Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Black Panther, the Man Without Fear (of repeating this gimmick again)


Daredevil is being replaced by the Black Panther. After the events of Shadowland (where DD has been corrupted while being Leader of the Ninja Cult "The Hand"), it looks like Daredevil will take a short leave while the Black Panther takes over protecting Hell's Kitchen in his place.

This seems really, really stupid. Not that I don't like the Black Panther - but he seems like such an odd choice to be running around Hell's Kitchen. He's a King, for crying out loud - what kind of plot device is causing him to loose favor in his own country and force him to hang out in Hell's Kitchen? I know his sister has recently taken over the mantle of the the Black Panther - but does that mean he can't stick around there? And what about his wife - Storm? They both have separate super-hero jobs, but if he was in trouble, wouldn't she be by his side?

The way I see it, Marvel is just trying to repeat the success they had when Hercules took over the Incredible Hulk's book. There was a decent amount of build-up to the change-over -- but, the most important factor in why that stunt was successful was because the book was written darn well. "Best Book at Marvel"-level well. So this street-level Black Panther better have that same level of writing if it wants to succeed.

Yet what irritates me most about this change is that a Street-Level Black Panther has been done before! Anyone remember this guy, Kasper Cole?


Years ago the Black Panther title was written by the supremely (I wish he'd come back to comics) talented Christopher Priest. He was under appreciated as a writer at Marvel (and even by some fans) who kept pegging him as black writer - and was thus marginalized by being given mostly black characters to write.

When the book was in trouble after 49 issues, it was on the verge of cancelation. So Priest came back with a new Black Panther who would tackle the Streets - and who would hopefully be more relatable to fans. The Peter Parker-esq Kasper Cole was a police offer trying to support his family - and ran into the Black Panther costume. He used it to clean up the streets - and was eventually recruited by the real Black Panther to be his protege. He was given the same powers as the Black Panther. This Street-Level black Panther was actually very cool - and I would have liked to have seen more of him. The character change didn't prove successful, though - as the title was canceled. But Priest came back with his new team book "The Crew"


The Crew was an awesome series, ala the "Three Kings" movie - where you have these separate individuals, with their own goals, coming together. It starred Kasper Cole, now donning a White Tiger costume, the free-lance agent Junta, Jim Rhodes (War Machine), and Josiah X, the son of the Black Captain America.

White Tiger, Kasper Cole

Junta

War Machine

Josiah X

The series only lasted 7 issues, but they where darn good seven-issues. I wish the series had lasted longer, but there was little interest in what many fans called "The Urban Avengers". I wish more people had been able to look past their pre-conceived ideas and try out the series.

Anyway, after that - and the cancelation of Priest's "Captain America and the Falcon" title - he was due to write a Falcon solo-series, but he couldn't stand, as he put it "being sent back to the hood". He deserved more respect as a writer -- instead of pigeon-holing him as a black writer who could only write black characters. I haven't seen him in comics since then, and even his website and blog have gone into disarray. I sure wish he would come back, though. Maybe write his own stuff at another publisher.

Anyway (I trailed off point, there) it seems like Marvel wants to make the Black Panther a street-level drama again. Sure wish they had such an attitude back when Priest was writing. And as for taking over Daredevil's old stomping grounds? It better be well written -- fans are already pretty upset with Daredevil being shoved aside.

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