This has certainly been a great month to be a Black Panther fan, hasn’t it? Between the Black Panther comics going strong and most importantly, the recently released film from Marvel Studios which has garnered well deserved critical praise and killer box office numbers. And the Black Panther train ain’t stopping anytime soon because for starters, Marvel has this annual issue of Black Panther which celebrates the past but look forward to the future with the help of past writers of the character such as the likes of Christopher Priest, Don McGregor and Reginald Hudlin.
The first story, “Back in Black,” is by Christopher Priest with art by Mike Perkins. However the story mostly concentrates on Everett K. Ross. Which I can only sum up as that it’d suck to be Ross because the guy despite moving on from superheroes, he gets sucked back in whatever business that involves T’Challa but gets more than he bargained for. The book concentrates on characters created by Priest for this story and as such, it can be seen as an extension of Priest’s own going he did for Marvel Knights around the late 90’s.
The story has a noir feel to it with great effect-helped the efforts of the artwork by Mike Perkins, who gave it a lot of shadows (and plenty of shading) and panels in trippy angles to give the idea of disorientation and the colors by Andy Troy do give it additional flair. The story definitely comes off as Priest wanting to step back into the world of Black Panther one more time after being away for so long. And it’s a good story. Like I said, it’s a very noir kind of story and fits in with the world of Black Panther.
Now in comes Don McGregor‘s tale, “Panther’s Heart.” Which can also be seen as an extension of his run from many years back in the 70’s when it was still called Jungle Action. It’s probably the most emotional of the three stories once you read on and also benefits from people familiar with McGregor’s issues because it does feature a notable character from his run. Who is it? Well, I can’t say given the character is a surprise for new readers or old readers who haven’t read his run for so long.
I will say it is an emotional story with the art by Daniel Acuna helping much. He nailed the emotional expressions on every character’s face and the writing by McGregor is not very over the top and definitely paced himself regarding what T’Challa is feeling throughout the book. It’s a solid story and probably the best among this Annual issue.
And finally, we have Reginald Hudlin‘s Back to the Future Part II and no, Doc Brown is not in this nor does it involve T’Challa time traveling and leaving a Sports Almanac in the hands of a maniac. Though the thought of Black Panther punching Biff Tannen is a nice thought.
No, instead, it’s a continuation of a particular story penned by Hudlin called, well, “Back to the Future.” In this story, we have an alternate timeline where T’Challa and Ororo Monroe a.k.a. Storm had not been divorced. And instead, because of their marriage, Wakanda grew stronger and became a powerful nation. So much had happened that it offers a variety of things that would be enough to tell an interesting set of comics in their own right like Spider-Gwen has.
We have an older T’Challa telling one of his grand children Grace about everything that had happened since his marriage to Storm. Dude took on Doctor Doom and Magneto and won. It’s all a fascinating look at a future that could have been and honestly, I’d love to see stories evolve from this simple story especially given the last page that had me wondering, “Wait, what the hell happened with that and how?”
The art by Ken Lashley is very good as are the colors by Matt Milla that drive the art home, it all looks good and compliments the writing well enough.
It’s a solid annual issue that celebrates past runs of the title character and if you’re looking for a Black Panther fix after seeing the movie, you won’t be disappointed-especially if you liked either writer’s take on the character.
Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review