This is the “House of M” issue of Black Panther. I haven’t read any of the other “House of M” crossovers, but based on this one, they seem intriguing.
In the HoM world, Africa is thriving. Under the rule of Queen Ororo (Storm) and King T’Challa (Black Panther), the continent has gone from being extremely poor to quite rich. As Ororo states on the “Alison” show, “From basket case to the world’s breadbasket, Africa is on the move.” Naturally, this has drawn the attention of Magneto. He had left Africa alone while he consolidated control elsewhere in the world, but now Magneto sees the continent as a threat. Meanwhile, in the Wakandan palace, things aren’t as content as they seem. T’Challa and Ororo barely speak to each other, and the Panther has taken on concubines. Meanwhile, the Panther has become part of an alliance of unaligned countries such as Atlantis and Japan. Finally Magneto launches an attack on Wakanda, and readers see the depth and breadth of T’Challa and Ororo’s personal and political power.
Reginald Hudlin delivers an exciting and fast-moving, but also dense, comic. It’s refreshing to read such an compressed comic. There’s just a whole lot going on in this issue, from Quicksilver’s unrequited love for Ororo to Black Bolt speaking, and it’s nice to read a comic with such a density to it. The battle between the Panther and Sabretooth is particularly well-done, and the moment where Black Bolt appears is especially cool. Some of the dialogue is bizarre – ever see a king say something as odd as “You got me straight trippin’, boo”? – but overall it flows well and is an exciting read.
I was frustrated by the scenes of T’Challa where he’s shown as being very loose with the women. I don’t expect my heroes to be pure, but the sidebar where Shanna and Monica Lynne fight like jealous schoolgirls over the Panther was a bit embarassing. I realize that part of the idea behind this book is to show that nobody, not even a great king, is moral in the corrupt world of the House of M, but I found that twist to be rather distrating. It’s also not true to those two characters as we know them in the main Marvel Universe, which made it especially distracting.
A real highlight of the comic is the gorgeous art by Hairsine and Dell. The pair is terrific at conveying an epic look at feel in the book. The opening scenes, in a garden, are a masterpiece of detail and design. The art looks like prime Alan Davis, and that’s a real compliment.
Based on this issue, I want to read more from the House of M.