Best Shots Reviews: BLACK PANTHER #167, LOUD HOUSE VOL. 2 - THERE WILL BE MORE CHAOS

The Loud House, Vol. 2: There Will Be More Chaos
Credit: Papercutz
Credit: Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel Comics)

Black Panther #167
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art by Leonard Kirk, Marc Deering, Laura Martin & Matt Milla
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Robert Reed
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

T’Challa learns a secret about Wakanda’s past that alters the way he must approach the Originators in Black Panther #167. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ exploration of godhood had previously been limited in scope to how it affected individuals like Storm and Klaw. But now, in revealing Wakanda’s prehistory, Coates examines what gods mean for a nation that has been ruled by a divine avatar.

The issue opens with Shuri warning Thunderball that while his assistance is requested by T’Challa, any illegal action will result in his execution. The main portion of the issue sees T’Challa journey with Shuri to the mythical realm known as the Djalia and meet with the spiritual guide Mother. From her, T’Challa learns the truth of Wakanda’s origin – it was a nation built by immigrants who forced out the original inhabitants. Leonard Kirk’s artwork almost immediately calls to mind depictions of European immigrants meeting Native Americans, a parallel that paints the eventual Wakandans in a bad light.

While that allegory is certainly intentional (kudos to Marvel for getting this issue out the week of Thanksgiving), Coates’ writing also suggests a wider lens than just that specific interaction and draws a bleak image of man. Mother, upon seeing T’Challa’s shock, asks him, “Did you truly believe that a great nation could be built without another underfoot?” It isn’t just a great callback to the title of the series’ previous arc, but it poses the question to the reader as well. Whether it be the United States, the Roman Empire, Great Britain, the Bantu expansion that decimated the population of the Khoisan, or even going into man’s prehistory and the extinction of Homo neanderthalensis and Homo erectus, man has a long resume of slaughter in the name of progress.

Wakanda, though never a utopia, has always been presented within the volumes of Black Panther as the paragon of human achievement, not just technologically but spiritually, so this development will likely ruffle the feathers of many a longtime fan. It would be tempting to say that Coates was dismantling the mythos, but here, the text reads more as a blistering indictment on mankind. Mother advises T’Challa, “Your burden is to act, my king, knowing that to be human is to be ignoble and fallen.” Wakanda may be the most technologically and spiritually advanced nation on Earth, but it is still a nation of men.

The other change is one that readers may have seen coming, which is the reveal that the Wakandan gods, Bast included, were heroes elevated into godhood by the faith of their followers. It will be interesting to see how Coates further develops this angle - T’Challa has seen Bast many times before, and has Thor to count amongst his other teammates. It’s a bit unclear whether Coates is meaning this to say that the faith of followers can grant some divine power onto beings, or if something else is afoot. The story is being recounted entirely by Mother, and though she has been reliable in the past, it may be that she has an ulterior motive.

Despite being an issue that on the surface might seem like a history lesson, Black Panther #167 is a barnburner of an issue thanks to the artwork by Leonard Kirk and Laura Martin. Kirk takes the spiritual nature of the Djalia and runs with it - the conversation between Mother and T’Challa takes place atop the backs of winged panthers. When the Originators appear, Kirk gives them a gentle quality that was not shown in previous issues. And when the Gods of the Wakandans arrive to save their people, Kirk gives the designs by Brian Stelfreeze a truly intimidating spin.

Laura Martin’s colors really help tell the story in this issue. The opening of the issue centers around T’Challa recruiting Thunderball to investigate the physics of the energy signatures that Klaw is after. These scenes are mostly interiors, and Martin gives them a green tint that suggests a sci-fi spin. When the issue transitions to the Djalia, Martin’s color palette explodes with warm oranges, lush greens, and surreal blues and purples. That sudden change in the dynamics of the palette gives a boost to the rest of the issue.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ take on Wakanda in Black Panther #167 will undoubtedly prove divisive; his pursuit of political realism muddies the beautiful image that longtime fans have come to love. In doing so, Coates, along with artists Leonard Kirk and Laura Martin, have not only created perhaps the best executed issue in the series, but have now positioned the titular hero such that he must make a choice about the fate of his kingdom and people. Will he act as a hero or as a king?

Credit: Papercutz

The Loud House, Vol. 2: There Will Be More Chaos
Written by Sammie Crowley, Whitney Wetta, Kevin Sullivan, Jordan Koch, Jared Morgan and Miguel Puga
Art by Erin Hyde, Ari Castleton, Jordan Koch, Diem Doan, Jared Morgan, Ida Hem, Adam Reed, Agny Innocente, Amanda Rynda, Miguel Puga
Lettering by Erin Hyde, Ari Castleton, Diem Doan, Jordan Koch, Jared Morgan, Ida Hem, Adam Reed, Agny Innocente and Miguel Puga
Published by Papercutz
Review by Kat Calamia
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

The Loud House’s comic book aesthetic is brought to life in the series’ second volume, There Will Be More Chaos , which showcases more fun family antics and even some adventures following the show’s side characters. The sequel series doesn’t particularly add much to the franchise, but is still a fun read for hardcore fans of the Nickelodeon show.

This volume of The Loud House focuses more on the characters as a family unit, as the comic strips play with their dynamic with one other instead of just focusing on main character Lincoln Loud. The interaction between the siblings and their differing personalities is one of the most interesting aspects of the show, and is nicely displayed with these strips as the main theme of the graphic novel.

But what makes this volume stand out from the previous installment is the great focus on the TV show’s supporting characters, especially Lori’s boyfriend Bobby and Lincoln’s best friend Clyde. In the strip “Date Night,” Lori does everything in her power to escape her siblings from joining her perfect date night with Bobby, but at the end of the story the siblings find a way to join the couple at the drive-in movie theater. It’s nice to see scenes with Bobby not only interacting with Lori, but the whole family.

There are a few strips that showcase Clyde, but my favorites are “Clyde’s Cat-Astrophie” and “Tired Out,” where Clyde and his two dads become main characters. The graphic novel gives the opportunity to not only look at the large family of the Louds, but the three-person family dynamic of the McBrides. Stories like this help expand the world of The Loud House and demonstrates how the franchise continues to masterfully juggle its large cast.

One of my few complaints from the first volume of The Loud was the inconsistent art style scattered across the series’ multiple comic strips. I’m glad this is something the series improves on with its second volume. This graphic novel has several artists working on the strips, but thankfully all of the pencilers stay consistent with the television show’s look and with each other’s art styles.

In the first volume of The Loud House the story had better character moments, but the second volume delivers a cleaner narrative. The Loud House: There Will Be More Chaos is slightly forgettable, but is a fun read for fans of the Nickelodeon show who want to experience the series’ story in the medium that inspired the TV series’ comic book aesthetic.

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