Review – Black Panther: The Long Shadow #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: John Ridley
Artist: Juann Cabal
Colorist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Release Date: November 2021
I have been excited to review Black Panther: The Long Shadow #1 since it was initially announced. This is a new series that follows on from Jason Aaron’s brilliant Avengers run and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther run. Both of those series had some respective major events take place surrounding T’Challa, some of them being nothing less than universe-shifting.
Instead of dropping all of that baggage and starting afresh, John Ridley instead chooses to embrace the previously established lore of the preceding runs and works it into the story he is telling. This works remarkably well and rather than causing convolution and confusion, it instead helps this T’Challa’s universe feel lived in.
Balancing those elements is what allows the plot of The Long Shadow #1 to flow and feel easy to follow, even if you haven’t read Coates’ previous Black Panther run. It is also a wise decision to choose to follow on from Coates’ run in terms of allowing readers to tie this comic’s plot and design elements into the MCU.
This is because Ryan Coogler’s MCU version of the character took a lot of inspiration from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run. This results in the onscreen and on-page versions of T’Challa and his supporting cast feel familiar to each other.
Generally, I really enjoyed the way that Ridley wrote T’Challa in this issue. I had a good time reading through his dialogue and enjoyed reading his interactions with the other various Avengers team members present in the issue. T’Challa here feels consistent to what we have seen of him before, which is always something that is appreciated when a writer is swapped out between runs.
However, there was one thing that I didn’t love in terms of the writing in the issue. Although this is an exciting first issue packed with plenty of action, it is rather exposition heavy. A lot of pages feel somewhat arbitrary, as they exist purely to set up future plot elements and things that will only become important later in the run.
This is particularly obvious on the last page of the issue, which is used to tease where this run will go in the future. Whilst it was a visually interesting page, it felt slightly cheap and on-the-nose.
Speaking of the visuals, Juann Cabal’s artwork was a real stand out in this issue for me. His pencils and inks in combination with Federico Blee’s colouring resulting in vibrant, dynamic panels that were always interesting to look at. The opening sequence in the issue is a particularly glorious feast for the eyes and the crisp, beautiful illustration continues throughout.
Overall, this is a solid first issue. Frankly it is worth picking up for Alex Ross’ stunning front cover alone, but you will also find a compelling plot setup on the inside along with the enduring, charming characters that we all know and love from the Marvel universe. I am looking forward to seeing where this run goes and will definitely be picking up future issues when they drop.
If you enjoyed Dan’s review of Black Panther: The Long Shadow #1, check out what he thought of the Black Panther movie here.
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