A decent backstory
I found Erik Killmonger to be the most interesting character in the MCU’s Black Panther. He wasn’t just a bad guy out to destroy the world. He wanted to reclaim his birthright and use his newfound power to open Wakanda to the rest of the world. There was purpose to his character and he made sense. It was his means that made him the villain. So I was very excited to finally read about his backstory in Marvel’s 5-issue mini-series Killmonger.
As a boy, he was known as N’Jadaka. He was taken from his home and treated with cruelty by Ulysses Klaue. Now, as an adult, Erik is determined to get his revenge and return to Wakanda. He relies on guidance from the ancestral Wakandan spiritual plane to get him home..
The MCU’s Black Panther gave Killmonger a more ‘real world’ backstory. In this comic, he gets a darker and more sordid history. Although it definitely builds on the foundation of the movie, it diverges in just the right ways. Comic book Killmonger certainly looks like the MCU version, but his journey is very different.
What I liked
Juan Ferreyra does an expert job of visual storytelling with his artwork. His paneling and perspectives are especially noteworthy. The visuals in Killmonger do a lot of the heavy lifting in telling the story. I found I was able to watch the panels and generally know what was happening without reading. It’s a skill I haven’t seen applied enough in the comics I’ve read.
Bryan Hill also does a decent job with the writing. I find this version of Killmonger’s history preferable to that of the movie. We get to see the inner workings of the character’s mind and understand his motives more clearly. The relationships he builds in the story are careful and strategic. They are almost all built on foundations of deception, manipulation and fear. It’s really solid character development.
What I didn’t like
The ending of this comic is completely unsatisfactory. It ties directly to the events of Rise of the Black Panther (which I have yet to read) and it forces readers to pick up another title in order to get the full story. But Killmonger is supposed to be a limited or mini-series…not an ongoing series. Bryan Hill ultimately abandons his readers with the use of an asterisk toward the end of the last issue.
Killmonger is a good comic with some great artwork. It’s definitely entertaining and has really good character development. I would definitely recommend this read…but with a warning: it’s not the self-contained story that might be expected with a mini-series. Prepare yourself to continue the story in at least one other title.
I now plan on reading that other title (Rise of the Black Panther). Here’s hoping there aren’t any more sneaky asterisks waiting for me.