Why is the Thundercats logo dotted around Wakanda?
I counted 7 Thundercats logos on the buildings of Wakanda in this issue. I was half expecting Lion-O or Panthro to make a guest appearance. Is this Wakanda or New Thundera? Anyway in this issue Reed, Sue and the Future Foundation are in Wakanda to supposedly assist in the vibranium shortage problem. But as they soon discover, the problem is far more severe than that.
· As always, Hickman provides strong characterisation of many characters in this issue. In particular, T’Challa gets some awesome moments in this issue such as his lines to one bratty Future Foundation student about his recent situation as well as explaining to Reed why even in dire situations, Wakanda has always been ahead of the curve, able to deal with any situation, even when its primary resource is gone. Hickman nails T’Challa’s intelligence, toughness and authority in this issue which are the essentials of T’Challa’s character.
· Also, Hickman’s story links in well with the past stories such as Doomwar and provides a resolute, clever solution to Wakanda’s vibranium shortage in that T’Challa liquidated small amounts of vibranium every day before investing it in heavily emerging economies, thus allowing Wakanda to thrive even without its vibranium stores. The line that Wakanda had been paying up American debt made me chuckle.
· Of course this leads onto the main threat in the story. As well as strong characterisation, Hickman has taken the FF on some wild, extravagant adventures. From the deep reaches of outer space to other dimensions and beyond, you’d be forgiven for thinking a more mystical, mythological Fantastic Four story wouldn’t work. Of course, Hickman makes it work brilliantly. Tying Egyptian mythology and gods like Anubis and Amun-Ra into Wakanda’s origins is a gutsy move that plays well into the story. Gutsier still is Hickman’s making the Wakandan Panther god Bast into possibly being the Egyptian Cat goddess Bastet is once again a great story twist. Hickman meshes these elements of Egytian legend such as Amun Ra’s heart being given to the Wakandans and painting one individual with its blood in the shape of a Panther is a move that plays up the mystical side of Wakanda well.
· Although I don’t read Future Foundation (or FF as it’s called) Hickman does link the Future Foundation well into this issue. They don’t steal the show as they have their own Wakanda issue but their presence in this issue demonstrates that Hickman isn’t shoving them to the side completely to be ignored.
· Although there’s not much, there is a brief bit of action as the Fantastic Four, Storm and Black Panther take on Anubis’ skeleton army. It’s a short but sweet sequence where everyone gets a cool moment in the fight. It serves its purpose at demonstrating the threat at hand to Wakanda. And of course, Hickman sets up the next issue’s events well with clear explanations of what everyone is doing. Reed and T’Challa seem to be going on a journey of knowledge somewhere, maybe to the underworld and Sue, Storm and Shuri are on their way to the Panther god Bast to deal with the current undead army daily attacks.
· Mike Choi and Guru-eFX deliver a fantastic cover. The light yellow/golden background behind Black Panther is wonderful and Black Panther’s regal position on the Panther throne is awesome. The pencils are detailed and the colours are deep and rich.
· Although Hickman provides strong characterisation for Reed and T’Challa, he fails to show the same attention to Sue, Storm and Shuri. Sue and Storm only get a few lines in the issue whilst all Shuri does is smile and point her spear at the intruding skeletal army. Hickman doesn’t do much at all to show why Shuri has become a great leader of Wakanda and I’m left wondering why T’Challa isn’t back in the hotseat.
· Even great writers like Hickman can fall prey to the flaw of ignoring the Storm/Panther marriage. There’s no love, no close relationship between these two, no spark in the relationship of these two characters present before the marriage. Hickman and many other Marvel writers have failed to utilise the potential of this fictional marriage. Hopefully now that Storm and T’Challa are divorced, we can see them in far better relationships than their marriage ever was.
· Hickman didn’t provide an explanation as to how Bast is alive again after her death in Chaos War. Hopefully some form of explanation will be given in this issue about how death has been cheated yet again.
· The biggest flaw with the issue is the art. The parts where Camuncoli’s work is present do shine through, particularly the flashback sequences but Kesel’s finishes are jarring and scratchy. There’s a page of Storm and T’Challa preparing to fight the skeletal army that demonstrates how bad the art is. Storm looks awful and Kesel’s attempt to do a Kirby fails to capture the dynamic action Kirby provided on the page with his rough pencils. As such, this amongst other instances of rough facial expressions drag the art down a lot.
Nonetheless, this is a good jump on point for readers. Hickman delivers an enjoyable read that should get better in the next issues. Although I’m only reading 607-611, I can’t wait to see how Hickman will end his legendary run on the title!