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Black Panther: The Man Without Fear (Or His Wife)

Black Panther by Simone Bianchi

Thanks to the recent events in Shadowland, Daredevil has gone crazy and it looks he might not last much longer as the protector of Hell’s Kitchen.  That means someone else needs to step in for him while he’s being “reborn,” so T’Challa of Wakanda, aka the Black Panther, is due for a return to the United States.  Above, Simone Bianchi draws the new “man without fear.”

Black Panther by Francesco Francavilla

And here’s Francesco Francavilla‘s cover for the new title, which is actually the old Daredevil title with the same numbering and a new header (much like Incredible Hulk became Incredible Hercules for a while).  If you haven’t checked out Francesco’s blogs you are missing out on some amazing storytelling!  I get lost on his site for hours at a time and I think I’ve unearthed only half of the amazing art on display there!  I’m glad he’s getting a high profile Marvel gig (he will be providing interiors for the series) and I hope it leads to many more for him.

As for Black Panther bouncing around the rooftops of New York City, I’m all for it.  What is the impetus behind this sudden change?  Series writer David Liss says:

“T’Challa is no longer the king of Wakanda, and he has no more vibranium,” says Liss, touching on recent changes to the life of his new leading man. “After the trials of DoomWar, he’s looking to figure out who he is; what it means to be T’Challa without all the roles, responsibilities and powers that have defined him for so long. When an opportunity arises to relocate to Hell’s Kitchen, it seems like exactly the kind of test he’s looking for.”

It appears that T’Challa’s wife Storm will be hanging with the X-Men while T’Challa does his soul searching.

“Storm is with the X-Men in Utopia,” reveals the writer. “[Her and T’Challa’s] relationship has not changed; they are still married, in love and committed to each other. At the same time, they have their own things they have to do. Storm not only accepts that T’Challa has to be alone right now, she insists on it because she understands that is what he needs. T’Challa is out to test his limits and see what he’s made of; that would be hard to do if every time he got in trouble Storm came flying in and zapped his enemies.”

Interesting.  I think this new role for T’Challa might be actually pretty good for him and Storm’s relationship.  He’s lost all of his toys and his playset, so he does need to regroup and reconfigure his identity.  A bit of back to basics might be good for him and I love the idea of T’Challa prowling around New York City.  X-Men fans are most likely happy to have Storm back full time for a while.  I hope we get some on panel time between the married couple as they deal with the strain of a long distance relationship, but if we don’t I can just pretend it happened off panel.  Hopefully, the time apart will build Ororo and T’Challa up, showing them as awesome individuals, so when they reunite fans of both characters will rejoice.

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2 Comments

  1. John G

    Hm, almost sounds like a stealth break-up to me.

  2. Ingonyama

    This looks to address my biggest problem with the Black Panther as a character.

    T’Challa, unlike the majority of other heroes out there, is a king. Specifically, he’s king of Wakanda, the uber-advanced society that has magically cured every physical and social ailment known to man (except bigotry, apparently).

    The dramatic tension of any situation involving the Black Panther is severely crimped by the fact that the man does have his own country, with all the requisite perks (an army, personal bodyguards, diplomats, etc). It’s sort of like making Superman Emperor of Krypton, rather than some farmboy from Kansas.

    Worlds Apart showed me the first really compelling Black Panther story I’ve ever seen, by making him a captive king, a prisoner inside his own body. It was a situation no one could have helped him out of except Storm, thanks to her history with Farouk and her rapport with the Panther God (which was earned through respect, not simply granted because she was T’Challa’s wife. I loved that!). Situations like these are a test of a character’s true mettle…and if Black Panther is going to be as great a character as Hudlin wanted him to be, he’s got to go through a period where he can’t rely on Wakanda to bail him out of a problem.

    Kind of like Storm’s powerless phase, but with political clout rather than weather powers.

    So while I’m not as likely to pick this up as I am to grab issues of Xenogenesis or The Children’s Crusade, I will grant that it’s something that needs to happen for the good of the character.

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