Saturday, March 7, 2009

Black Panther #2

Most comic book characters never change much from year to year - but that's not the case with the Black Panther.

The first appearance of T'Challa was in Fantastic Four #52 (in the mid-'60s), when he managed the amazing feat of fighting the FF to a standstill. More amazing was the final panel, when he removed his mask and revealed himself as the first black superhero!

It's funny, I bought that issue off the stands as a young'un, and I don't remember feeling an iota of shock or surprise at the revelation. Either I was too stupid to realize the color barrier had been broken, or I was smart enough to realize that he was black before that final panel.

Over the years since then, the Panther was usually written as a black Daredevil - strong, agile and intelligent - but that was about it.

The most recent version of the Panther has focused on T'Challa, the king of Wakanda, a kingdom that has never been conquered. The Panther is now seen to be one of the most capable heroes in the Marvel Universe, able to go toe-to-toe and hold his own against anyone.

I enjoy the fact that this is a very smart character, as capable of winning a fight with his brain as with his brawn.

That's made his comic a lot of fun to follow. For whatever reason, the book has been relaunched, and the first story arc focuses on the new female Black Panther. Reginald Hudlin is weaving a powerful story here, as the Panther faces an attack by Dr. Doom, another character who (like Norman Osborn) seems to be appearing in every comic at once.

At least here Doom is portrayed as the baddest bad guy of them all - as he should be.

The art on the issue is by Ken Lashley and Paul Neary, and while I'm not familiar with Lashley's work, this is a good effort here - I look forward to seeing more of his work.

The story is moving in unexpected directions, as the Panther's story continues to grown and evolve - and that's a good thing! Here's hoping for more of the same!

Grade: B+

No comments: