Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther run has had a fascinating evolution since beginning in 2016, with a shaky first year that saw Coates still acclimating to comic-book storytelling. Eventually he got the hang of writing a superhero book and the series significantly improved, taking a massive leap for the second volume sending T’Challa deep into space to face off against the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda. The book maintains a strong throughline of socio-political commentary while delivering exhilarating sci-fi action, and the narrative has only gotten deeper since T’Challa’s return to Earth. The villainous N’Jadaka has followed T’Challa back and resurrected the body of Erik Killmonger with the help of a Venom-esque alien symbiote, and now the forces of Wakanda are trying to stop their cosmic brethren from invading Earth and making it a part of their empire.
This exclusive preview of next week’s Black Panther opens with the two opposing Wakandan armies battling it out in front of the stargate to Earth, highlighting the crispness of Ryan Bodenheim and colorist Chris O’Halloran’s artwork. Bodenheim has a starker art style than main Black Panther artist Daniel Acuña, whose lush painted visuals heightened the cosmic fantasy, and it makes sense to bring Bodenheim on board as the war for Wakanda’s future reaches Earth. O’Halloran’s coloring adds texture and dimension to Bodenheim’s strong inks, using a limited color palette so that specific shades gain more storytelling significance. One small but effective coloring moment is when N’Jadaka is about to start talking to the symbiote, and O’Halloran outlines N’Jadaka with the pale yellow that glows from alien’s mouth and eyes, indicating how the symbiote has fully consumed the man’s body and mind.