Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fantastic Four #608

So this is sort of interesting. I’m not sure what the goal of this little two-part story was, but Jonathan Hickman has essentially brought T’Challa back to the Black Panther role without removing his sister Shuri, the current Black Panther.

Now, I’m such a BP fan that I’ve basically avoided reading any and all Shuri as BP stories. I’m a purist; I want T’Challa wearing the uniform. And in fact, many creators at Marvel seem to agree since they show T’Challa still serving in the role Hickman’s approach fixes that. T’Challa will now be the Black Panther of Legend, or something, channeling the experience and fighting abilities of all the Panthers that have gone before him. (Note that if he’s also getting their strength, he is actually going to be super-human now!). Shuri will continue being the Black Panther of the Living, getting her powers from the heart-shaped root per the classic origin. I suppose that’s fine, as long as I can just keep reading about the real BP. I do wonder if this is a long-term plan for Black Panther to serve on Hickman’s Marvel NOW Avengers.

There are a few elements that I’m less certain about in the story. First of all, tying BP’s return to power to the AvX makes sense, considering how devastated Wakanda is in that series. That said, I always liked the Panther off on his own, basically running this one corner of the world perfectly. I’m also fuzzy on the inclusion of Egyptian deities into the history of Wakanda. Have we had clues in the past that the Panther God is really Bast, of Egyptian fame? That just seems a tad odd. Again, I liked the Panther God as its own thing, a totem of power for this Marvel-specific country.

The FF mainly observe in this story, and the resolution has very little to do with any of our protagonists. This whole thing is a set up for Bast to get T’Challa ready to help inspire Wakanda after Namor screws it up during AvX.

Giuseppe Camuncoli’s art is always a treat. His lantern-jawed heroes tend to do better with a lot of action, and this issue is a bit talky, but everything is still clear. Seeing his take on the classic, capes & stripes Black Panther uniform really makes me wish we were seeing a bit more his take.


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