Reviewer: Tim Sheridan
Story Title: Who is the Black Panther-Part One
Written by: Reginald Hudlin
Penciled by: John Romita Jr
Inked by: Klaus Janson
Colored by: Dean White
Lettered by: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I’ve never been a fan of Black Panther. I’ve never disliked him, but I’ve never been particularly moved to pick up his book. So why now? Why not? Marvel is putting a lot behind this incarnation of the character, so I thought I’d at least give it a shot. They are giving a lot of press to the new writer “Hollywood heavyweight” Reginald Hudlin. And while I don’t think the director of House Party and Boomerang is necessarily a “heavyweight,” I really enjoyed his “The Great White Hype”. And I’m always a fan of Hollywood folks taking an interest in comics.
And while it doesn’t always work out that Hollywood writers can also write for comics, this book has something else going for it, and that’s the art team of John Romita Jr and his inker Klaus Janson. I’ve followed JRjr for years and always love his work. He has such a specific style, but it’s one that always seems to work. I’m always interested in a project he has a hand in.
So down to the issue at hand. Is this comic any good? Somewhat. It’s quite enjoyable. I can’t really speak to any of the previous series featuring Black Panther. I know that there are many loyal fans of the Priest-written series. And I’m sure it’s great. I just didn’t happen to read it. So I came into this one pretty fresh and with no real expectations or baggage.
However, I can’t say I was too pleased with the comic. While I appreciate the fact that this is an introduction to the character, I would have liked to at least see him in the comic. What we have is an introduction to the mythology of the Black Panther. We see different versions throughout the ages. And it doesn’t work for me. I think the reason why is the dialogue. Hudlin insists on having people in every time period talk in very much modern vernacular. And it comes across as awkward. While Romita does a great job of setting the atmosphere with his art, the writing takes it away just as quickly. The scenes play out very well, but the dialogue takes a lot away from it.
What is interesting comes in the latter half of the book. I’m intrigued by the political storyline involving Wakanda. It’s a type of story that isn’t really told in traditional superhero books, and I’m hoping this is the story Hudlin focuses in on.
Also, there is a villain plot forming, with the uber-lame character of Klaw, best known as Dr. Doom’s sidekick in Secret War. But he looks cool now, thanks to Romita.
Anyways, overall this issue was very mixed for me. Some things worked well, and other parts did not at all. I think I’ll give the series another issue or two to win me over.