Saturday, 15 August 2009

Flip The Page Review: Black Panther #7

Wow, so I finally got around to reviewing this, a week and a half after I ACTUALLY WANTED TO. Still I loved this series' opening arc and still have great enthusiasm for reviewing this, so here's a belated and pointless crack at BLACK PANTHER #7 by Jonathan Maberry, Reginald Hudlin & Will Conrad!


Prior to this renumbering/reboot I had little to no interest in Black Panther save the Civil War and Secret Invasion storylines, brushing it off as a cult thing or some such. That all changed with the first arc of this iteration of Black Panther however, with some genuinely clever choices in writing. Taking T'challa out of the picture and giving someone else a new struggle (in this case his sister Shuri), accepting and being accepted as the Black Panther... You just wouldn't imagine it ever being done, and the execution just makes it all the more amazing to the reader. This reboot worked by changing EVERYTHING.

The question here is "Is it still as good now the creative team's changed up?" and the answer is a resounding... Not really. It's still a good comic, but it's had so much taken away from it. But enough of me being vague and a poor critic, let's review this thing!

My first gripe is the art. Jumping from Ken Lashley to Will Conrad is a jarring process. I mean to say nothing bad of Conrad, who is in fact a pretty good artist, but Lashley was the PERFECT artist for the job. With Conrad you still get some great action and emotive scenes sure, but you also get some fucked up faces and small flaws that make you feel kind of sad. So still good, but not AS good, and that hurts.

The writing is problematic. This issue is apparently Hudlin handing over to Maberry but however I read this it seems like Hudlin wasn't involved at all. All that occurred and developed Shuri in the first 6 issues suddenly seems inconsequential and she's become a self-assured snark like any other 'important public persona' hero. But then this didn't have much time to enter her head this issue so it could just be how it seems.

Now we're past that ON WITH THE MOMENTS!

1. Heartfelt Off The Bat

There's something great about opening on something that actually MATTERS, or isn't just a continuation of some lame cliffhanger like most comics tend to be (yes, even at the start of new arcs). In this case we get a bit of fallout from the first arc combined with a look at T'challa's humanity. It's just a small piece of him looking sad at graves whilst in a wheelchair, but it works enough to remind you he's not just an overhyped guy who used to wear a black suit.


Another case of rejecting standard comic junk is this one page spread (where there'd normally be a two page ya see. Marvel ain't inventive). But that's not important. This is an almost iconic image, a new ruler before her people, showing they can overcome the tragedy that just recently plagued them. Powerful stuff. Though I am tempted to moan about how I preferred Shuri when she was all pathetic and less overconfident. Wait, I'm pretty sure I brought that up earlier anyway... I'll leave now.

3. Obam-again

Okay so this is technically an Obama cameo that makes some sense but still, OVEREXPOSURE MUCH?! That and the expression on Shuri JUST below the panel in question scares the shit out of me. Still a moment's a moment and people would buy it for this, so [/gripe]

4. Wait, didn't the Thunderbolts do this sorta thing YEARS ago?

Seriously, this is the highlight emotive moment of the whole thing, showing the struggle T'challa has to go through, his intent on his poor state of health not holding him back... I mean... WOW. AND YET I CAN'T SHAKE THE FACT THAT THIS STUFF WAS BETTER WHEN JOLT WAS DOING IT BACK IN THUNDERBOLTS YEARS AGO! Can't find a scan of it sadly so take my word at face value. Great moment, done better by someone else. That or I cared more then... Ya know what let's just pretend we never had this conversation.

5. The Black Panther's FUCKING AWESOME

What? She is!

6. T'challa: Still Pimping After All These Years

So more of his lady people appear for some purpose... I don't really care that much in the end, this issue was weak and didn't leave me wanting. But T'CHALLA IS THE BOOM KING! He gets all the ladies!

And that's issue 7 of Black Panther. It's by no means bad, just incredibly weak by the standards of this new iteration. I'll still check it out next month and probably for long after that, but I can't honestly say it'll ever match those first 6 issues.

With that all in mind, here's the rating:


Next up: Incredible Hercules #132

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