As the title suggests, I'll be reading Christopher Priest's groundbreaking run on Marvel's Black Panther. I'll be specifically reading Black Panther vol. 3 issues 1-54.

Yes, I'm well aware that the comic lasted 62 issues and then was more or less spun off into The Crew, but starting with issue #55 the focus of Black Panther was shifted away from Ross and T'Challa and onto a new character that never appealed to me. The Crew realy wasn't much better except for the introduction of Josiah X, who has since been relegated to limbo essentially.

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Yes!

I thought about it when you proposed a new reading project for yourself (which became Walt Simonson's Thor) but I didn't say anything. (I've got plenty of unfinished discussions of my own.) I didn't read much of Priest's Black Panther but I was reading this discussion (summaries, too). 

Back on the old board, I started a "Black Panther" discussion which covered every appearance from his first appearance to the beginning of his series in Jungle Action. I took a break at that point but I always planned to return to it. Lately I've been thinking about it again, but I'd want to start over at the beginning and "hit the highlights" up to the McGreggor era.

Whereas I would like to see this discussion continued (someday), I don't want you to over-extend yourself. My suggestion: return to it after you finish your Thor discussion.

ClarkKent_DC said:

Yes!

The longer answer:

Yes, there is, at least by me. I have most of this run, but not all of the earliest ones. I agree with your assessment that the end of the run is marred by turning it away from tales of T'Challa, the Black Panther, into a cop show. If I want a cop show, I'll watch TV; there's lots of cop shows on TV.

When Christopher Priest wasn't wasting our time with Black Panther The Cop Show, he gave us the only run on Black Panther I ever cared about, because he presented him as a king. Even the Don McGregor run didn't capture the majesty of the man and the weight of the office. (And I never could believe other stories that had T'Challa living in Harlem as a schoolteacher or running around taking Daredevil's place. Stuff and nonsense, I say.)

Everett K. Ross as the point-of-view character was an interesting choice; clearly a dig at the liberal ally who nonetheless is casually racist in that he doesn't see people of color as equal and can't possibly see any as intelligent and accomplished. (Later in the run, T'Challa teaches Tony Stark this lesson, and I just loved it.)

ClarkKent_DC said:

The longer answer:

Yes, there is, at least by me. I have most of this run, but not all of the earliest ones. I agree with your assessment that the end of the run is marred by turning it away from tales of T'Challa, the Black Panther, into a cop show. If I want a cop show, I'll watch TV; there's lots of cop shows on TV.

Speaking of cop shows, I haven't been able to watch one since May 25. I just can't bring myself to do it.

For what it's worth, due to circumstances I'm no longer working and essentially retired. I would have the time and bandwidth for two concurrent projects.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Whereas I would like to see this discussion continued (someday), I don't want you to over-extend yourself. My suggestion: return to it after you finish your Thor discussion.

Black Panther #9

Enemy Of The State

Published: July 1999

Writer: Christopher Priest

Penciller: Mike Manley

Ross has been reassigned to a very cold place. In a bit of comedy, we see him struggling with using an outhouse and later attempting to open a can of food.

There’s a recap page showing T’Challa fighting some hoods in an ice cream truck. As the recap goes, T’Challa has discovered that Achebe has some support from within the US, and he wants to find out who. The truck had been spotted several times with radio waves emanating from it, and now T’Challa and the Dora Milaje are getting some answers. The Panther has also spotted one Sergey Andropov behind the wheel of the truck, and as Ross tells it, that’s when he lost his temper.

T’Challa attacks Sergey while the Dora Milaje takes care of his flunkies. He tells Andropov that he’s saving his life by jamming the destruct signal for the van. Achebe’s voice breaks in over the radio. He taunts T’Challa until Ramonda hits him on the back of his head. She tells T’Challa that things are not good in Wakanda currently, as the Wakandans dislike having two outsiders ruling their country. She tells him to be strong, and to call when he gets a chance. Sergey asks what he must do to live, and T’Challa tells him to hope that the air bags are working. It appears as if he’s going to tow away the ice cream truck through the air.

Back in Wakanda, Achebe is pissed but Ramonda tells him to put a sock in it. She tells him that his obsession with T'Challa is threatening their gambit. If T’Challa has discovered Andropov, it means he has the link to trace things back to them. She leaves, but Achebe is undaunted and continues his own nefarious plans.

At a New York police station, the cops are interrogating Monica Lynne. She’s in an understandably surly mood as she’s being treated as the suspect in this and not the victim. She asks about a stranger in the room that she refers to as mystery date, a guy who obviously isn’t a cop. She tells them that someone is pulling their strings and that they already know who set her up. Mystery Date introduces himself as Danny Vincent, a New York writer. He says he’s nobody special, and that the interrogation is over.

T’Challa has gone to see a man named Dzhokhar Gapon, who runs the Russian mafia out of a small deli. Gapon answers the phone and asks who it is. The voice says it’s a man with a truck. It then tells Gapon to duck, and then the Panther’s airship begins shooting through the window. Gapon tries to tell him that sometimes these things must happen, but T’Challa is unimpressed by his arguments. He tells Gapon that the people he is attempting to protect are on their way to kill him, and he has a choice.

Monica is walking home through the rain, reminiscing about her prior engagement to T’Challa, when she’s approached by Hunter of the Hatut Zeraze. He offers her a ride, and she tells him that for her to get into his limo she needs two things: He needs to take her to T’Challa, and she needs to know who Danny Vincent is.

We cut to the penthouse of one Jack Taylor. Apparently he’s a spook, of the highest order. T’Challa launches the ice cream truck through his window. The crash brings people running, but when they look inside the wreckage of the truck, they find it empty. Then T’Challa and the Dora Milaje burst throught he door, easily dealing with the assembled goons. T’Challa accuses Taylor of fomenting the coup in Wakanda. He kidnaps Taylor while laying out his plan and telling him where he went wrong. He lets Taylor know that his life is pretty much over unless he cooperates.

Captain America is working out, troubled by the evening’s revelations. After all, he trusted T’Challa, and finding out that T’Challa joined the avengers to spy on them must have rankled him.

His thoughts are interrupted as something falls to the floor by his feet. Picking it up, he sees it’s a circuit board of some sort. T’Challa drops down from the skylight and asks Cap for information on where it came from. Steve won’t tell him but the Panther accuses the US of helping overthrow his government. Cap tells him that if what he suspects is true, he’ll take them down himself. He asks for proof, but T’Challa has none. They leave for Avengers Mansion to pick up the rest of the Panther’s people. Cap offers the help of the Avengers, but T’Challa lays out a good argument for why this is a matter he needs to handle by himself.

At Avengers Mansion, Thor and Zuri are arm wrestling. Thor keeps beating him, but they’re clearly enjoying each others company. Zuri attempts to lift the hammer with no success. T’Challa and Cap enter and Panther asks Zuri and Ross to come with him. Iron Man then stops him and asks about the night’s events, including throwing the truck through Taylor’ penthouse. T’Challa tells him that it’s true and that it’s a matter of Wakandan National Security. Stark attempts to confront him, but T’Challa tells him that factions of the US government have helped destabilize his country and that until that issue is resolved, he has to work without the Avengers’ help.

My Rating: 8/10

Picking this back up after a couple of years is interesting, as I’m a little rusty. Still, let’s trudge onward.

This particular issue is very, very wordy, but it’s not boring. There’s a good job juxtaposing the dialogue against the action so it never gets bogged down despite the fairly heavy duty political discussions going on.

As I said, it’s been a while since I read this, so I’m not sure if it was revealed before or not, but I like the idea that Ramonda thinks she’s the brains of this coup. One of the things that really makes this all work is how intricately woven it all is and who’s working on what angle.

As a side note, something that I haven’t sen used often is the idea of Thor creating a rain storm to disperse a crowd. It’s a nice touch for certain situations and I wonder why it isn’t used more frequently.

The characters here all have a fair amount of attitude, and it works well in my opinion. Also the scene with Zuri and Thor arm wrestling was hilarious.

The artwork still isn’t great, but it’s better. Manley’s style is a little cartoonish, but his line work is pretty solid. However, the artwork still seems dark and murky. Since Manley was also the inker, I want to lay the blame at his feet, but given the problems with previous issues, I’m wondering if the problem is elsewhere on the line.

I believe that it was Stan Lee who established that Thor can create rains by hitting the ground with the pommel of Mjolnir's handle twice in rapid succession, and stop them by doing the same thing four times instead of two.

Later writers seem to have largely forgotten those abilities.  While Thor still creates and stops rain often enough, the last time those specific enchantments have been used seems to be during Thor's fight against Orka in Avengers #149, back in 1976.

Frank Miller used Thor's rain-making abilities to good order in the Daredevil: Born Again story. After Mike's attack on Hell's Kitchen Thor used rain to put out fires and (IIRC) get the crowd to disperse. 

Luis Olavo de Moura Dantas said:

I believe that it was Stan Lee who established that Thor can create rains by hitting the ground with the pommel of Mjolnir's handle twice in rapid succession, and stop them by doing the same thing four times instead of two.

Later writers seem to have largely forgotten those abilities.  While Thor still creates and stops rain often enough, the last time those specific enchantments have been used seems to be during Thor's fight against Orka in Avengers #149, back in 1976.

To further clarify, I'll also be taking much more time between updates to facilitate discussion. I'd just as soon not end up talking to myself. 

Randy Jackson said:

For what it's worth, due to circumstances I'm no longer working and essentially retired. I would have the time and bandwidth for two concurrent projects.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Whereas I would like to see this discussion continued (someday), I don't want you to over-extend yourself. My suggestion: return to it after you finish your Thor discussion.

Black Panther #10

Enemy Of The State, Book Two

Published: August 1999

Writer: Christopher Priest

Penciller: Mike Manley

Achebe is talking with his puppet Daki. Daki seems to be leading the conversation, as they discuss Achebe’s coronation as kin of Wakanda. One problem they have is that they don’t have the access codes to the Prowlers—Ramonda has those.

T’Challa goes to Queens to hunt down Danny Vincent. Vincent is an agent for the LCL, or the Vulcan Domuyan Secret Service. He speaks to a small device that only speaks Spanish that he calls Ma. As he enters his car, he finds T’Challa in the back seat waiting for him. As Vincent had been involved int eh destabilization of Wakanda, the Panther isn’t particularly happy with him. T’Challa tells him that he’s not there to remonstrate against Vincent, but that he wants him to do some writing. He tells Vincent that the computer chips he traded his services for are going to fail, and that when that happens, there will be a price on his head. Vincent says he’ll think about playing ball. T’Challa leaves, but not before punching Vincent in the jaw. After T’Challa leaves, Danny has Ma scan the disc he was given for tracking devices.

In flashback, we learn how Hunter came to be associated with Wakanda. After surviving a plane crash, he was adopted by T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father. He was treated as the king’s son until T’Challa was born. We then see he was befriended by Ramonda, who also felt like an outsider in Wakanda. Back to the present, Monica Lynne asks him when she can see T’Challa. He tells her that the Panther is busy wreaking havoc. He tells her to change clothes, as they’re ready to go and see him. He tells her he welcomes the upcoming war.

Elsewhere, Ross is having a workout. He’s discussing the situation with Nikki when he’s grabbed by the Secret Service.

T’Challa is addressing the UN Security Council. He shows them photos of the men he picked up last issue. He says that he’s given them all political asylum, and that based on their testimony he has empirical evidence that the US conspired to destabilize Wakanda. He says it constitutes and act of war.

Ross is hauled before the president, who tells him he has 24 hours to get T’Challa to retract his statement, or he’ll be shipped off to parts unknown—or more specifically, Iceland.

Ross flies to New York with Nikki. While Ross complains about his current situation, we see in flashback that Nikki used to date T’Challa back in college. Ross tries to get Nikki to intercede on his behalf, but she tells him that he can handle it, because how hard could it be to keep him out of trouble for 24 hours?

T’Challa leaves the UN while being bombarded with questions from journalists. He finds Sgt. Tork waiting for him, apparently having watched his car. Tork lets him know that there are a number of Hatut Zeraze waiting for him.

In Wakanda, Ramonda is watching the news and feeling very tired. Achebe is spying on her, Achebe approaches her from behind and hits her over the head. He then begins looking for the access codes he wanted.

Back in New York, Hunter approaches. T’Challa asks him what he wants, and he tells him that he wants to go home. Monica appears, and Hunter tells T’Challa to command him and the Hatut

Zeraze.

Suddenly shots ring out, as several members of the Hatut Zeraze are shot. We see helicopters shooting at the Panther. T’Challa pushes Monica into the limo and tells the girl inside to get Monica to safety. Hunter presses T’Challa again to allow him to serve. T’Challa acquiesces.

Ross shows up just in time to be taken inside the limo. Sgt. Tork is loading his shotgun, and there’s a shootout.

In Wakanda, Achebe has found the codes. He’s not sure whether or not Ramonda is dead, but decides to activate the Prowlers, using them to terrorize the Wakandans.

My Rating: 8/10

The political intrigue here is quite interesting, and is emblematic of the entire run. There’s a lot of tension, and it’s interesting to see where the story is going to go.

I also liked seeing more about Hunter. He’s an interesting character, although I’m still not a fan of a continuity implant like this. Acknowledging that annoyance, not much is known about T’Challa’s early life, so I guess it’s not that bad.

There’s also some good humor here as well. Tork’s “white guys e” remark was pretty funny, as well as Ross’s predicament.

That said, there are some things I didn’t like from this issue:

* I think too much time is spent with Danny Vincent. I know he was one of Priest’s pet characters (he was also used in the Crew), but he’s just not that interesting.

* I dislike the idea that Nikki used to date T’Challa. It’s just too incestuous for my tastes.

The art is still muddy. Manley’s line is fine, so I guess it was just some poor choices in the inking and coloring..

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