Tag Archives: Christopher Priest

Today’s Super Comic — Black Panther #8 (1999)

Flexibility with continuity can be a good thing when done right, especially when characters are appearing in stories over the course of multiple decades. What made sense in the 1960s may not make as much sense by late 1990s, such as a sovereign monarch choosing to join an American superhero team.

Black Panther #8, which features Avengers guest stars and flashbacks inspired by the classic 1968 Captain America #100, makes sense of T’Challa’s counterintuitive decision to leave his throne to gallivant as a superhero, and it does so by adding context and motivation that rightfully put the Black Panther’s monarchial role in the forefront. (I’m about to spoil it.)

So back in Captain America #100, Cap was so impressed by the Panther that he invited him to join the Avengers. T’Challa accepted, and thus began the Wakandan king’s American adventures. In the fast-paced, make-it-up-as-you-go style of 1960s Marvel Comics…sure, why not? But in 1999’s Black Panther #8, writer Christopher Priest considers that moment with the benefit of hindsight and takes a more modern approach.

The Avengers were relatively new at the time—an autonomous, unsupervised, unregulated group of powerful individuals claiming to have everyone’s best interests in mind. But Wakanda already had a history of unwanted and destructive foreign interference, so how could T’Challa be certain the Avengers wouldn’t pose a threat to his nation? And here he had an opportunity to infiltrate their ranks and take their measure firsthand. Thus, he joined the Avengers thinking first and foremost of his nation’s security.

Sometimes, retroactive tweaks to continuity (retcons) wind up convoluting the backstory or muddying things up, but this is an example of a retcon that enriches and deepens what came before while creating tension for present stories. The revelation is true to the character and therefore credible. Exactly how to do it right.

Writer: Christopher Priest

Pencilers: Joe Jusko and Amanda Connor

Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti

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

Today’s Super Comic — Black Panther #1 (1998)

I’ve been meaning to read this series for years. About time I got around to it.

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