Black Panther: The Potential of Patience

How is Black Panther an icon? Same thing with Wonder Woman…iconic without any storytelling substance. I can’t grasp that flimsy and ultimately foolish premise.

Black Panther has been around since the 60s and done (to quote Stupid Flanders) diddly-squat. Black Panther debuted in 1966; Spider-Man in 1962. Who’s had more impact on the culture?

Black Panther comics are typically awful or worse basic…they barely reach double digits before being cancelled. And what’s published is scant MUST Read volumes for comic book fans and casual readers. Even as an Avenger he’s accomplished little in many of the storylines he’s been in. It may not be fair to penalize Black Panther for weak storytelling but Wonder Woman suffers from the same issue. (Thankfully she was powerfully rescued by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang.)

Black Panther’s saviour was Jonathan Hickman who wrote a crazy cool Black Panther in Avengers and Fantastic Four. Hickman is the first writer to make the Black Panther engaging…not just the character but all the aspects that T’Challa brings to the table as a king of Wakanda an African nation. It’s impressive when you can inject new life into a sour one-note character. Geoff Johns achieved that with Aquaman in a brief but outstanding run; and of course the Gold Standard example will always be Peter David’s remarkable Hulk work. Unfortunately the writers who followed Johns’ Aquaman run couldn’t extend his standard of excellent much less build on it. And the same thing happened with Black Panther.

I know…it’s only 1 issue! It’s not fair however Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther doesn’t come close to Hickman’s dynamic writing. Maybe in trade it reads better? Maybe. For now…I’m dropping it. Is that harsh?

It Gets Better only applies to gay teens struggling in high school. Coates is clearly not a comic book writer…he is a good writer not a comic book writer. You want me to wait for him to tell his story AND figure out how to work the medium? Patience doesn’t always trump Potential. No Way. I’m out. It’s show business not show friends.

Having recently finished reading it in early December 2015 I enjoyed Between the World and Me…it’s a sobering reminder of how small the window is to really just enjoy being a child…being a kid. Once you experience racism…that first time…it radically alters your view of the world. The book is rude and practical, bold: highly recommended. Much like Hickman’s Marvel writing.

Epilogue: late 2016 I read Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet. I returned to Black Panther and it was still a struggle! I was right to drop it. I tried: e for effort and all that.


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Ziggy Was Here January 8, 1947 – January 10, 2016

Also published on Medium.

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