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Black Panther

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
by yo go re

Prepare yourselves for the least spoilery spoiler to ever spoil.

For all the other Black Panther 2 Marvel Legends, we've been getting the character bios (aka, the italicized text at the start of every review) from hasbro's marketing copy, since they don't bother to print it on the packaging like they should. Unfortunately, there is literally zero biographical text associated with this character. But it can't be like they were trying to keep her a secret.

As soon as the news broke about Chadwick Boseman's death, every comic reader began speculating the same thing: that T'Challa's sister Shuri would take up the mantle, just like she did in the comics, a guess that gained steam when Marvel Studios announced they weren't going to recast him. There were some other guesses (Killmonger would come back, M'Baku would step up, etc.), but they were half-hearted at best. Then one of the first trailers gave us a glimpse of a clearly female person wearing the suit, and everybody knew what was up. So while we politely applaud the effort to keep a secret for as long as possible, if you're going to release a standalone Shuripanther like a week after the rest of the ML, you could at least write something about her.

This new Black Panther suit takes influences from all the previous ones - her father's, her brother's, even her cousin's. The idea is that, much like Iron Man's armor, each incarnation builds on what went before, rather than just trying to port the existing design onto a new shape. While it's still a skin-tight black suit, this one has gold and silver lins accentuating the anatomy... on the front at least, because painting the back of your toys is so 2000-and-late. The details are sculpted, so you could paint them yourself, but you shouldn't have to. Not for what we have to pay for these nowadays.

The particular design of all those extra lines went through a lot of revisions, both on the body and the mask. She ends up with bits that look like fangs around her mouth, and dots on her forehead that are similar to what she had painted on her face when she was ready for war. So even through the mask, it's apparent this is a different sort of Panther than before.

Because Hasbro thought they needed to keep a secret, this figure doesn't include an alternate unmasked head - which, if you know anything about the way toymaking works these days, means we can expect a two-pack to show up at some point in the future. All we do get are alternate hands; no, not with her little panther-blasters over her hands, just fists or claws. Since she's not part of the normal line, she doesn't get a BAF piece.

At least the articulation is all there. Being Black Panther comes with enhanced strength, speed, and dexterity, so not being able to move as well as a normal figure would be bad. She's got a barbell-jointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a balljointed chest, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. If they really wanted to they could have sneaked some shin swivels or toe hinges on there, but this is already pretty good. Letitia Wright is 5'5", but this toy is an even 6", demonstrating Hasbro's cavalier attitude toward its toys' scale.

Making Shuri the new Black Panther was not a surprise to anyone, but the way the ads were hiding the reveal, it is surprising Hasbro was able to make an action figure of her already. Usually we'd have to wait a few months for that, but here she is, showing up at the same time as all the others.

-- 12/19/22

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