BLACK PANTHER #12 | Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates | Penciler: Brian Stelfreeze and Chris Sprouse | Colorist: Laura Martin and Matt Milla | Letterer: Joe Sabino | Release Date: March 22, 2017 | Price: $3.99
In Black Panther #12, we are in the aftermath of the war. Tetu has been apprehended but Zenzi runs free. The king T’Challa, Shuri, Changamire, Ayo, Aneka, and others meet to discuss the outcome of the war. This issue was primarily a cool-down from the heat of war. They are discussing the restoration of Wakanda to its previous state. There wasn’t much action, but there was a lot of interesting, and in some cases controversial conversation.
It starts with the king addressing Aneka’s revolution, even congratulating her for her bravery. The impasse is that she wishes to stand with Wakanda, but without the King or “No One Man” in charge. The problem is of course that the revolution caused division and inherently the loss of life within that division. T’Challa wishes to see them stand together.
Later, Aneka curses the King’s name and expresses her disgust with his leadership. It takes the wise tongue of Changamire to explain to look at things through another lens. She takes this new perspective, and drops tears in the realization. The scene then again shifts to Panther speaking to Shuri, and then to Eden, who eventually teleports him into Storm’s office. Yes, that Storm. Mrs. Ororo Munroe. Quite the cliffhanger to be sure.
There’s a few things I want to talk about in this issue that don’t sit well with me. The first refers to a comment made by Shuri in response to a Wakandan woman who speaks of the horrors that plagued them in some parts of Wakanda. What really has me thinking here is when she asks whether Aneka and Ayo should have left them to be raped and killed.
Shuri steps up to the plate and says “Yes, M’bali, that is exactly what you are supposed to do.” Waiting for a reasonable I continued to read on. There was none. In fact, in more or less words, she continues on to imply that the rapings and killings was a small price to pay for the stability of Wakanda. To me, this is completely out of character for a woman, much less Shuri, to state. This is basically an attempt to take the heat off of the leadership’s blind eye by stating that being raped and killed is simply a sacrifice. This bothered me to no end. Further, the fact that T’Challa didn’t address this made this even worse.
The other thing that comes to mind is T’Challa’s constant struggle with the idea of being King. This is foreign to me, especially in comparison to past runs of Black Panther. I’ve seen him struggle with leadership responsibilities or social, economic and political issues, but I don’t recall him much struggling with the idea of him being King at all. Furthermore by the end of the issue he quickly reconciles this. This seems to imply some uncertainty with the writing expressing his internal struggle. At the end of the day, he does seem to come to a resolve with Aneka and her softened heart, and they decide to stand together.
The cover of this issue is representative of the topic at hand, with Aneka and Black Panther standing on either side of one another, helmets off in diplomacy. I like the dividing line in the center and the orange backdrop with rising plumes of smoke. Between the pages, as always, Stelfreeze manages to accomplish the amazing task of creative powerful images of black people. It’s beautiful, and adding Laura Martin’s coloring schemes are works of art to die for. I am absolutely in love with this creative team and look forward to them in every issue.
Black Panther #12 starts a new arc, and like the other issues it moves slow. It does have compelling conversation throughout, which will keep the reader engaged, as long as you’re into that sort of thing. My issues are those with Shuri’s voice in that one instance more than anything else. It does not fit her, and despite reading the page and the conversation multiple times over, I can’t absolve her from those words. It really does not sit well with me. I would still pick the issue up. It’s a nice cool down from the war, and the writing is still excellent, but don’t expect much action.