Black Panther is just around the corner and there is an array of products launching to support the film’s impending release. But one special item that should not be ignored is the new book Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith.
The book’s title is a bit of a misnomer, as the story takes place during T’Challa’s youth, before he has gained the power and title of the Black Panther. Due to some issues in Wakanda, T’Challa’s father sends him and his “friend” M’Baku to Chicago to ensure their safety where they are sent to a regular american school.
Of course, this isn’t a story of T’Challa riding out a storm while attending history and biology. Soon after he gets situated with his undercover identity, he begins to discover a mystery that might have placed him in more danger than he would have ever faced back home.
The Young Prince does plenty of foreshadowing of iconic Black Panther stories that have yet to take place in this book’s setting, but those are just winks and nods as the book is focused on telling a new tale that would be at-home for the book’s middle grade demographic. That being said, the novel does not shy away from its international heritage making it the best of both worlds.
The book does include some extraneous material that does stray away from the main plot and is a bit of an unnecessary distraction. But when the book is focused, it tells a fun story that show’s T’Challa’s famous leadership mixed with a bit of childhood insecurity. His supporting cast of friends are a great addition that really bump up the book to the next level. At the conclusion, you hope the gang reunites as Marvel’s version of Mystery Inc. from Scooby-Doo.
In the end, the book is a true page turner. It gives a unique spin on an iconic Marvel character. For kids that may only know the character from Captain America: Civil War, The Young Prince will help them take a step back and be able to relate to a character that might normally not be on that they have much to identify with. I hope Mr. Smith has more Black Panther stories to tell.