It’s been over two years since Marvel’s Black Panther relaunched with the fresh creative team of Ta-Nehesi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze. In that time, McCarther Genius Grant winner Coates and associated creators have crafted Marvel’s most stable and thoughtful All-New All-Different era comic.
Taking inspiration from Jonathan Hickman’s detailed world-building approach (it’s right there in the first issue with a surprising indebtedness to Infinity and New Avengers), Coates and company are diving deep into Wakandan politics and class systems. It’s a tried and true method of expanding a Black Panther ongoing beyond the exploits of T’Challa (see for example the early 70’s Panther’s Rage). In the hands of Coates and Stelfreeze, Black Panther is taking a serious look at political systems and what it means to be a legitimate king.
Sure, it’s absolute strategic lunacy that the Marvel Legacy introduction to Black Panther is part seven of the “Avengers of the New World” storyline. As much as I love creating doors for new readers, though, Coates’ and company’s Black Panther has been an intertwined novel from the start, and to expect the long-form careful crafting to suddenly take a break is irrational.
So here’s the rub: Although Black Panther #166 is a window into the back story of Black Panther’s archnemesis Klaw (and Coates and the creative team get credit for actually making an effort to tie into the vague aims of Legacy), it’s simply irrational to start this deep into such a detailed ongoing narrative.
So yes, I highly recommend you read Black Panther, but I do not recommend starting with Black Panther #166.
On a side note, my absolute favorite thing about Black Panther #166 is the issue references Marvel Unlimited in an editorial note! Corporate synergy! Encouraging readers to check out the actual legacy of these characters through the amazing catalog of the publisher’s history! What a day!
Seriously, though, I’ve been saying for close to five years now that Marvel is seriously under-promoting their most beloved service, and biggest competitive advantage. I’m still discouraged that an initiative like Legacy – built on the idea of connecting to old comics – didn’t include in-comic promos to encourage MU subscriptions. Nonetheless, telling direct-market or digital readers to turn to Marvel Unlimited for Fantastic Four #53 (and the origins of Klaw) is an awesome sign.