"Who Is The Black Panther? Part Two"
Writer: Reginald Hudlin
Artists: John Romita Jr. (p), Klaus Janson (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As the various government officials continue their discussion about Wakanda, their conversation moves to the Black Panther, and then the book jumps back to the tribal ritual where T'Challa became the new Black Panther after he defeated the former Black Panther (his uncle) in an annual hand to hand combat ceremony. Jumping to the present day, a special task force of villains has been brought together to invade Wakanda.
Comments: On one hand it's nice to see Reginald Hudlin has decided to flesh out T'Challa's back-story, and that he's also expanded this character study to include the nation of Wakanda, as it's this element that sets Black Panther apart from the crowd. On the other hand, if you're already familiar with the Black Panther's origin then there's quite a bit here that will feel like it's covering ground that's been well established. Reginald Hudlin does though earn marks for the seamless way he's managed to add to the back-story. I'm looking forward to the tensions that are sure to arise between T'Challa and the son of the man who was the previous Black Panther. Now I realize some readers will take issue with the idea that the characters have a decidedly contemporary speaking style, but frankly I'm rather pleased that Reginald Hudlin has adopted this approach as historical accuracy should always take a back seat to delivering characters that readers will be able to identify with instantly. However, where this book loses some of my interest is when it turns its attention to the sinister government officials who are discussing the nation of Wakanda. These characters are painted as little better than war mongering goofs who don't seem to have any agenda beyond acting as a thinly veiled poke at the current administration. This is a shame because having America concerned about Wakanda is a plot element that could've been produced a far more intelligent and compelling discussion. Still, the plot device that resulted from their concerns looks promising, as Klaw and his new partner make for a pretty sinister duo, and I'm looking forward to their impending bid to invade Wakanda.
John Romita Jr. is the main reason why I picked up this new Black Panther series. While I'm a fan of the character, the simple fact of the matter is that I'm currently making a futile effort to trim the number of titles I pick up. As such, I'm not looking for new titles to add to my monthly pile. However, John Romita Jr. has long been one of my favourite artists, and he's an ideal match for this title, as he does a lovely job of deliverying the mix of technology and tribal custom that is a regular part of Wakanda life. This issue also offers up an extended Jack Kirby style battle, that is perfectly captured by John Romita Jr. How can one not love the sheer energy of the scene where the former Black Panther squares off against the hulking brute, or the sheer agility of the clash later in the issue as T'Challa enters the arena? The art also does nicely conveys the evil nature of our villains on the final page.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!