In the final issue of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther, King T’Challa has just become Emperor, a role he never intended to have in the Marvel Universe.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Black Panther #25
The final issue of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther is here, seeing King T’Challa becoming an emperor of galactic proportions. Since 2018, Black Panther has been at war with the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, which became corrupted away from the ideals of the original Wakanda over several years. While its Emperor N’Jadaka wanted to conquer and claim Wakanda Prime, Black Panther mustered a massive defensive force, inducting several of his superhero allies into the tribe of Wakanda. However, the battle’s end has come with some dynamic consequences that T’Challa will now have to deal with moving forward into a brand new era.
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Despite his best intentions, the origins of the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda can be traced back to T’Challa himself. At the series’ beginning from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Daniel Acuña, Black Panther sends a group of willing Wakandans through a time-distorted wormhole. Having been sent back into the past, they create a second Wakanda among the stars, albeit one that soon abandons the ideals to Wakanda in favor of creating an aggressive empire spanning over five star systems and built on the backs of conquered slaves. When T’Challa discovers the empire’s existence he is soon captured and robbed of his memories, becoming one of the empire’s slaves known as the Nameless. However, he is later restored by the resistance force known as the Maroons, and he soon returns to Wakanda Prime with N’Jadaka in pursuit, desiring to conquer T’Challa’s kingdom as the crown jewel of the intergalactic empire.
Now, Black Panther #25 by Coates, Daniel Acuña, Brian Stelfreeze, Laura Martin and Joe Sabino, sees both T’Challa and N’Jadaka’s forces clashing in a massive battle, though it ultimately ends with the symbiote-bonded ruler being slain by the Black Panther. In the aftermath, the Goddess Bast confirms that the surviving empire is now T’Challa’s to lead and reshape, as it was the Black Panther who is unwittingly responsible for its creation in the first place. However, this is by no means a role that T’Challa wants, and he confirms as much to his love Storm.
Clearly, Coates has decided to end his groundbreaking time on Black Panther on an immensely epic and wild note. Much of his work has defined T’Challa’s unique struggle of identity, as the Black Panther has long been torn between his multiple roles as hero and king, as well as the man behind them both. Now, the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda storyline has added much more complexity. When Black Panther himself wonders and reflects on how his own story will be told, Storm responds by saying that it will be “The one about the king who wanted to be a hero, and the hero who was taken as a slave, and the slave who advanced into legend.”
Whether he likes it or not, the Black Panther is now the leader of an empire than spans galaxies, and it’s going to be up to him to reshape it into a shining beacon of hope and light in the cosmos. While he may not have wanted it, becoming the new Emperor of a Galactic Wakanda certainly seems to fit T’Challa, and it’s going to be incredibly exciting to see where the Black Panther goes from here as a new era soon begins.
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