Marvel’s stand-alone Shuri series is a true gift for fans of Wakanda’s whip-smart princess and the blending of comic-book mythos. The first issue left Shuri struggling to move out of her brother’s shadow, after the Black Panther (and the mutant teleporter Manifold) vanished during a space mission gone wrong. Bent on finding her brother, and still wrestling with feeling constantly insignificant when compared to him, the series Shuri #1 gave the princess an internal struggle.
This week’s Shuri #2, written by Nnedi Okorafor, with art by Leonardo Romero, picks up right where the previous installment left off, with Queen Ramonda and her secret council of women asking Shuri to take up the mantle of Black Panther. While it would make sense for the capable Shuri to become the Black Panther in her brother’s place once again, and while the previous issue certainly hinted at it, she declines. She doesn’t want to constantly walk in his shadow; the Black Panther is T’Challa. She does not want that.
Not everyone is happy with this decision, especially not Shuri’s mother. But Shuri wants to focus on finding T’Challa rather than replacing him.
She seeks out Storm of the X-Men, who has come to Wakanda after Ramonda informed her about T’Challa’s disappearance. Ororo is convinced that finding T’Challa will require spiritual guidance. The spirits of Wakandan ancestors that live within Shuri agree, but Shuri is not one to believe in the power of true love. If there’s anything that’s going to help them find T’Challa (and Manifold), it’s going to be science.
Still, Storm wishes to seek out Chief Ikoko, a spiritual scientist who lives in one of the Mute Zones — and happens to be T’Challa’s ex-girlfriend. Shuri isn’t sold, till she receives the message that her mother has also gone missing.
So it’s off to the Mute Zones Storm and Shuri go, with some banter about their respective romantic interests (T’Challa and Manifold), before they encounter Ikoko.
Ikoko is doubtful about Shuri’s use of technology to locate T’Challa; like Storm and the Wakadian ancestors, she believes the answer lies in something spiritual. She believes she can help the search for T’Challa by sending Shuri’s soul across space to find him.
This discussion of technology and innovation versus spirituality and tradition happens throughout Shuri #2. Shuri argues for the former, but because she’s constantly followed around by the ancient ancestors of Wakanda, she clashes with those who argue for the latter. Her very being is a juxtaposition of these values, and in fact, living up to the name the ancestors have given her: “Ancient Future.”
In the end, Shuri listens to Ikoko and agrees to complete the ritual, even though she still believes that with enough time, technology could locate her brother.
Ikoko has Shuri lead them to a place where she feels strongly connected to T’Challa — a baobab tree dubbed Grootbomb the Second (remember that) — and sends Storm to charge the air. Mansa, a high school student who was a part of the women’s council, is also there, by coincidence — or fate. She watches on, secretly.
Right in the middle of the ritual, Shuri gets a message from Okoye regarding her mother’s disappearance. She can’t receive it, though, and the ancestors tell her it is time — for both her and Mansa.
Shuri’s soul hurtles through space and the ritual seemingly works, guiding her to T’Challa and Manifold’s ship, until Shuri realizes she can’t stop or slow down. She’s pulled away from the ship and her soul plops right down somewhere else ...
And that somewhere is a someone, and it’s none other than Groot.
Whether Shuri and Groot are now sharing the same consciousness, or if they went full-on Freaky Friday and swapped souls, still needs to be answered. We don’t know if the ritual went wrong because Shuri’s ties to her brother were not as strong as needed, or if the presence of the Grootbomb tree interfered, or if something else happened entirely. All we do know: I am Shuri.