Sunday, November 20, 2016

Review: BLACK PANTHER Volume 2 #2


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Christopher Priest with Joe Quesada
ARTIST: Mark Texeira with Alitha Martinez
COLORS: Avalon Color
LETTERS: Rich S and Comicraft’s Siobhan Hanna
COVER: Mark Texeira
EDITORS: Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti
EIC: Bob Harras
32pp, Color, $2.50 US, $3.50 CAN (December 1998)


When I learned that former Marvel Comics editor and writer, Christopher Priest (once known as Jim Owsley), was returning to comic books, I was excited.  Priest has been announced as the new writer of DC Comics' Deathstroke comic book series, beginning some time later this year.  The news started me thinking about one of Priest's more notable runs in comic books.

Beginning in 1998, Joe Quesada and his partners at Event Comics (including inker Jimmy Palmiotti) oversaw a Marvel Comics imprint dubbed “Marvel Knights.”  One of the characters that received the “Marvel Knights” treatment was Black Panther.  Christopher Priest wrote this new Black Panther series (Volume 2) with story contributions from Quesada.  Artist Mark Texeira drew the first four issues of Priest's run.

Marvel Comics' the Black Panther, also known as T’Challa, is the first black superhero to appear in mainstream American comic books.  Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 (cover dated: July 1966).

For Black Panther Vol. 2, Priest used characters from the 1990-91 miniseries, Black Panther: Panther’s Rage.  He also introduced new characters, in particularly Everett K. Ross, an attorney in the Office of the Chief of Protocol at the U.S. State Department.  Priest's story revolves around Black Panther's trip to the United States to investigate “The Tomorrow Fund,” a charity he established.  There has not only been financial irregularity at the charity, but there has also been a death related to the charity, that of a young girl who was the face of The Tomorrow Fun.  The story of Black Panther Vol. 2 is narrated via flashback by Everett K. Ross to his State Department boss, Nikki Adams.

Black Panther Vol. 2 #2 (“Invasion”) opens in an apartment in the Leslie N. Hill Housing Project, where Black Panther and his entourage has decided to make their base of operations while in New York City.  Ross, the State Department's liaison to T'Challa, is still without his pants and has found himself in the company of Mephisto.  Meanwhile, Black Panther is beating and intimidating his way through the city in order to find out how a child connected to his charity ended up dead.  The answer is a lot closer to home than T'Challa realizes.

Christopher Priest has stated that he used Everett K. Ross to bridge a gap between the African culture in which much of the Black Panther mythos is based and Marvel Comics’ predominantly white readership.  I don't need that bridge, neither as a longtime comic book reader nor as an African-American.  As I have previously stated, I think comic books have maintained a “predominantly white readership” for a number of reasons.  That includes substandard marketing, advertising, and public relations, to say nothing of the publishing and editorial policies regarding who is hired and assigned to create comics.  However, I have encountered many comic book readers who are predominantly of European extraction i.e. “white boys,” who really liked Priest's Black Panther and still fondly remember the series.

I think Priest's decision to tell the story via Ross is a kind of genius move.  He uses Ross to bring levity to the series, and in Ross, Priest has fashioned a funny guy and a truly likable character.  His misadventures are a kind of after-dinner mint to the main story, Black Panther's quest for answers regarding The Tomorrow Fund, which Priest tells in the spirit of blaxploitation movies.

It is a tale of woe and urban decay and of crime and betrayal.  Priest depicts Black people hurting other people for money and power, and “the Man” is not to blame.  Also, the trouble of Mother Africa, in this case, Black Panther's home country of Wakanda, are intimately connected to the scandal of The Tomorrow Fun.

It is odd that I am not that crazy about the style of Mark Texeira's art for Black Panther Vol. 2.  Still, his graphical storytelling is picture perfect for Priest's multifaceted script.  It even works in the comic scenes featuring Ross.  Texeira's art works in spite of itself; at least, it seems that way to me...

After reading Black Panther Vol. 2 #2, I am ready to read Priest's Deathstroke.  I am also anxious to read more of this series.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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