When you build something up like this, 10 issues, 10 months, to tell one story, it really needs to deliver and make it feel worth the wait. Especially in a series that has been so slow moving with 3-5 story lines happening at the same time. You can make mistakes with shorter arcs or one-offs but when fans are spending nearly a year waiting for this confrontation... that builds a lot of anticipation. Even if I should have known better based on the previous nine issues... I still had hope.
Unfortunately, while the issue wasn't bad in isolation... it fell flat.
And once again, it came down to the same culprits that have plagued this entire run. The action scenes were only slightly improved from previous issues but were still flat, stiff, and unimaginative. At one point. Akili walks RIGHT UP TO TETU, gun in hand, and... hits his legs with the butt of the gun to trip him.
There was no sense of scale with this invasion. The People seem to consist of 25 soldiers while the Wakanda army consisted of 12 with additional support from six Dogs of War. There were no tanks nor jets as teased at the end of issue #10. This is a massive failure in the art. Why are we to believe Wakanda could be taken by 25 mindless goons with AK-47's? The same country that beat back the Black Order, the same country that destroyed Atlantis... is bothered by this pathetic number of people? If Wakanda is truly this weak, then every villain in the Marvel Universe ought to be salivating right now.
Art issue aside, the climatic fight between Tetu and T'challa was ridiculously brief. As in, one panel fight brief. There were no great philosophical discussions, no battle of powers between the mage and the warrior. Just one, well placed, force ghost spear to the chest and Tetu was done.
I am being incredibly negative and it is hard not to be. But the issue was borderline good, but it just needed to be undeniably great. Coates world building came full circle, as Shuri, Akili, Hodari, Changamire, Eden, and Kwabena all played their roles in the climatic battle. Akili was a pleasant surprise and it was a nice touch to see Kwabena's story go full circle. In fact, that whole fan service page worked for the fanboy in me.
However, the book is called Black Panther and Black Panther alone. Not World of Wakanda. Not The Crew. Black Panther. And, well, he did what he did for ten other issues. In the book but not really the main focus (in this case, the book really had not main focus as it was spread rather evenly). However, his plan and his powers were what saved the day: not Shuri or the Midnight Angels. His King of the Dead powers returned in a way that made much more since than commanding zombie fodder. And while I have huge misgivings that one of T'challa most talked about moments (The Cry) was essentially hand-waved off panel, it was nice to see T'challa and T'chaka reconcile once again.
And well.. he won. Outright won. No speeches necessary. No dead relatives to mourn. I would have preferred a much more emphatic, physically dominating performance but at least it was a true win. Tetu is captured, The People were stopped, Zenzi is out there so she can come back in three years...
Now we just see what Coates has in store for the Wakandan government. And while I was hopefully excited for issue #11, I am dreading #12.