Black Panther was one of the four series that launched the Marvel Knights imprint (the most famous of the bunch being Daredevil). Written by Christopher Priest, this series would go on to receive considerable acclaim, telling some of the greatest, or at least most distinctive, Black Panther stories ever, according to critics. It’s too soon for me to verify that claim, but issue #1 gets off to a compelling start.
We learn about the Black Panther, King T’Challa of Wakanda, through the eyes of an ordinary State Department employee. This guy, Everett Ross, is tasked with accompanying T’Challa during the latter’s visit to the United States to investigate a scandal involving one of his charities. Ross describes his Panther-related misadventures to his boss, but he does so out of sequential order—a fun narrative trick that tells us early on this isn’t going to be your typical comic book series.
Ross’s immaturity, as well as his general state of being in over his head, makes him a great foil for the stoic, dignified Black Panther, even though they so far have little direct interaction on the page. Ross not only contributes a sense of humor to the book, but his shortcomings help enhance T’Challa’s regal stature. A guy who basically belongs in a sitcom is our viewpoint character into the life of king who happens to also be an Avenger. It’s an inspired approach.
And the focus on Black Panther’s role as a foreign monarch is exactly right. That’s what sets him apart from his fellow Avengers and gives him a unique point of view and source of motivation.
I’ll have to continue reading.
Writer: Christopher Priest
Artist: Mark Texeira
Publisher: Marvel Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Black Panther by Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection Vol. 1
Appropriate For: ages 14 and up