Ever since the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced the world to ‘Black Panther’ it is impossible to wonder ‘Who is the Black Panther?’ but that is the question which author Jesse J. Holland had to answer for readers everywhere. The novel served not just as an introduction to T’Challa but also to Wakanda, Vibranium, and Klaw. Going into this work is much like the other Marvel titles which have been released through Titan books; it will be familiar to audiences of the MCU as well as readers of the comics but won’t be fully true to either. That being said, Holland’s take on ‘Black Panther’ and the related characters swing much closer to their comic book counterparts than those who graced the big screen earlier this year.
Also included in the novel are fan-favorites Shury, the Dora Milage, and T’challa and Shuri’s mother.
As in both mediums, we see the Wakanda here as a country which is cut off from the rest of the world. T’Challa is the ruler and the villain Klaw is responsible for his father’s death. Also as T’challa has often been portrayed, those that know him both love and respect him while those that don’t, especially from other countries, feel that Wakanda is a third world country which isn’t worth their time.
When you first crack open the book, be prepared to hit the ground running as an American general who feels that the country can be exploited has planned a way to bring Wakanda under his heel. As you can imagine, things don’t go well for him. The problem is though that while it starts off strong, it quickly slows down until the last third of the book. There is a large area that does move the story but didn’t capture my imagination the way the rest of the writing did. It slowed the book down and took a bit of the fun out of it.
If you’re looking for a novel that sticks close to the MCU in tone, ‘Who is the Black Panther?’ isn’t for you. If you’re a fan of the comics and looking for a prose telling of an origin story and adventure with T’Challa, it wouldn’t hurt to check this one out though I would honestly push for the graphic novels ‘Black Panther Vol. 1: Nation Under Our Feet’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates or ‘Black Panther: The Complete Collection’ by Christopher Priest over this one.