leaving in October means that it’s quite likely that this will never be developed anyway.

The art is, more often than not, unremarkable.  Again, Camuncoli and Kesel do a good job on the backgrounds and settings, though I attribute much of that to Paul Mounts’ bright, sun-bathed colors.  Funnily enough, I also prefer Kesel working with Camuncoli over Camucoli’s solo work, as Kesel’s finishes do a good job of smoothing out some of Camuncoli’s idiosyncracies (his squarish faces, for example).  That said, the art is, more than anything, unremarkable and forgettable.  There’s nothing that really catches the eye or impresses.  It’s merely competent, no more and no less, and not at all memorable.  That’s really a shame given, by comparison, how glorious the art was on last month’s issue of FF.

Conclusion: A mediocre, poorly developed script meets art that’s merely passable.  I have a feeling that Hickman’s Fantastic Four/FF work post-Fantastic Four #604 (when Hickman wanted to end his run, but for Marvel’s insistence) will be treated much like Rucka’s final arc, “Cutter”, on Batwoman’s Detective Comics.  That is, it’ll probably end up being largely overlooked and forgotten.  Well, hopefully with the exception of that awesome “Ben Grimm in the future” done-in-one one and the hilarious “Annihilus on the toilet” issue of FF.

Grade: C

-Alex Evans

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