Black Panther #1
Black Panther #1
Jack Kirby hits the ground running in what was billed as the Black Panther’s first solo series, and all these years later it is still a singular accomplishment. Kirby’s Bronze Age work often seemed to stand alone — series like New Gods, Eternals, Captain America, and this Black Panther series feel siloed from the larger comics universes in which the reside, with limited points of contact to whatever events were going on at the time, and guest appearances from iconic heroes that feel oddly out-of-step with their canonical selfs. In the 70s, Kirby set everything in the Kirby-verse, and while I didn’t quite get it as a child, I am much younger now, and it suits me just fine. Here, Black Panther is on a treasure hunt, recovering the fabled King Solomon’s Frog and seeking to return it to its resting place.
The twist — the Frog is an ancient artifact that summons monsters through time to kill those who tamper with it. Panther is a bit reactive in this issue (which I recall was my criticism of this series as a whole), but the action and monster quotient forgives a lot. Panther’s weird sidekick, Mister Little, gets bumped by the imperious Princess Zanda in this very first issue (though I believe he returns at a later date), and then everything goes sideways when a bulbous-headed alien with “Hatch 22” stamped on his forehead is summoned by the frog! It has basically nothing to do with Black Panther as we’ve seen him before or since, but it is as weird and wonderful as it sounds … it’s the Kirby-verse, remember? Ready for more.
- Script & Pencils: Jack Kirby
- Inks: Mike Royer
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Posted on July 30, 2018, in Marvel 1977 and tagged Black Panther, Jack Kirby, Marvel Comics, Mike Royer. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.
This wasn’t what I expected out of a Black Panther comic, but it was fun. It was a bit like Indiana Jones.
Dave, I agree, except that Kirby did earlier!
So, it would be more correct to acknowledge that Indian Jones felt a bit like Kirby’s Black Panther.
True, though they probably both owe a little something to Doc Savage.
Being the inspiration for the whole superhero genre, I won’t argue. Still, I believe Batman is way closer to Doc Savage.
I connect Batman more with the Shadow, but, yeah, the dotted lines are pretty early to connect between pulps and Golden Age comics heroes.
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I loved Kirby’s take on the Black Panther, especially the first arc full of action, adventure, treasure hunt, mystery and science fiction. Jack got it all rolled in one entertaining comic run (I suspect George Lucas was more than an avid reader). As a kid, just like you Paul, I would have liked some connections with the so-called Marvel universe but I know better now. Why satin and spoil all the fun against the pompous relevance of most Marvel’s productions of the days. Kirby’s Marvel work in the 70’s passed the test of time, something I’d be hard pressed to say about too many hot and quickly fading trends of that period.
Incidentally, THAT is a great cover! (albeit, sill in low resolution 😉
Count this one as another strike for the King of Comics!
I will need to read more issues to refresh myself, but I recall my first impression (along with the general weirdness) was that the Panther was kind of an observer in his own story. It was like Jack was so caught up in his concepts and supporting characters that the title hero got crowded to the side. Imagination to burn, but mostly applied to the setting and mythology of the Black Panther rather than the hero himself.
I enjoyed this run, although I felt it noticeably dips in quality when T’Challa returns to Wakanda. That first issue sets the tone very well, but it’s a tone increasingly at odds with the rest of the Marvel Universe at the time. I loved the relationship between T’Challa and Mr Little, though, and Zanda is a fantastic creation.
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