Between their comics and their movies, Marvel has created a very long list of fantastic characters that are now beloved by legions of fans. One of those characters, who has not necessarily gotten as much attention as many others, is the little sister of the Black Panther and the Princess of Wakanda – Shuri.
That changed this week though with the release of Marvel’s new Black Panther novel, simply titled Shuri, from New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone.
Shuri is the young, but brilliant, teenaged Princess of Wakanda and thus has a lot of responsibilities thrust upon her – responsibilities she, for the most part, does not want anything to do with. In fact, she feel unappreciated and doesn’t understand the traditions of her nation. In other words, she’s a teenager.
But when she is faced with an array of unique challenges, which she happens to know her uniquely brilliant mind make her the best equipped to handle, she doesn’t hesitate to snap into action, despite the overly cautious overwatch of her mother. With a new threat amassing at the borders of Wakanda, something killing the all-important Heart-Shaped Herb and her brother asking for a new Black Panther suit just days before his ritualistic Challenge Day, Shuri has a lot on her plate and even more on her mind.
Stone has concocted a brilliant new Marvel story that plays out well to both Marvel fans and the young adults at which this new novel is targeted. Shuri is a loveable and relatable character, dealing with all the real-world problems of being a teenager as well as the pressures of being a Princess and brilliant scientific mind.
Stone masters the art of allowing the reader into that brilliant and often over-crowded mind of Shuri’s. In some instances, it feels as though the writing is all over the place, with a completely new thought following the previous unrelated one over and over again. While at first glance, this may seem a bit sloppy, it’s actually a creative way of putting the reader inside the head of young and sometimes scatterbrained genius.
The story itself is simple and straightforward. It doesn’t allow itself to get bogged down and overly complicated, as many comic-based stories tend to do. It’s more about the characters and less about the extremely complex Marvel Universe which has been cultivated over the past 80 plus years. It moves quickly from point to point and even scatters some other fan-favorite Marvel characters throughout, which is sure to please those comic fans.
Fair warning, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the character may be a bit disappointed. This is a younger, less accomplished (at least in the early going of the novel) Shuri who has yet to become the confident and witty scientist who graced the big screen in the Black Panther film. It’s set more in the Marvel Comics Universe than the Cinematic one.
There are a couple of aspects of the novel that could see a bit of improvement. The ending leaves a little to be desired for example, and there are a few cringe-worthy mentions of “PantherTube,” which we can only assume is Wakanda’s version of YouTube.
Overall though, Shuri is a triumphant story of a lovable teenager who is able to reach her full potential, despite being overlooked and undervalued by those around her. It’s a fun Marvel story that puts readers in the universe they know and love, without reaching out too far and stretching itself too thin. Most importantly though, it puts the spotlight on a character who certainly deserves more of it.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”