‘The Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet’ follows themes of leadership and revolution

Marvel Entertainment

Joaquin Figueroa, Reporter

King T’Challa’s nation burns around him as his people become possessed by an evil woman and a group of supervillains assembled to take him down. The agitated T’Challa pledges to rid his country of all evil this woman has caused, yet even his mother attempts to open his eyes to the bloodshed he commits against his country in trying to save it, the conflicted King T’Challa is too lost in his ways to recognize this. 

“The Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1” is the first Black Panther comic book written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a major activist in the fight for racial equality, who began writing the series in 2016, and will finish with the final issue, Black Panther #25, releasing in April. The first installment came out two years before the blockbuster “Black Panther” movie was released. The comic book shares the importance of having a major Black superhero, especially with the growing fight for racial equality and the importance that The Black Panther carries for Black people around the world. Not only does Mr. Coates share the importance of having this superhero, but also the very real and relevant theme of bad leadership and the effects that bad leadership can have on an organization.

Two supervillains, Zenzi and Tetu, ignite a rebellion against King T’Challa. Zenzi has the ability to possess people and ignite a rage in them. When she does this to the army that she and Tetu build up, they start a war on Wakanda. King T’Challa has been killing the possessed Wakandans, causing other Wakandans to support the rebellion against the leader, who in their eyes has turned on his own people. King T’Challa struggles with knowing when to be a king and lead, versus when to become The Black Panther and fight to rid his country of all evil.

Coates said in doing research to write the comic, he believes T’Challa is a reluctant king, who is always seeking to fight but not to lead. This becomes the main theme rather than a typical superhero comic with a lot of fighting. The theme of bad leadership makes the reader stop, think and make connections to the effects that it has on society, which has been seen to a high degree as recently as January with the insurrection on the Capitol.

I craved to see the Black Panther in action, but unfortunately, fight scenes are brief and scarce. Instead, the story is more about King T’Challa, rather than The Black Panther. It goes through his struggles of trying to find a way as a king rather than being overcome by his temptation to always fight. At times it can be hard to stay interested with the lack of action and deeper thinking that comes with reading this comic.

Crisp, entertaining illustrations by Brian Stelfreeze feel just like another comic book despite the unconventional storyline. Stelfreeze uses jagged and sharp lines, and distinct details in each panel. He also uses bright and varying colors, which keep the comic engaging despite the lack of action.

“The Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1” lacks superhero action fighting but is abundant in reflection on society.