I’ve been aware of the hero ‘The Black Panther’ for some time since diving into the world of Marvel. There were many rumours of him breaking into the Cinematic Universe, and it appears that they very much intend to introduce him into the fray at some point. Given the stature of this character and how he’s supposedly eventually going to be making a big screen appearance I thought It was about time I got acquainted with the character because to be honest I knew nothing about him other than he was based in Africa.
As part of my Marvel Graphic Novel collection I subscribe to I received a collection of volumes 1-6 of the story arc ‘Who is the Black Panther?’ Well what better way to introduce myself to his lore than read an origin arc of him.
It starts of giving a historical lesson on Wakanda and the Wakandan tribe. We see a rival tribe attempt to break the borders of Wakanda only to be killed in gruesome traps that the rival tribe are completely clueless to their creation or origin, and then a barrage of arrows raining down, with one sole survivor of the rival tribe he’s warmed to “Tell your tribe….Tell Everyone” This happens in ‘5th Century AD’ It’s a brief introduction to show how far advanced Wakanda is over other tribes in Africa, It then goes on to detail attempted and failed attempts of explorers trying to break the Wakanda boarder years and years ago when white ethnic background explorers try to invade and capture new land. Once again an example of just how far advanced Wakanda is in the fact that while the white invaders are readying a spin barrel machine gun on wheels, Panther defends his borders with an odd shaped robot that obliterates the invaders.
So there’s my first lesson, Wakanda and the Wakandan tribe are very very clever and very ahead of everyone at the time in terms of technology.
After the history lesson we are informed that Wakanda has a no fly zone in place and even the USA are not granted authority to enter their air space, a quick too and fro conversation and we’re treated to a rather awesome tidbit that even the First Avenger himself Captain America was defeated at the hands of Black Panther.
Further into the novel and we’re finally introduced to ‘the bad guy’ A rather suspicious looking fellow who goes by the name of Klaw and has a hand that resembles something from Inspector Gadget.
Back to Wakanda and another part of the Black Panther folk lore I learnt from this graphic novel is that The Black Panther has to fight challengers from the Wakanda tribe once a year, if they win, they take the throne. A direct quote from the novel being “So as royal lineages go, It’s a more of a meritocracy than, say, England.”
Well that’s the brief introduction over into the lore and history of the Panther, from then on we’re more acquainted with Klaw and his army of evil henchmen who he hires to invade Wakanda and kill the Black Panther. He has his reason’s to but i shan’t give the plot away in this write up. Let’s say they are relatively justified. Added bonus information, The Rhino is a villain in this story arc too.
The further you go into the novel the more you learn about the Wakandan technology and just how far advanced they are from the rest of the civilized world. They sit on billions worth of resources but fail to sell them abroad and don’t depend on the resource that much themselves. In terms of technology they are right up with Stark Industries, if you were to talk about medicinal break through’s… well they’ve cured cancer.
I have to say given that I knew nothing about Wakanda or the Black Panther before reading, I was really surprised to learn that he and Wakanda were that modern. I was just under the impression he was some warrior that had a tribe, but was called upon to help nations out. I didn’t expect to learn that Wakanda was in fact a super power itself and that the rest of the world are all practically envious at just how advanced they really are.
In terms of him as a character, I think it’s pretty awesome that technically he actually doesn’t have a super power so to speak. He’s not a scientific experiment gone right or wrong, He’s not got a billion dollar suit, he’s not a god (okay he is a god to the Wakandan tribe, but not a god akin to Thor). He’s just a warrior that has unbelievable strength and experience. Again to quote directly from the comic “I am a man, god works through me, the same as you, there is no feat I achieve that you are not capable of.”
On a whole I’ve grown to like the character a lot, And am really fascinated with the idea of an African tribe being a world super power. I’d like to read more of his arcs. From reviews I’ve read the arc I’m writing about now hasn’t received all that much praise when compared to other Black Panther arcs, So in that respect given that I actually quite enjoyed this introduction, I’m quite looking forward to reading more of him. My one slight dislike for this arc has to be the villains though, I just really couldn’t buy into them ever being a threat to Wakanda or Panther. Comics aren’t meant to be real, they are meant to be a means to escape and imagine possibilities, but the villains that were imagined for this arc were just perhaps a bit silly. As a bit of a newbie to the comic universe I’m unaware if the villains here are featured in other character arcs, or just created for Panther (other than Rhino of course). So that’s my only criticism of “Who is the Black Panther” is the villains being too unbelievable. But hey like I said I’m new to the comic universe. Perhaps I’ll find them in other arcs and learn to like them, which would only mean I’d like this collection more.