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Flags of Our Fathers

Flags Of Our Fathers TPB

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Denys Cowan’s iPad Sketch of Black Panther


Denys Cowan: “My first drawing on the iPad. I didn’t know what I was going to draw until about a third into it. Crude but fun.”

This Week in Spandex
From SciFiPulse, written by Ian CullenI should note up front that Reginald Hudlin is a fantastic writer and I’d buy anything written by him. The quality of this issue not only reinforces my logic, but should inspire you to buy anything written by Hudlin.

Clearly inspired by “Flags of Our Fathers” by James Bradley with Ron Powers, this miniseries begins with an African-American solider narrating his experience in World War II and awesomely begins with him stating “I hate Nazis.” From this point, we learn that he was selected by Nick Fury to join the Howling Commandos because Fury had enough seniority in the military to pick anyone he wanted, regardless of their race. What makes this crucial to the story and further reinforces the respect I have for Hudlin is that he does not shy away from the issue of race. The narrator points out, while in a cargo plane flying over Africa, that he won’t be surprised if one of the white soldiers says something racist – someone does; it is also implied that there is little that he can do about it. The narrator also expresses surprise when Captain America sits down next to him for dinner. This is a valuable insight, because it shows that while the narrator is still aware of the racism the US Government allows to exist, he is still in awe of Captain America and the values he represents. And this is just a fraction of the story.

The main focus of the story is that the military is sending the Howling Commandos and Captain America to the African nation of Wakanda to find out why the Nazis want the nation. The US makes the same mistake that the Nazis make in that they assume that Wakanda is a “primitive” nation which can easily be taken over by an industrial nation. However, this mentality is quickly destroyed when Captain America lands and sees the decapitated heads of German soldiers on spikes. This also references Hudlin’s first run with the Black Panther when he establishes that no one invades Wakanda. Captain America quickly meets Black Panther and learns that Wakanda won’t submit to American ideology. In addition to Black Panther fighting Captain America to a stalemate, Black Panther makes two great statements.

After Captain America says “These are dangerous times. You need to choose a side.” The Black Panther states “We have. Our own.” As a fanboy, my response is to this is – Awesome. As a Graduate student, this is brilliant. So much of what’s written about World War II – regardless of its fiction or non-fiction – consistently ignores that many countries were in no way involved in World War II. It’s great to know that Wakanda is being presented as a nation that has decided to let other nations destroy themselves.

The other line that Black Panther gave that I loved was when he told Captain America that “in time, [he] will represent to [his] nation what the Black Panther represents to Wakanda.” I love discussions about national symbols. If you do to, check out Alex Ross’ Uncle Sam:

Beyond Hudlin’s story telling, I can’t imagine this issue without Cowan’s art. Cowan doesn’t just provide normal superhero images, but instead depicts a world on edge – where everything is either in motion or ready to move; an edginess that should be present in any war story.

Overall, this was a great story and I look forward to how the miniseries develops.

Comic Related – Hot Shot of the Week

Bill Gladman on the issue

I hate to admit that for the last few weeks there haven’t really been any comics that I picked up that I felt truly worthy of calling a “Hot Shot” book. True Blackest Night came to an end, and ended a little better than I thought it would, but at the same time it just really didn’t over whelm me in the process.

There has been a Realm of Kings tie-in a time or two and there have been some “good” books that came out, but nothing that defiantly stood out above the rest and shouted…”Hey look at me! Read me! Remember me!”

That changed this week with the release of Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers #1. This story takes place during World War II and right before the very first meeting between Captain America and Nick Fury. Of course this story has been told before and in many different ways, but I really liked how this went down in this book. Fury’s initial reaction to Cap is great and just one of many story telling elements added to this book to make it such an enjoyable read.

A good portion of the story is told in the words and through the eyes of Gabriel Jones one of SGT. Fury’s Howling Commandos. It explains how a black man got picked to be a part of Fury’s elite secret task force, and how Jones felt being the only black man on the squad. The book itself is written by Reginald Hudlin, no stranger to writing books with this type of racial theme. Hudlin as been associated with some of the best stories featuring several of Marvel’s black heroes including the Falcon, James Rhoades, and most notably the Black Panther.

The Commandos escort Captain America deep into Africa in an attempt to keep German Nazi’s from getting their greedy hands on Vibranium, a rare metal found in the jungle nation of Wakanda. The Nazis are lead by Baron Strucker (portrayed perfectly by Hudlin).

Elements of the back story of Wakanda laid out years ago while Hudlin was writing the Black Panther series come into play such as the fact the nation has never been successfully invaded by an outside foe and the first meeting between Captain America and the Black Panther (the WWII version of the black Panther was of course T’Chaka, father of T’Challa). The brief confrontation between these two characters was shown in a quick flashback scene in the Black Panther book years ago, and now we have the chance to see the entire story unravel for us.

This was a very well written book by a writer that has a great deal of respect for the past of all the characters involved, with beautiful art work by seasoned comic veterans Denys Cowan and Klaus Janson.

A very strong start to what promises to be a very well done four part limited series.