Book review · comics & graphic novel

Shuri Volume 1: The Search for Black Panther

25 shuri vol1The world fell in love with her in Marvel’s Black Panther. Now, T’Challa’s techno-genius sister launches her own adventures — written by best-selling Afrofuturist author Nnedi Okorafor and drawn by Eisner Award-nominated artist Leonardo Romero! T’Challa has disappeared, and everyone is looking at the next in line for the throne. Wakanda expects Shuri to take on the mantle of Black Panther once more and lead their great nation — but she’s happiest in a lab, surrounded by her own inventions. She’d rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them down! So it’s time for Shuri to go rescue her brother yet again — with a little help from Storm, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, of course! But when her outer-space adventure puts the entire cultural history of her continent at risk from an energy-sapping alien threat, can Shuri and Iron Man save Africa?
Collects Shuri #1-5
(from Marvel)

Shuri: The Search for Black Panther is really great at summarising what had happened to Shuri and Wakanda in previous stories while still launching the present volume with a simple starting point: T’Challa goes to space and goes missing after two weeks.
The colourful life in Wakanda, Shuri’s technological experiments, a mysterious internet friend, the women of Wakanda… the first issue manages to introduce many elements without any rush and while keeping the plot moving steadily. Author Nnedi Okorafor handles the comics medium and Shuri’s voice very well, whith the art of Leonardo Romero and the colours of Jordie Bellaire that complement each others perfectly and give an almost old-school feel to the story. The different dark skin tones of the many characters are also remarkably well done. And special mention to the breathtaking cover arts by Sam Spratt.

In the second issue, Shuri tries to find a way to reach her brother in space with the help of Storm/Ororo and Ikoko, T’Challa’s present and ex girlfriends. The volume as a whole has a large cast of black women, each with their own motivations and time to shine, as was to be expected from Okorafor, to my great joy.

The next issue was really fun, set in space with Groot and Rocket. Shuri’s consciousness lands in Groot’s body and she’s able to communicate with him, as well as Rocket who is able to make sense of the endless “I am Shuri” coming out of Groot’s mouth. That could have made for awkward panels and dialogues, but it’s all handled very well and stays comprehensible. More than that, Shuri and Rocket bonding thanks to their love of technology was really nice.

The fourth issue deals with the consequences of the last one. I also love how the events of this issue continue with the ideas that Wakanda needed to open up to the world and to Africa most of all. My only disappointment in here was that the team-fight was too short, I had been looking forward to Shuri and Storm fighting alongside each other.

Finally, the last issue brings in Iron Man/Tony Stark to help deal with a black hole problem in Mali, and Shuri’s internet friend also helps with some hacking. Asking for help and having allies is a main theme of the series and I liked how Shuri and Tony were shown to be equal and not just him rushing in to save the day. To be honest I’m always a bit sad that most smaller marvel comics series must have so many bigger guests to make people interested, but I also enjoy seeing them interact with each other, so, just an observation.

This volume was both beautiful and engaging with great characters and big stakes. I’ll definitely read the next parts of it, especially since it will feature Kamala as Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales’ Spider-Man!

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