"Who is the Black Panther? Part Six"
Writer: Reginald Hudlin
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Dean White
Letters: VC's Randy Gentile
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN
As Klaw and his army of super-villains continues to cause havoc in Wakanda we see the Black Panther manages to get back to his homeland in record time, as he arrives just in time to rescue his mother from the less than kind attentions of his long-time enemy. We than see T'Challa and many other Wakandan warriors manage to turn the tide of the battle, and by issue's end it would appear that the invasion has been driven off, and Wakanda remains unconquered.
I have to say that after giving this book six issues to convince me I have to say that chances are pretty good that I'll be leaving the next issue on the store shelf, as Reginald Hudlin has pretty much removed all the engaging elements that Christopher Priest had developed for the character, and reduced the title to a fairly uninspired, and utterly conventional title that I have no real interest in. I mean on one hand this more pedestrian approach will probably make this title more accessible than the previous series, and Reginald Hudlin certainly earns points for displaying a willingness to play with a wide variety of characters, though I'm not entirely sure Fabian Nicieza will be all that pleased with what is done to the Radioactive Man in this issue. However, this issue left me a bit disappointed in that Reginald Hudlin seems to be perfectly happy offering up a story that offers up no real surprises, and the sole objective of the writing seems to be to continually reinforce the idea that Wakanda and her champion are the coolest cats in the room. I mean there's always cause for concern when a title comes across as so insecure about the readers ability to recognize why they should be fans, that it has to continually sell the concept, as it starts to feel a bit like a used car salesman who is coming across as a little too eager to sell you a particular car on the lot. Now I like the Black Panther, and I'm delighted to see that the sales numbers on this new title look to be pretty secure, but from a pure entertainment standpoint, I found this opening arc to be a wholly predictable exercise, with an rushed climax that bordered on insulting. I mean what's the point of introducing a threat if it's going to be used as little better than a cute throwaway scene? I wish this book continued success, and I'll keep an eye on the previews to see it this title has any story ideas that sound interesting enough to entice me back to the table, but right now Reginald Hudlin looks to offering up material that I really don't find all that interesting.
Another reason why I'm planning on leaving this title is also due to the simple fact that this is John Romita Jr.'s last issue, and I'd be lying if I said his presence on the title wasn't major reason why this series initially found it's way into my must buy column. However before I get going on the interior art I have to say that after going quite some time without seeing his work, Kaare Andrews provides his second cover in this week's batch of comics, and it's a lovely piece that really grabs the eye, and I loved how the cover logo works into the image. As for the interior art I have to say there's some great big impact shots, as there's a wonderful final moment where the Black Panther finally gets his revenge on Klaw. There's also a nice intensity shot where Radioactive Man come to a rather explosive end, and the final page shot of the victorious Black Panther is an impressive image to close out the issue. There's also a nice throwaway visual moment where we see the visual image of the zombie army actually vibrates out of focus during scene where Wakanda is impacted by an earthquake.
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