Ta-Nehisi Coates has shifted locations for his newest Marvel series from the fictional African country of Wakanda to New York’s Harlem. The story deals with relevant and timely issues that hit hard, while Coates does what he always excels at: world building.
This issue centers around Misty Knight, a detective and hero, as she works to uncover the mystery behind the suspicious death of Ezra Keith. The series features both blatant and subtle references to problems in America today, including police brutality and gentrification.
The narration, done by Misty Knight, is spot-on. It offers the reader a glimpse into her thought process while providing rich language.
The artist, Butch Guice, is perfect for this issue. He brings a simple design that allows the colors to flourish. With the simple design, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. But even the sum of its parts are fantastic. The art contains lines upon lines that give an unfinished look that may not look as professional, but gives a dynamic feel, as if everything is in constant motion.
The actual story in the book is very good. Coates tells a story that doesn’t seem unrealistic. Besides the superpowers and flying robot cops, everything in the story has happened, still happens, and can happen. Police brutality is a very real threat to the black community and this book brings the topic to the forefront. Police brutality has been brought up before in other comics, such as Batman and Cyborg, but Coates takes it to another level as the entire arc is devoted to the mystery of Ezra Keith’s death and its effects on his community. It’s great to see Coates write other characters too. In his other two series, Black Panther and Black Panther: World of Wakanda, Coates doesn’t have much of an opportunity to write American heroes as the story takes place in Africa. But his writing of Misty Knight sits very well. And although we don’t see much of Storm in this issue, she sure seems powerful and interesting. Reading a book without the king of Wakanda can be refreshing, as it allows Coates to spend more time developing other characters in his story and he definitely accomplishes it.
Black Panther and the Crew #1 is a great read. It has great narration, dialogue, and story. And its art is almost flawless in its action but when it’s time to sit down for static discussions, the art can feel too chaotic when the scene is calm.