By: Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Steve Epting (Artist), Frank D’Armata (colorist)
The Story: Black Panther travels to a different dimension and encounters a threat that is so big he has to call the Illuminati for help.
The Review: Jonathan Hickman is a man with a plan. In close to every long-term series that he has written, he has shown us that he does things meticulously, with an attention to detail that is sometime uncanny. It has leaded us to incredible stories during his tenure on Fantastic Four and FF. This kind of plotting can be very interesting to follow, with every hints and tease dropped with each subsequent chapter that manage to create a larger direction and narrative throughout the story. It can also, unfortunately, create cryptic chapter or things that make close to no sense until later in the book, creating a sense of incompleteness in a particular issue.
It is unfortunately the latter with the opening issue of this very promising series, with much that is teased, yet never truly explained or absolutely shown to us readers. There are a lot of interesting elements presented to us in this issue, mind you, but none of them are explained in context. Putting readers in the shadow and in doubt can produce various degrees of interest in a storyline, but here it is just confusing. What is the place where Black Panther has landed? Who are these people he is fighting? What does the machine that strange woman is holding? We need some proper context if we are to truly enjoy the issue and understand the action and significance of them.
It is doubly more important considering it is the very first issue of this series, the opening chapter to a most assuredly long planned saga that Jonathan Hickman wishes to present to us. While he tease and hints with almost every page and line of dialogue, this only gives us readers more questions than answers. It can be a fine way to present a conflict or to gather interest in what will happen next, but it leaves us here with no proper grasp on what happened to makes see why T’Challa is gathering the Illuminati.
Another small problem, which is truly more a point of view more than anything, would be the fact that we do not truly see the Illuminati acting together even once in this issue. We do not know why they are gathering in the ending of this issue, since most of the action is focused on T’Challa and his discovery of another dimension or universe. It is a bit unclear.
The way Black Panther is written in this issue, though, is superb, as you can see the cautious and well-trained warrior that he is, taking on heavily-armed soldiers and that super-powered woman with ease, which do get us some good action scenes. I have loved how Hickman has handled Black Panther in Fantastic Four and in his chapter of AVX, so to see him write that character in such a cool way is a blast. It’s just a shame that we do not get to truly see anything more than T’Challa for most of the issue.
What’s not a shame, however, is the quality of the art by Steve Epting. It has a dark and moody quality to it that makes it a great fit to the book, which has been presented to us as the darker side of the Marvel universe. He can draw some truly menacing characters and environment, while his technology is pretty down to earth, yet still fictional in the most interesting way. Guns, laser swords and possible doomsday devices, he can draw it all. The colors are also a big help, with the very somber palette chosen by Frank D’Armata, accentuating the darker work of Steve Epting. This issue does not disappoint on the art side of the equation.
The Conclusion: A kind of confusing read which is mostly setup and teasing with some dark and somber art.
Hugo Robberts Larivière