REVIEW: ‘Black Panther,’ Issue #4

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Black Panther #4

Black Panther #4 is written by John Ridley, illustrated by Juann Cabal & Ibrahim Moustafa, colored by Matt Milla, and lettered & designed by VC’s Joe Sabino. It’s published by Marvel Comics. Part 4 of “The Long Shadow” finds T’Challa and Omalola heading back to Wakanda after their visit to Arakko, and T’Challa finally learns who has leaked the secrets of his sleeper agents. Meanwhile, Shuri uncovers a startling secret about the assassins pursuing her brothers and is nearly killed for her troubles.

Ever since “The Long Shadow” began, trust has been a central theme running throughout the series. T’Challa placed Wakandan sleeper agents throughout the world because he didn’t trust the world’s response to Wakanda becoming a democracy. However, that lack of trust extends to his fellow Avengers, even Storm, and he was married to her! Ridley starts to show the costs of T’Challa’s distrust as Storm approaches Gentle demanding to know what T’Challa talked to him about, and back in Wakanda, the newly formed parliament is undergoing a power struggle in the absence of its king.  Great storytelling comes from tension, and the tension in this issue is wonderfully crafted while never feeling manufactured.

The highlight of the issue is Moustafa and Cabal’s art; the latter really brings a cinematic flair to the fight scene that takes place at the end of the issue. When T’Challa transforms into the Black Panther, rings of energy fly out from his body, surrounding him and transforming into his Panther costume. Cabal then breaks up the following page into four panels that show T’Challa and his opponent squaring off before leaping at each other. Sabino punctuates each hit with a sound effect — including the sickening “krunch” and “krak” of a broken wrist and nose. Moustafa handles the sections of the book that are set on Arakko, which have a rich texture to them; this includes the cloudy texture of Storm’s hair and the lightning surrounding her body.

Color plays a large role in the book, especially the color black. Milla offsets the black elements in T’Challa’s Black Panther uniform with a blue sheen and Storm’s uniform with the golden adornments that mark her as the Regent of Arakko. This provides a neat contrast to the landscape of Wakanda, which is a shining metropolis whose border is covered in lush greenery. And a sequence featuring Shuri utilizing her computer technology finds her in the middle of a dark room, which is lit up by holographic projections. Milla also continues to differentiate between the shades of brown that represent Black characters’ skin; I’m glad that Storm is depicted as being dark-skinned which is something some colorists often forget (and shouldn’t).

Black Panther #4 continues to raise questions of trust, as the King of Wakanda learns that both his country and his family are under attack. The next issue promises to explore the ramifications of T’Challa’s actions, which could bring him into (further) conflict with his allies. Either way it goes, Ridley, Cabal, and other artists are shaping a Black Panther story that fans old and new will definitely want to pick up.

Black Panther #4 is available now wherever comics are sold.


Black Panther #4
4.5

TL;DR

Black Panther #4 continues to raise questions of trust, as the King of Wakanda learns that both his country and his family are under attack. The next issue promises to explore the ramifications of T’Challa’s actions, which could bring him into (further) conflict with his allies. Either way it goes, Ridley, Cabal, and other artists are shaping a Black Panther story that fans old and new will definitely want to pick up.