I feel like a dope for admitting how confusing I find the marketing/formatting of this product. It’s an audiobook, but I read it, and you can only get text samples from the website at the time of writing? Oh, wait, depending on what link you use, you can access both the text as well as audio narration by Chidi, I mean, William Jackson Harper (but honestly, I can see Chidi standing at a whiteboard, animatedly reading this out loud to me before offering me Peeps chili, lol.)
Anyway, I read this in its entirety and sampled the first chapter as audio. As far as Marvel novelizations go, it’s decent, with the edge probably going to the audiobook version (and I’m generally not good at listening to books, so this is pretty high praise from me.) King T’Challa of Wakanda a.k.a the Black Panther is pensive on the anniversary of his father’s death, wondering whether he’s doing his best in maintaining T’Chaka’s legacy, especially in the face of constant criticism from his still-isolationist council. When the Avengers call, letting him know that the villainous Graviton is heading to the neighboring country of (siiiigh) Rudyarda to steal secret technology, T’Challa leaps at the chance not only to do something heroic but also to prove to his council the worth of improving foreign relations, especially with a neighboring nation they share a contentious relationship with.
Post-apartheid Rudyarda is appropriately thankful for the help, even though casualties are high and destruction of infrastructure even worse. But when T’Challa later attends a benefit to help rebuild the city of (siiiiiigh) Kiplingaard, he’s assailed by an assassin whose subsequent death is captured on social media, labeling Black Panther a killer. Heading back to Wakanda under a cloud, he’s stunned by the sudden, mystifying appearance of perhaps the last person he’d expected to see: his very own father, whose secrets may go a long way to explaining recent mysterious events.
So the absolute ridiculousness of a Dutch colony naming itself after perhaps the most English colonial writer of all time aside — especially when the book later goes on to state that the founders were fleeing South Africa, which would definitively make the English their mortal enemies — this was a pretty good look at African politics, and how countries world-wide distort history in order to make themselves look like the good guys. It brings in a delightful number of supporting characters and villains, and tho I thought the crush T’Challa had on Misty Knight felt a little bit forced, honestly who could resist Misty Knight? I did think it was a little weird that Ant-Man was still Hank Pym, but I haven’t read the comics in years so I guess he’s back? Or this is just in a random timeline of its own, who knows.
As a Black Panther story, it’s quite entertaining, and the sound effects of the audiobook are pretty great. I couldn’t help thinking that this would have been better served as a traditional comic book tho. The action is both predominant and yet not detailed enough: the text felt like it needed more to bring it to life, whether it was the cool effects of the audiobook or gorgeously rendered panel illustrations. Overall, a worthy package that discusses the costs of isolationism — and a definite must-have for Black Panther fans — but not essential reading otherwise.
Marvel’s Black Panther: Sins Of The King by Ira Madison III, Geoffrey Thorne, Tananarive Due, Mohale Mashigo & Steven Barnes is a Serial Box exclusive and may be purchased here as audiobook with bonus ebook.