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Book Review: Tales of Wakanda Anthology

With 18 stories, a huge adventure surrounding the country of Wakanda begins. Read on for a full book review of Black Panther:Tales of Wakanda edited by Jesse J. Holland!

Tales of Wakanda review
Photo from Titan Books

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A ground-breaking anthology celebrating Marvel’s beloved Black Panther and his home of Wakanda, penned by an all-star cast of authors such as Sheree Renée Thomas and Nikki Giovanni. 

T’Challa faces the gods of his parents. Vampires stalk Shuri and a Dora Milaje in voodoo-laced New Orleans. Erik Killmonger grapples with racism, Russian spies, and his own origins. Eighteen brand-new tales of Wakanda, its people, and its legacy. 

The first mainstream superhero of African descent, the Black Panther has attracted readers of all races and colors who see in the King of Wakanda reflections of themselves. Storytellers from across the African Diaspora—some already literary legends, others who are rising stars—have created for this collection original works inspired by the world of the Panther and its inhabitants. With guest stars including Storm, Monica Rambeau, Namor, and Jericho Drumm, these are stories of yesterday and today, of science and magic, of faith and love.  

These are the tales of a king and his country. These are the legends whispered in the jungle, myths of the unconquered men and women and the land they love. These are the Tales of Wakanda.

Featuring stories by Linda D. Addison, Maurice Broaddus, Christopher Chambers, Milton J. Davis, Tananarive Due, Nikki Giovanni, Harlan James, Danian Jerry, Kyoko M., L.L. McKinney, Temi Oh, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Glenn Parris, Alex Simmons, Sheree Renée Thomas, Cadwell Turnbull and Troy L. Wiggins. 

Tales of Wakanda Review

With the popularity of Black Panther by Disney, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that fans want more stories. Enter Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda, an anthology of 18 different stories, all based around Black Panther characters. Edited and compiled by Jesse J. Holland, Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda offers lots of different viewpoints from Wakandan characters, some well known and others that exist in the comic books and not the movie. Dedicated to Chadwick Boseman, Tales of Wakanda gives major insight into the people and environment that makes Wakanda so special in the Marvel universe.

In “Killmonger Rising” written by Caldwell Turnbull, the author gives the reader some insight into one of the MOST compelling villains in the Marvel universe. Posing as a professor, Eric Killmonger struggles with his need for revenge and power. His alter ego would rather hook up with beautiful college students, but ultimately Killmonger realizes that getting close to anyone would only hamper his ultimate mission: getting his hands on Vibranium and control over Wakanda.

Two stories follow Princess Shuri, and I really enjoyed both. My favorite story was “Bon Temps” by Harlan James. Shuri finds herself in New Orleans, battling vampires with Dr. Voodoo and MONICA RAMBEAU!! This story has a little bit of everything including lush descriptions of New Orleans, Shuri’s annoyance with T’Challa, romance and a tightly woven fight scene with two recognizable Marvel superheroes. Christopher Chambers entry “I, Shuri” is another fun adventure with Shuri traveling to Chesapeake Bay and outsmarting a group of Atlanteans who take her prisoner.

In “Heart of a Panther” written by Shree Renee Thomas, T’Challa travels to Mississippi to investigate what he thinks is a mini Wakanda nestled in the deep South. Vibranium was seeded into the soil which created mutates animals and plants. A mystical shield protects the area from the ku Kluc Klan and forces T’Challa to face the ultimate question. How many communities could have been protected if Wakanda had allowed Vibranium and Wakandan technology out into the world?

Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda really is a riveting collection of stories in the spirit of Marvel adventures. Not only for die hard Black Panther fans, even ones new to the Black Panther universe will enjoy stories of Black excellence and adventure.

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JESSE HOLLAND

Hi Mr. Holland and thank you for chatting with me! Can you tell me how you got involved with the Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda project?

Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda was actually my idea, and I’m so appreciative that Disney and Titan Books made my dream into a reality!

Back in 2017, before the Black Panther movie came out, I was tasked by Marvel to write the first Black Panther novel, Black Panther: Who Is the Black Panther?, which was a retelling of T’Challa’s origin story based on the wonderful comic book series written by Reginald Hudlin. The book did really well, including garnering an NAACP Image Award nomination. So when I finished and the Black Panther movie exploded, I started brainstorming my next act, and that was when I remembered The Further Adventures of Batman

Back when the first modern Batman movie came out, it was groundbreaking. Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson redefined what superhero movies could be, moving it away from the campy Biff! Pow! Bat-shark repellent Batman shows helmed by Adam West. When that movie came out, DC also came out with an anthology called The Further Adventures of Batman. It was a collection of short stories written by different authors about Batman and Robin, including a short story by Isaac Asimov. I can’t tell you how much I LOVED that book (A tattered and dog-eared copy still sits in my bookshelf in my bedroom to this day.) 

If a genre-defining movie like Batman deserved an anthology written by some of the best science fiction writers out there, then a movie like Black Panther, which shattered so many glass ceilings in the entertainment industry, deserved an anthology written by some of the best Afrocentric science fiction and fantasy writers out there. And I wanted to write one of those stories as well! And Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda was born!

This anthology gives readers an in-depth look into the psyches of some of Black Panther’s most popular characters.  Was it hard to narrow down who would make an appearance in the book?

I knew I wanted stories of more than just T’Challa in the book. I actually came up with a list of stories I wanted told about the world of Wakanda, things that I wanted to see writers tackle, if they needed a prompt from me. The great thing about the Black Panther and Wakanda is the strong cast of characters, from Ramonda to W’Kabi to Killmonger to Shuri to Bast herself. It’s the world around T’Challa, the people who make up his life, that make telling the stories about Wakanda and the Black Panther worth it, and they usually don’t get enough exploration in the comic books or in the movies. But they also exist in a larger Marvel universe and their interactions with those other characters make us happy as comic book fans and make their world feel complete. 

Now most of the writers came with their own strong ideas of the characters they wanted to use. Nikki Giovanni came with her own T’Challa story that she wanted to write, Tananarive Due knew she wanted to write a T’Challa/Storm story dealing with their relationship, and Christopher Chambers knew from the beginning that he wanted to write a Shuri story. And I knew I wanted to write a T’Challa story (I’ve wanted to write Black Panther short stories for a while, but this project was too good to pass up.) 

I wanted to be sure that we covered the world of Wakanda, and not just the characters people knew from the movie and the comic books. 

But to be sure, I didn’t want to ignore T’Challa. That’s why I wrote about T’Challa, in a bit of a continuation from my first novel with my story “Faith.” But after I had stories about the core characters in T’Challa’s world _ T’Challa, Shuri, Okoye and Killmonger _ I told writers to write about whatever character struck their fancy and to tell the best story they can, and that’s why we have such great stories with Namor, N’Yami, Doctor Voodoo, Monica Rambeau, Bashenga and other great characters from the Panther’s world.

I felt like Tales of Wakanda had something for new Black Panther fans and those who knew about Black Panther pre-movie. What do you hope readers will get out of Tales of Wakanda?

If all you know about the Panther is from Ryan Coogler’s great movie, then you have a great treat in front of you with Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda! The movie gave you a primer of the world of Wakanda but there’s so much more to learn, so many other characters to follow that they didn’t have time to develop for the movie. The same goes for the fans of the comic book and the great work that Ta-Nehisi Coates and the other Black Panther writers have been doing over the years. There’s only so much room in movies and comic books for these characters, whether you’re talking about T’Challa or Okoye or Shuri. It’s in literature – the written word — that we can really explore these characters, their thoughts, their feelings, their hopes and their dreams. And that’s what I hope people take from Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda, a greater understanding of what makes these characters tick, what these characters dream of and want to achieve in their lives and what makes them so awesome for us to cheer for, to watch and follow through comic books, movies and books!

OTHER BLACK PANTHER ARTICLES

Book Review: The Vanished (Shuri #2)

Black Panther Fan Gift Guide for All Ages!

King Chad Art Installation at Disneyland Honoring Chadwick Boseman!

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