Author Topic: Panthers' Paths: When and how did you become a fan?  (Read 2290 times)

Offline Rurouni KJS

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Panthers' Paths: When and how did you become a fan?
« on: June 21, 2016, 10:03:20 am »

I jumped onboard back in 1998, a few issues into Christopher Priest's run. Being a longtime comics reader, I was a little taken aback at this portrayal of Panther. Morphing costume? Gadgets? Energ knives? I'd never read a comic where he was this...I don't know...this Batman-like. But the writing was great and witty and challenging and the art looked super, too.

It took me a few weeks to track down issue 1 of this series to read this page:

More than any other, this art and this text made me a Panther fan. And I hung in with that series even though it was really messing with my idea of who Black Panther was.

you see, my first exposure to T'Challa was his entry in the classic 1985 Marvel Handbook Deluxe Edition. Even as a callow youth, I noticed this bit of shade:

he was NEARLY peak human level...just BELOW Captain America, who could lift 800 pounds. Uh....why?

Subsequent exposures to the occasional Jungle Action story or Don McGregor piece only reinforced this view of Panther as a great hero who struggled through great adversity in every fight he ever had. It made for gripping drama, true. But I'd never read the story introducing T'Challa to the Marvel Universe, in which he makes the Fantastic Four look silly, solo.

Like CJP has said: People forgot who Panther was.

When Hudlin began his run, I HATED IT. Straight up.
  • it lacked all the subtlety of Priest's take, making his BP seem like the Mary Sue/Gary Stu some have accused him of.
    it jettisoned all the nice continuity CJP had set up
    it dumped on basic Marvel continuity, outright changing characters' origins and even ethnicity [Radioactive Man is Chinese, not Russian! Even RH be whitewashing the Asian characters]
    the whole tone Like a hip hop version in place of the polyrhythmic symphony that was the previous run.
    most of all, I could not STAND Shuri. I was like, "Who is this? Who IS this? T'Challa doesn't have a kid sister? He doesn't NEED a sister! And who does she think she is, trying to compete with him to be Black Panther???"
    I almost immediately thought: "This brat is going to be Black Panther someday. PFAUGH!"
I skipped most of this run, especially once he got rushed into the marriage with Storm. While I thought the idea of them as a couple was cute, I also thought it was inorganic as was so much else in RH's take. And then once my fear of Shuri-Panther came true and then I heard of the whole Doomwar thing, and then of him essentially exiled to be, I was just DONE at this point.

'Course, I was also just missing Priest.

So what brought me back to being the ride-or-die Panther fan I am now?

Ironically, it was John Hickman by way of Brian Michael Bendis.

One of my favorite moments of the latter's writing was as the start of the Illuminati storyline in 2006, where T'Challa is the one guy in the room wise enough to say: "This is a bad idea, folks." Fast forward to 2013's New Avengers no. 1, where he's now essentially leading the Illuminati. I was beyond intrigued, especially with him working with the guy who'd flooded Wakanda, Namor. T'Challa was also back in the garb of the Panther and in his proper place as...well, something of Wakanda, not off living in a NYC neighborhood. I also knew that Hickman delivered payoff to his very slow burning stories, so I was willing to hang in to the end.

I didn't think the end was going to be of the whole Marvel Universe, though.

But nothing in this story actually diminished T'Challa in my eyes. [Well, except maybe that one crying scene. That needed to be righteous anger instead...because he was RIGHT.] And I got my payoff when the one man who was wise enough to walk away from the original Illuminati but not too proud to gather it again to face a huge threat is the one man who can actually wield the Infinity Gauntlet against a Doom more powerful than any baddie in MU history...the only one who doesn't get absolutely chumped...and he does it in service to his master plan in classic Panther style.

T'Challa is the Black Panther. Not Shuri. Though she endeared herself to me by the end, so that I'm intrigued to see how/if she'll come back in Coates' run, whose end quality remains to be seen.

I'm also in the process of reading the Liss run, which is turning out stronger than I'd thought. And I also just read McGregor's "Panther's Prey," which was just kinda bad.

I wonder what others' paths to Panther fandom was like. I assume that most here were drawn in by the Hudlin series. Did he change how you saw T'Challa? Or were you a fan of Lee and Kirby's original take? Is "your" Panther the Roy Thomas or Don McGregor interpretation? Are you a Hickmanite?

Please share!


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Re: Panthers' Paths: When and how did you become a fan?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2016, 12:44:48 pm »
My first exposure was Avengers 165, by Shooter and Byrne.  The character impressed so much I made my own kid version, but I didn't really know anything about BP. 

Offline Metro

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Re: Panthers' Paths: When and how did you become a fan?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2016, 04:36:45 pm »
I also came to Panther under Priest ... #11, iirc. Liked it, loved when my initials showed up as part of a market ticker showing the economic manipulations of the Killmonger arc. Went back and read "The Client" tpb - the nonlinear style hooked me permanently.

RH was solid for me, especially with the connections that developed the Animated Series and inspired McDuffie's version of the FF.

Been a Wakandan Ambassador since the 100-page monster under Priest. (#36?)
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Offline Salustrade

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Re: Panthers' Paths: When and how did you become a fan?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2016, 05:11:59 pm »
My first introduction to T'Challa was via Don McGregor's Jungle Action.

I liked what I read at that young age and developed an appreciation for the character that was rekindled by Priest and further reinforced by Reginald Hudlin.

I enjoyed David Liss's take on T'Challa as well.

Offline JRCarter

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Re: Panthers' Paths: When and how did you become a fan?
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2016, 05:21:06 pm »
My first introduction to BP was an old card game with Marvel Comics characters. Then a reprint of Fantastic Four #52. Then, after a few years, the Priest era.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2016, 06:16:37 pm by JRCarter »