Written by Nnedi Okorafor
Art by Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire
Edited by Sarah Brunstad and Wil Moss
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: October 17, 2018
Shuri, the younger sister of T’Challa (Black Panther), finally has a series of her own. A broad fanbase fell in love with the character based on her portrayed in the recent Black Panther film, and now there’s a chance to follow her story from her own perspective in the comics. A scientific genius, Shuri has designed a space shuttle for Wakanda’s first human space mission. Shuri knows that she’ll be worried about T’Challa and Eden Fesi (Manifold) until they return from deep space, and when they mysteriously fail to return from the mission, she has to figure out what to do.
Shuri #1 is an excellent example of what a first issue can be: a book that a new fan can pick up at the comic shop or online and enjoy. We get a setup of the main characters, setting, and plot with a backstory effectively conveyed throughout the issue. We get to know Shuri’s love of science, bravery, and feelings about being a Princess and how she’s been treated. It’s clear that her position in society and relative to her older brother has greatly affected her, as has being the Ancient Future to the Ancestors who speak to her. She’s a character who is simultaneously fun and adventurous while having responsibility on her shoulders. I think fans who know Shuri primarily from the film will enjoy this issue and that fans who don’t already know Shuri will come to be interested in her story by the end of the issue. Despite being behind in reading the recent Black Panther series, I still feel like I am reading a series that has given enough information and context about these characters and world that I can follow the plot and themes. There’s always a balance to strike in a first issue, between giving enough information to get readers interested while not giving away so much information that it ruins the suspense. I think Shuri #1 finds that balance, as it feels like an issue that is filled with information while still very clearly being only the very beginning of a longer journey.
The writing by Nnedi Okorafor immediately made me hear Shuri’s voice. Her personality and feelings come through whether she’s joking around or being contemplative or flying through the Wakandan sky with her new invention of nanotech wings. The dynamic between the characters comes through as well, as their interactions let us know about their history together and their relationships with each other. The artwork by Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire is incredibly effective in both small personal panels and broader scenes. We get to see a lot of Wakanda, from the market in the city to the plains to the space program mission control. The panels convey information to the reader about Wakandan society and make the world feel lived in. One of the passages in this issue that stayed in my mind was the page of Wakandans watching the space mission launch. The images of people being excited about a fascinating scientific achievement in a society that is known for being the most scientifically and technologically advanced country on the planet gives a hopeful feeling that feels especially potent right now. I tend to be a fan of including civilian scenes in superhero comics, as it shows the people and society whose safety is the goal of the heroes, and in this case such passages felt like an important part of the story.
There are several plotlines that I’m interested in following, including the mystery of the space mission and its effects on Shuri as well as some relationships between the characters. Some surprise reveals seem to be in the works, and it’s implied that the results may not be what readers would expect. The motivations and emotions of the characters in the story come across especially well, and I feel invested in knowing more about them. There are some characters introduced at the end of the issue who I especially hope we see more of as the story continues. The issue introduces a combination of themes, including the character who wants to live her life a certain way while still being loyal and helpful to her family and country; the Princess who has felt secondary to the older brother who became the leader; the scientific genius sidekick character who is usually helping the hero more than others see; the character with a connection to spirits who has received knowledge and powers that many others have not experienced. There’s a feeling of the familiar there, and also a feeling of the unknown as we get to know a character with her own series for the first time. I really hope that this series continues, because there’s so much potential for further development here, in ways that promise to be enjoyable and center a fascinating character.
The Verict: 9.5/10