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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Takes many of the things I dislike about modern comics — complicated backstory, steadfast refusal to tell an origin story in the first issue, an assumed familiarity with continuity I do not understand — and somehow manages to shoot the moon by brewing up a book that I like! And this despite a three-page introduction that is entirely about theoretical comic book physics. It’s a miracle. It helps that this new super-team is built around characters I like, such as Black Panther and Captain (nee Ms.) Marvel. Vox praised the book for it’s lack of a straight, white, male character … so there’s that, too. It also helps that this team is founded to do more than punch people in the face — their mission is to “solve problems of cosmic scope before they become an issue for earth and the wider multiverse” … you know, the kind of thing the Fantastic Four used to do, before Marvel put them in the penalty box. This first issue walks the walk, with the Ultimates promising a new approach to the oldest and biggest threat in the Marvel Universe (and I won’t spoil it by naming it … but he’s right there on the cover, holding the team in his hand). Our heroes are supremely confident throughout the book, which either means they’re never going to fail, or that storytellers Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort are setting them up for a hubris-driven fall of epic (Ultimate?) proportions.
Approachability For New Readers
Good luck with that.
Sure. I want to see where this goes.
Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.
This week’s F.O.O.M. Friday brings us memories of a good news/bad news variety.
The good news was that Marvel posted a contest challenging readers to write a comics page. That’s kinda cool … it gave fans a chance to participate in the creative process, and maybe learn if they were cut out to write comics.
The bad news was … readers were expected to write like Don McGregor?
Now, that’s just cruel. It’s hard enough trying to write a comics page without any kind of context (I tried just now, and I keep thinking of Scar killing Mufasa in Lion King!) …
… but there’s no way anyone besides Don McGregor could write like Don McGregor. His tortured syntax was unique in the field. Reading his Jungle Action nearly broke my brain!
Anyway, give it a go if you like, and post your scripts to my comments section. This particular Marvel contest is long since closed, but creativity is its own reward, and … you never know!
See you back here next week with a less cruel F.O.O.M. Friday!