Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Panther Rundown

This is a look at the entire run of the Christopher Priest Black Panther series.

First, a little 101-

The Black Panther is both the king of all the tribes of Wakanda as well as the head of the Panther Cult its major religion. He was set to marry Monica Lynne an American singer and political activist. Due to unrest in Wakanda he was forced to enact an ancient tradition that made the marriage impossible. A woman from each tribe's chief family would be selected as a "Dora Milaje" or "adored ones". They would serve as chaste companions and bodyguards to the king. If the king were to show favor to any one, the other tribes would take it as a declaration of war. Neither could the king marry another, for that would also bring civil war. Two Dora Milaje were known at the start of the series, Nakia and Okoye. A third was hidden in the U.S. by her parents who didn't want that life for her.

The Series

#1-5 "The Client"- Everett K. Ross, an agent of the State Department fills in his boss/lover on how a simple investigation into a murder led to a coup d'etat in Wakanda. It's a long complicated story involving a children's charity that became a money laundering operation, T'challa's adopted brother and leader of the Wakandan secret police (the White Wolf), a psychopathic rebel with religious fundamentalist support, and the devil's pants. All issues have art by Mark Texeira. #3 had a variant cover by Bruce Timm.

#6-12 "Enemy Of The State"- In exile, the Panther discovers that certain U.S. intelligence agents and assets helped engineer the coup d'etat. This arc features Kraven the Hunter (hired by the White Wolf to keep T'Challa in shape); the Avengers learning that the Panther initially joined to spy on them; and the retaking of Wakanda. Several artists work on this arc. Joe Jusko did issue #6-8 with Amanda Connor contributing five pages in #8 that retell Captain America #100 and are Kirby-esque. Mike Manley did #9-10 and Mark D. Bright did #11 and 12.

#13-20 "Killmonger's Rage"- Killmonger (from Don MacGregor's Jungle Action #6-18) returns to disgrace T'Challa using several pawns including Hydro-Man, Nightshade, Stiletto, Cottonmouth, Boss Morgan, Cockroach and the Hulk. Showing up to aid the Panther are Justice, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, the Falcon, Brother Voodoo and Bill Foster Goliath. This arc introduced Queen Divine Justice who would be a central character for most of the run. Sal Velluto took over the art as regular artist however #18 was done by Kyle Hotz (late 90's Hulk and Spider-Man)

#21-22 "Quest for the Panther"- Brother Voodoo and Moon Knight search the spirit realm for T'Challa who was defeated and put into a coma by Killmonger. #22 had a homage to Batman.

#23-25 "Cat Trap"- crossed over with Deadpool #44 and reintroduced the insane Nakia as Malice. #25 was a tie-in to the Maximum Security event. This arc killed off a character close to both T'Challa and Ross.

#26-30 "War"- Storm showed up to comfort T'Challa over the aforementioned death and that led to a series of events that threatened a war between Wakanda and Deviant Lemuria dragging in Atlantis, Genosha and the U.S. Meanwhile the White Wolf freed Klaw (see Captain America v2) to instigate war. Namor, Magneto and even Doom counsel T'Challa to prevent this war in #27-28. In #30 there was hearing on whether to end US diplomatic ties to Wakanda. Priest, through Ross, stated the case as to just who the Panther is (or rather should be) and how people have gotten the wrong impression about him. [it's a mission statement for the book really]. #30 also had a flashback to the meeting of Cap and T'Challa's grandfather in the 40's. Norm Breyfogle did the art for that issue.

#31-33 "Seduction of the Innocent"- Malice returned to kill T'Challa and Monica Lynne. T'Challa hired Dakota North to protect Lynne while he laid a trap for Malice. Meanwhile, Man-Ape showed up and abducted QDJ.

#34-35 "Gorilla Warfare"- While the Panther fought Man-Ape with Henry Peter Gyrich, Ross tried to convince the Defenders to help him get his body back from Mephisto. Yes the devil was running around in Ross' body while he was in Mephisto's. QDJ is revealed to be the third Dora Milaje the one from Man-Ape's tribe. The big shock was discovering another Black Panther frozen in ice. Jim Califiore did the art for this arc.

#36-37 "Once And Future King"- Showed a possible future for T'Challa and his allies. This picked up on the Batman homage from #21 and ran with it. #36 was a 100pg Monster with reprints of FF#52-53 and Jungle Action #8 along with a 3pg character study and info on Wakanda from OHotMU entries.

#38-40 "Return Of The Dragon"- The Black Dragon turned out to be the one who switched bodies with Ross. Nightshade resurrected him, but put a poison in his body to control him so he switched it for Ross'. T'Challa faced a mind controlled Iron Fist and was nearly beaten to a pulp before breaking Black Dragon's hold on him. [an important plot point in future] Nightshade revived the other Panther who talked like the Panther from the Kirby run. That Panther's mere presence ended a tribal war in Wakanda while Priest Panther tricked Black Dragon into switching back to his own body and defeating him (not before we got some 1998 Godzilla movie action). #39 was part of that " 'Nuff Said " event.

#41-45 "Enemy Of The State II"- T'Challa (Priest Panther) recruited Wolverine to help uncover a conspiracy to take over the governments of the world. It involved a claim on a Canadian island, the sale of trucks, and time displaced duplicates. Meanwhile, the other Panther (Happy Pants Panther) sought out his former associates in the search for the Golden Frogs of King Solomon. Iron Man/ Tony Stark was brought in as a false antagonist to Priest Panther so he could be warned that the conspiracy was targeting him. Although, there was a fight between a Stark duplicate and a Panther(not telling which) in #45 that was epic.

#46-47 "Saddles Ablaze"- The main cast was transported by the Frogs into the past of America's west. There they ran into Thor, Loki and The Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt and Two-Gun Kid. This referenced a previous Thor story, but I can't recall what number (#190's). Jorge Lucas handled the art for these two issues.

#48-49 "Death Of The Black Panther"- Happy Pants Panther succumbed to a seizure and forced T'Challa to deal with his impending death by talking to visions of Monica Lynne and Magneto while ending the war with the gorilla tribe. A mistake in battle almost led to QDJ dying. The book ended with T'Challa having released QDJ from her duties and abdicating the throne pretty much.

#50-56 "Black And White" -Introduced Kasper Cole a NYPD narcotics officer who found a Panther costume (from "Seduction Of The Innocent" storyline) and because it saved him from being shot when the rest of his team were killed or injured he earned a suspension and had his loyalty called into question. First the White Wolf then T'Challa aided him as he sought who set his team up and why his corrupt superior wanted to own him. #50 was drawn by Dan Fraga, #51-54 were Jorge Lucas and #55-56 were Jim Calafiore.

#57-58 "Coming To America" was a terrible filler arc written by Joe Torres and drawn by Ryan Bodenheim. Don't bother with it.

#59-62 "Ascension"- A frustrated Kasper Cole wanted to go through the Rite Of Ascension to gain the powers of the Black Panther, but when Killmonger came out of his coma it changed things. Offered a synthetic version of the heart-shaped herb Cole took it and the promise of information on criminals. Cole then raced to find the info himself while he adapted to his new senses. He did so, earning the Panther's respect and the title of White Tiger. Patrick Zircher did the wonderful art this arc. This was the final arc as the book was relaunched by Hudlin. I don't think that either Ross or QDJ have showed up again which is both good and bad.
A greatly underappreiciated nearly forgotten run. Only the first two story arcs and the Kasper Cole arcs were collected into trade (a Wolverine story arc stole it's name from one) in the US. However, Spanish trades reprinted the whole run (in Spanish of course)

No comments:

Post a Comment