Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Classics - Black Panther #1 (2005)

      By the time this Black Panther series arrived in 2005, the hero had already been through a few incarnations.

   T'Challa first appeared almost 40 years before that in an issue of Fantastic Four in 1966, making him the first black super-hero.

   He's had some terrific talents spinning his stories, starting with his creators, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Among others, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Don McGregor, Billy Graham and many others have taken a shot, but one of the best versions of the character was found in this series, courtesy of writer Reginald Hudlin and artists John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson.

   The first issue doesn't actually include the modern version of the Panther, but instead gives us a look at the amazing history of his African kingdom, Wakanda.

   We'd had glimpses of it in past stories, but here it comes to life by way of attempts by outside invaders bent on conquest. We quickly see why Wakanda has never been conquered - and we also see a battle between one of T'Challa's ancestors and a certain iconic super-hero.

   With a real sense of history and an epic scale, this issue (and the ones that followed) help re-establish the Black Panther as one of the most capable, unbeatable heroes in the Marvel Universe - one who deserves to be respected and honored.

   With the hero about to take the national stage - he has an upcoming solo film and a rumored appearance in the Avengers: Age of Ultron film - one hopes the filmmakers will take the best aspects of the past series and craft something that lives up to the promise of this series.

Grade: A


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