Current Reviews

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Black Panther #59

Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Christopher Priest
Artists: Patrick Zircher (p), Norm Rapmund (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Kasper Cole trying to gain help from the White Wolf, in his bid to locate the missing son of corrupt Lieutenant Sal Anthony, as if he's able to produce the man's son, Sal Anthony has agreed to testify against the 66 Bridges. However the White Wolf is hardly willing to help Kasper now that T'Challa is back in the saddle, so Kasper has to look elsewhere. He then finds the help he is seeking at Tork's funeral, when the Falcon makes contact with him and makes it clear that he hold him partially responsible for Tork's death. We then see these two form an uneasy alliance, in which they manage to track down the missing child, by locating a pediatrician who is in the employ of the 66 Bridges. However, while they are able to locate the home where the child is being held, we see the Falcon's doubts about Kasper's methods have only increased, as he looks upon Kasper as a reckless thug, whose methods are just as bad as the villains he's trying to take down. However their conversation is brought to an abrupt end when their car is attacked by a helicopter, and while the Falcon makes a failed bid to rescue the child before he can be spirited away, we see Kasper makes an equally ineffectual attempt at taking down the attack helicopter. In the end the two decide to head their separate ways, and Kasper finds himself back at square one.

Comments:
The reviews for this book have really dropped off, and there doesn't seem to be much discussion of the current material in the online community, so I'm not sure what others think of the new direction. However, since T'Challa is a regular part of the Avengers, I'm perfectly willing to have this book focus more upon the new kid in the costume, as I rather like the idea of T'Challa serving as a mentor figure to a decidedly less experienced Black Panther. I've always been a fan of heroes who are less than perfect, as I've always found it to be infinitely more interesting when a hero looks to be making their way out of a harrowing situation by the skin of their teeth. I like it when heroes are allowed to make mistakes, or when their cunning plans come off the rails. I mean, give me action movies starring heroes who grimace in pain after a fight, and who take just as many, if not more blows as they dished out, and I'm happy. I like the fact that Indiana Jones doesn't mow his way through the opposition, or that Ash from the Evil Dead films comes across as an arrogant blowhard, who one almost expects to mess up the most simple of task. Now I like T'Challa, and I'm delighted to see him playing a regular role in this book, but when the action breaks out it's Kaspar Cole who I want to see stumbling & bumbling his way across the battlefield.

I do believe this marks the first time I've ever found myself disagreeing with something Christopher Priest had a character doing, but in the final pages of this issue he has the Falcon deciding to drop the hunt for the kidnapped child. Now I can understand him deciding upon a different approach, as rushing in with guns a blazing has proven to be a rather ineffective method of securing the child. I can even accept him deciding to break away from Kasper Cole, as the book makes it clear the Falcon considers the man a liability, and he strongly disapproves of the man's methods. However, the Falcon is very much cut from the same cloth as heroes like Captain America & Spider-Man in that these characters are fundamentally unable to turn a blind eye to a situation where they can help. I mean if nothing else, knowing that a child is being used as a bargaining chip to keep a police detective in line is something that the Falcon wouldn't be able to ignore, but that's exactly what the character looks to be doing in the final pages of this issue. My only hope is that the Falcon pretended he had dropped the situation so he could continue the investigation on his own, and that when Kasper tracks down the child he'll learn the Falcon had continued the investigation. As it stands though I found it completely out of character for the Falcon to give up like he appeared to.

Since the "Thunderbolts" underwent it's creative change, I've wondered where Patrick Zircher would end up, as he's certainly too good an artist to be left out in the cold for very long, and I welcome his arrival in these pages. His art is crisp, fluid, and best of all it is able to clearly convey the material, which is ever so important on a book that is written by Christopher Priest, as I don't think there's another comic writer working today that offers up plots that operate on as many levels as this book does. The art does some wonderful work on the little moments, as the scene where Sam Wilson accepts the flag at Tork's funeral is a truly powerful moment, with Captain America's gesture of support being a particularly impressive touch. The art also does some very strong work on the action, as there's a fantastic moment in this issue, where Kasper Cole is blasting away at an advancing attack helicopter, while the Falcon smashes his way into a home, where he he's faces with a barrage of energy blasts. The scene where Kaspar takes his tumble off the helicopter is also nicely done, as one can almost see the look of self-loathing in his eyes after he's rescued by the Falcon. I also have to make mention of the cover, as while it's a rather familiar visual, it's still a pretty effective one, as the Black Panther looks more than ready to do some damage.

Final Word:
I must confess I was completely lost during the scene at the funeral where Kasper Cole converses with his crew, but other than this little panic inducing moment, I was able to follow the action quite easily. This issue is a fairly engaging team-up between Kasper Cole & the Falcon, as we see the two join forces to locate a missing child, and their conflicting approaches and Kasper's lack of experience in the hero game makes for some nicely realized moments of tension. The book also manages to convey a very real debate regarding the two different styles, as one can't deny that Kasper's brutality does get results, but then again the question of how far he's willing to go to achieve a goal does add a nice sense of uncertainty to the character's actions. There's also some wonderful moments of interaction, such as the opening exchange between Kasper & the White Wolf, and the final conversation that Kasper has with T'Challa is equally impressive. I do have some serious reservations about the Falcon's decision to drop the case though.



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