Friday, September 17, 2010

Does Marvel know what they are doing with Black Panther?

Marvel will be moving Black Panther over to the Daredevil title at issue #513. This is pretty sad since Black Panther once headlined his own title, at least two times. Unfortunately the powers that be believe that Black Panther can’t headline his own book. A lot of times the character gets marginalized to the “proverbial” ghetto and now he will be going to the literal ghetto.

This is different than when Priest had Black Panther trolling around the ghetto for the first few issues of his run. Especially when I hear the new writer saying things like this:
The other aspect of "Black Panther: The Man Without Fear" that Liss finds intriguing is the chance to drop T'Challa, the former king of the fictional African nation known as Wakanda, into the middle of the crime ridden wasteland that the Kitchen has become post "Shadowland." "We're taking somebody who has always been royalty - his father was a king and he's been a powered superhero and a monarch for a large portion of his life. We're stripping all of that away from him. He has no powers. He has no Wakandan tech. This series is about somebody trying to figure out what he's made of and who he is. He's coming to this environment, which is so dangerous and troubled, to test himself," Liss explained. "That's what I really loved about this project. It was an opportunity to rethink a long established and iconic character in very interesting way. -Liss Sends T'Challa to Hell's Kitchen-
Now, I don’t want to go entitled fanboy or anything, but this pretty much says that this writer does not know the history of the panther. Tchalla knows who he is. He lost his father at a young age, he was thrust into the spotlight of Wakandan politics as a child and built to be the leader of an unconquerable African nation. This was at a time when all of Africa was being carved out to britan, France, Spain and whomever else wanted to roll through with rifles. So from this we can gather that he isn’t some spoiled monarch, but instead a man born of steel and fire. He is a warrior whose people come to him every few years and deride him for leaving them behind. And what does he do? He takes their rituals head on and shows them why he is their leader.
What I am saying is, Black Panther isn’t Batman. Running through the ghettos busting the heads of gangsters is small time to a man who spend his youth at the table with world leaders. This is a guy that has embassies, and an army, and a Panther God at his back. Why would he even CARE about what Tony Soprano is doing thousands of miles away from his birthplace.

To me it is lazy story telling. Don’t get me started on the idea of Wakanda being bankrupt. You can’t be sitting on all that intellectual property and technology and be bankrupt. Their children’s toys should be worth enough to the world stage to make them an economic entity. They could sell versions 3 or 4 of the kimoyo card and make Apple crap their pants.

On the one hand Marvel wants us to support their character, and follow him through his adventures. On the other hand they want us to forget their character’s history in favor of something that might be a cool story. The only problem is Priest wrote this story as Black Panther (vol. 3) #50 when Kasper Cole shows up. Only Tchalla didnt take on the gangs himself, he used Kasper to do it, to redeem himself.

I will say I appreciate that they haven't let T'Challa languish. They keep trotting him out in different versions and ways. I think they keep missing the essence of character. Marvel tends to like destroying their heroes for the sake of story. I hope they know what they are doing with T'Challa, but I have a feeling that they don't.


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