Current Reviews


Black Panther #24

Posted: Monday, February 5, 2007
By: Shawn Hill

ďWar Crimes: Part TwoĒ

Writer: Reginald Hudlin
Artists: To, Turnbull (p), Ho, de Los Santos, Regla, Nix (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot: Storm is hopping mad about the state of affairs in the United States, so while the Panther goes undercover with Cap, she takes some very public actions, seeking advice and council on her terms, rather than the terms Iron Man is trying to set.

Comments: By my reckoning, Civil War has had a very uneven effect on a variety of Marvel titles, and not just due to company-wide delays in publication. For some books, the effect was deleterious. She-Hulk turned in its preachiest issue ever, totally out of step with the themes of the title. New Avengers has been reduced to a series of individual spotlights, unable to carry on as any sort of team since it began. The Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man have been stalling for time, spinning wheels while stories go nowhere.

For other titles, their Civil War issues were taken in stride, or allowed the writer a chance to comment on the theme with their stars. Ms. Marvel has had to confront some of her own assumptions, Thunderbolts absorbed the dark times into their own agendas, and Hudlin takes the theme of social protest and sovereignty issues and runs with it, turning in the best mix yet of his concerns with race relations, police actions and individual freedoms.

This issue is a Storm spotlight, and itís about time. In fact, the series of short vignettes he fashions here is perhaps the best response Iíve seen from each individual front of the Civil War, showing that someone at least at Marvel is on the ball as far as respecting their characters as people who think and talk and worry, not just costumes who are moved on and off stage like puppets.

Storm has been getting the short end of the stick ever since Claremontís X-Men annual, incongruously overshadowed by the Panther, who (despite his having had more than one solo title over the years and being her predecessor by a decade or more) is nonetheless a lower profile character than the X-Menís premier leader and conscience for the last several decades. Itís blind sexism to have marriage eclipse the history, fandom and established personality as a fierce individualist of a character who is arguably Marvelís best counterpart to DCís Wonder Woman.

This issue, Hudlin doesnít forget that Ororoís not just a mutant warrior; sheís also quite literally a Queen, and that role is always fraught with rights, privileges and responsibilities. Surely, TíChalla chose her in part because he knew she could handle them. Here, on her own, she copes with governmental pressure (is she or is she not subject to Registration?), public scrutiny, and her own doubts and fears for her friends. She argues with Iron Man, she seeks counsel with her paternal grandparents (Storm has a family? How often does anyone remember that?), and she finally goes to talk to Reed Richards, her long-time friend and colleague.

Meanwhile, the Panther spars with Cap, mentors Photon, and judges Sue Storm and Tigra. In Wakanda, the U.S. Military makes a show of force, which rattles the Wakandan leadership, already leery of the Pantherís world tour.

Good issue, lot going on, almost all of it making a fair amount of sense. Hudlin has Ororoís grandma speak very idiomatically, but this too succeeds better than some of his attempts at having his characters let their hair down before. Storm went to her family for comfort, and she needs it with the decisions weighing on both her new allies and her old friends.

The art, on the other hand, is little more than serviceable. This title deserves a regular artist and a distinctive visual style to go with Hudlinís words.

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