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Comics 411: The Best Black Panther Stories

February 14, 2018 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

I’m Steve Gustafson and thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to check out 411mania’s Comic Book Review Roundtable, every Thursday! Read up on the best reviews and let us know what you’re reading as well. Click to read the latest Comic Book Review Roundtable! The Amazing Spider-Man #795, The Silencer #1, and more!

Now, on with the show!

Last week we discussed our Thoughts on Brian Michael Bendis’ Plans for DC! Here’s what some of you had to say:

Cloud Strife: “I don’t follow comics that closely but I get the sense people have turned on Bendis. I remember just a few years ago everyone praising him for Ultimate Spider-Man and Powers, but now I always see people bashing him.”

s1rude: “Superman is probably the thing I’m least interested in. Not because it sounds bad, necessarily, but every other writer starts with a “Make Metropolis a character, focus on Clark” mission statement and no one has made it stick yet. The broad strokes also sound like “event comics” BNB, which is my least favorite version.

My personal favorite Bendis work is the Daredevil run, so I’m excited to see him play around with similar second-tier characters (not a knock on DD, just that he’s not Spidey or Cap and therefore can avoid needing to be a part of a big crossover a few times a year). Not sure if that will come from his imprint or elsewhere, but stories with characters like Green Arrow, or Blue Beetle, would really pique my interest.

Far as his creator-owned stuff goes, as long as he’s happy with the deal… I still won’t set my watch to new work coming out with any regularity, though.”

Earl Chatterton: “I’ve never read Superman, but I’m a big fan of Bendis and much of what he’s been doing at Marvel. As a Marvel reader, I’m disappointed to see him go, but the guy is a terrific talent and I’m sure he’ll do good work for DC. He did wonderful things redoing the Spider-Man lore with Ultimate Spider-Man.”

Cactus: “I don’t really know any of BMB’s work, so I don’t really know what to expect other than he has some trouble writing compelling female characters. The biggest news for me was the new imprint, because after the success of Young Animal, it could be anything. On top of this BMB imprint, DC will now have Vertigo, Wildstorm, Young Animal, DC Ink, and DC Zoom, which is pretty crazy. I’ve never even heard of the Jinxworld stuff, but hopefully it doesn’t take priority over his DC work”

To read ALL the comments from the column, CLICK HERE! As always, thanks for the input!

This week we discuss…

The Best Black Panther Stories!

Black Panther is coming to theaters and it’s box office is growing by the day with some estimating the movie will pull in as much as $170 million in North America during the four-day President’s Day weekend.

Not bad for a character that’s mostly been a side character in the Marvel comic universe and that has been around since 1966. While his star has shined brightest in recent years, he’s lacking true classic tales to remember but I have a feeling that’s about to change.

Black Panther was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, making his first appearance in Fantastic Four #52. We also got our first look at his arch-nemesis…Klaw!

A word about Black Panther’s rogue gallery. Like Wonder Woman’s, his isn’t filled with memorable villains. Can you name 5? This too is something I think is going to change in the near future.

The Black Panther journeyed from the fictional African nation of Wakanda to New York City, New York to join the the Avengers in The Avengers #52 and he received his first starring feature with Jungle Action #5.

His first notable storyline followed starting in Jungle Action #6 and “Panther’s Rage”. What made this worth looking at? The epic nature of the story and we get to meet T’Challa’s foe, Eric Killmonger.

Staying with Jungle Action and issues #19-22 and Marvel Premiere #51-53, we got the controversial “Black Panther vs. The Klan”.

The Jungle Action stories have aged well and writer-editor Dwayne McDuffie said of the “Black Panther” feature:

“This overlooked and underrated classic is arguably the most tightly written multi-part superhero epic ever. If you can get your hands on it … sit down and read the whole thing. It’s damn-near flawless, every issue, every scene, a functional, necessary part of the whole. Okay, now go back and read any individual issue. You’ll find seamlessly integrated words and pictures; clearly introduced characters and situations; a concise (sometimes even transparent) recap; beautifully developed character relationships; at least one cool new villain; a stunning action set piece to test our hero’s skills and resolve; and a story that is always moving forward towards a definite and satisfying conclusion. That’s what we should all be delivering, every single month. Don [McGregor] and company did it in only 17 story pages per issue.”

Unfortunately, low sales took out Jungle Action and Black Panther made sporadic appearances in other books and miniseries.

Then we come to writer Christopher Priest’s and penciller Mark Texeira’s 1998 series The Black Panther, volume 3. Priest immediately jumped into things and made Black Panther not only feel important but relevant. From his initial “The Client” that introduced Everett K. Ross to his “Enemy of the State” storyline in Black Panther #6-12 threw T’Challa into the fire when he responds to the involvement of the US government in actions against Wakanda and the Avengers have to step in. Priest put his own stamp on the Black Panther/Killmonger dynamic in Black Panther #16-20 “Killmonger’s Rage”.

It was Black Panther #26-29 “Sturm und Drang” that gave us a deeper and wider appreciation of T’Challa’s power and place in the Marvel universe. Black Panther “Enemy of the State II” further cemented this with T’Challa bumping up against Tony Stark. Oh, and Wolverine shows up too.

Black Panther’s importance carried on in the 4th volume of his series and writer Reginald Hudlin’s first storyline that ran the first six issues titled “Who is the Black Panther?” gave us a fresh look at Wakanda and it’s significance to T’Challa.

Black Panther “See Wakanda and Die” is another high point that throws us into the action of a very gripping invasion of the Skulls and what Black Panther must do to protect his country and those who rely on him.

While we’ve started to scratch the surface of Black Panther’s potential, his best stories remain in front of him.

What Black Panther stories do you like the best?

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!