Killmonger #1

 Bryan Hill
Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Juan Ferreyra

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Review by Nico Sprezzatura

Marvel’s Black Panther line has been in something of a blooming state for the past several years, with many titles involving (or adjacent to) T’Challa himself popping up throughout their slate of comics. This week’s Killmonger #1 is the latest such example. But even considering Michael B. Jordan’s breakout (and Oscar-buzzed) turn as the character in this year’s Black Panther, can Erik “Killmonger” Stevens headline his own series?

Killmonger is (wisely) told in the past as a prequel, of sorts, leading to his ultimate destiny as T’Challa’s nemesis, allowing writer Bryan Hill to focus on his protagonist outside of the latter’s shadow. The Killmonger seen here isn’t quite the cunning brute portrayed by Jordan, but rather, a greener shade of grey. Erik is angry and ambitious, but he’s got a ways to go towards becoming the Killmonger.

There’s also the interesting challenge of marrying his traditional characterization with Jordan’s newer, more well-known portrayal of the character in Black Panther. Not unlike Nnedi Okorafor and Leonardo Romero’s Shuri, Hill is tasked with making his version of Killmonger somewhere in the middle of those extremes. I’d say he proves successful in that regard, but the credit shouldn’t go solely to him.

Artist Juan Ferreyra (recently of DC’s Green Arrow: Rebirth) is a major asset to this book. What’s most notable about this version of Killmonger is that he appears (more or less) as he does in Black Panther, suggesting he eventually becomes the bare-chested, long-dreaded, skull-wearing figure of his more contemporary comic appearances.

While Ferreyra’s run with the Emerald Archer is likely what he’s best known for, the violent delights of Killmonger share more in common with his work on the Dark Horse horror title Colder. Because our titular protagonist is a ruthless, trained killer, the book is filled with reds and blacks — both prominently highlighted in the recap page — but Ferreyra’s painterly touch makes sure to utilize all the tones of the rainbow throughout. His art is just nice to look at, and endlessly pleasing to the eye, which makes the rougher bits of the story almost pleasant to get through.

The Verdict: Buy it.

Despite an uphill challenge in marrying various versions of him into one, Killmonger #1 is an intriguing glimpse into the past of the fallen son of Wakanda.

Nico Sprezzatura
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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