Editor's Note: Doomwar #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, February 17.
The title of this miniseries indicates that it's about Doctor Doom, but it's actually a Black Panther comic, apparently intended to be a relaunch of sorts for his (her?) series. Wakanda has been taken over by a hostile fundamentalist faction, with Doom calling the shots from behind the scenes, T'Challa and his sister (who has assumed his mantle and superheroic title) have fled the country, and Queen Storm has been captured and put on trial for treason and witchcraft. So, T'Challa recruits the X-Men for a seemingly-impossible attack on a country that has never been successfully invaded, and the Doomwar is on!
This probably reads a bit better if you've been following the regular Black Panther series, but there's enough information here to keep newcomers from being lost. And for those of us who wish to read social commentary into this sort of thing, that angle comes through in the way we see ultra-conservative forces infiltrate all aspects of Wakandan society and hypocritically wield the law (or their interpretation of it) to promote the interests of a powerful overlord. It's not the best bit of commentary (T'Challa's statement that he might have to injure or kill loyal Wakandan citizens in order to retake the throne makes for the most troubling aspect), but it's an intriguing idea, and it lends an interesting weight to scenes like the one in which Storm easily kowtows to Doom's demands for assistance because of some weak threats.
Of course, none of that symbolism is probably intentional, but unless you're a fan of the series already, it's the most enjoyment you're likely to get out of the comic, which fits into the mold of the usual Marvel comic that treats the dramatic ups and downs of its characters lives with complete seriousness. The art certainly fits that view, with its shadowy scenes of stone-faced characters facing each other and discussing matters of grave import. Only Doom seems to stand out, wielding his jeweled chalice and shouting orders at his minions. His armored face even seems to out-emote everyone else, but that's probably just Jack Kirby's character design still holding up after all these years.
So, if you're a fan of the Black Panther, this is probably monumentally important and exciting, but for everyone else, it's business as usual for a Marvel comic. By all means, try to read some sort of political message into it, because other than finding out that Wakanda is surprisingly easy to attack, that will probably be the most you'll be able to get out of it.
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