Shuri, Vol. 1: The Search for Black Panther by Nnedi Okorafor
Illustrated by Leonardo Romero
Coloring by Jordie Bellaire
Comic Book | Science Fiction | Superheroes
Published by Marvel
Released May 7th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
I wanted to like this collection so badly, but it just… wasn’t good.
When I saw that Marvel’s Shuri series was going to be written by science-fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor, I added it to my TBR immediately. I’ve read Okorafor’s Binti, and although I didn’t love that novella, I was intrigued enough by her writing to want to give some of her other work a shot.
In the Marvel comics world, Shuri was never a prominent character until quite recently. While she at one point took over the role of Black Panther from her brother and played parts in several storylines, she wasn’t ever the center of the story.
With the success of Marvel’s Black Panther film, that’s changed. Which is great! I loved the Black Panther movie and Shuri’s character was delightful. I’m always going to root for a fun, brilliant, female scientist. I wasn’t surprised to see Marvel releasing a Shuri-centric comic book series in the film’s wake.
It didn’t take long into the story to start to realize that Shuri, Vol. 1: The Search for Black Panther wasn’t going to live up to my expectations.
The very first thing I noticed was the atrocious artwork, which you can see below. The art itself was done by Leonardo Romero with the coloring being done by Jordie Bellaire. I don’t know whether to fault the artist or the colorist for this or perhaps both of them:
It’s just bad. There’s no shading or defining of the character’s faces. It’s blocky and made up mainly of primary colors. There’s no depth to it. The artwork turned me off of this collection before the story even started. Comic books are a medium that depends on the art just as much as the story, and I was surprised to see such a lack of quality in a comic book series that has the potential of attracting new fans.
As a quick side note, the covers for this series were done by a different (and better) artist named Sam Spratt. The covers of all of these issues are gorgeous.
The story takes place after T’Challa, aka Black Panther, takes off into space for an unknown mission. He’s essentially disappeared, and no one is sure how to bring him back. In the meantime, Shuri is approached by her mother and by a secret organization of African leaders and is asked to take on the role of Black Panther until her brother returns.
That’s only one part of this story. The other part is Shuri and friends trying to defeat a giant space insect who eats music and excretes black holes.
The story did absolutely nothing for me. Like the artwork, it was simplistic and one-dimensional. It also required previous knowledge of the characters, especially since Shuri is followed around by multi-dimensional beings and/or ghosts called the ancestors that sprang from a previous series. As I mentioned before, the creation of this series, at least on Marvel’s end, had to have been to attract some movie fans into the comics world, and it can be intimidating to readers when there’s so much of the backstory not explained.
Another issue I had is that there was so much nonsense going on that Shuri’s personality faded into the background. She can be a more interesting character than this series presents her as.
I’m going to give Nnedi Okorafor’s writing one more chance, mainly because I own a copy of her novel Akata Witch. However, I’m starting to think her writing just doesn’t mesh with me. Aside from that, the art in this collection is just terrible. I can’t recommend this series, but I guess if you’re a huge Shuri fan you might still want to read it. I won’t be continuing with this series.