One outstanding scene pushes Black Panther from two bullets to three bullets. The villain of the piece causes hostages to fall to their deaths. Black Panther stages a superb, gymnastic rescue, expertly illustrated by The Black Coat‘s Francesco Francavilla.
Black Panther should have ended at this thrilling heroic moment, which cements the Panther’s status as Hell’s Kitchen’s protector. Had it, I might have been inclined to return a grading of four bullets. Writer David Liss however cannot resist sour notes. While not every ending needs to be happy, this one should have been.
Liss presents Black Panther as ineffective and this gives the reader the further impression that T’Challa is merely keeping Matt Murdock’s seat warm. Bodies pile up off screen. Guest star Luke Cage, talking very uncharacteristically, stops by at the Panther’s eatery to offer potential backup. All of this suggests the inevitability in the Panther’s defeat. Bottom line—Black Panther needs to win a few times before he can lose.
If it weren’t for Francavilla Man Without Fear would be a useless title. It fails as a spotlight for Black Panther since the specter of Daredevil haunts every word and every panel. It fails of course as a draw for DD fans. It’s not even much of a superhero book.