BLACK PANTHER: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION -- an African-American writer brings depth, political intrigue, and a complex backstory to the superhero's story
Black Panther: The Complete Collection by Christopher Priest (2015, Marvel; 416 pages)
Diversity in comics is still a work in progress, but a huge step forward was Marvel Comics’ introduction of the Black Panther in July of 1966. T’Challa, royal son of the fictional African country, Wakanda, took on the mantle of the Black Panther upon the death of his father, using mystical herbs and physical training to protect his nation, then later the world as a member of the Avengers. Black Panther was featured in a few short lived series, but was largely a supporting character who, though an important step toward bringing other races and cultures to graphic literature, still existed mainly as a flatly designed and stereotypical supporting character.
Approaching the 50th anniversary of his first appearance, Black Panther is receiving his first mainstream exposure, as a breakout character, played by Chadwick Boseman, in the smash hit film, Captain America: Civil War. The version of T’Challa in the movie is based heavily on a series written by Christopher Priest from 1998 – 2003. Priest, an African-American writer, added much needed depth to T’Challa, his background, and his country. Rather than just focusing on the Black Panther’s physical prowess in beating up supervillains, Priest added political intrigue, humor, and a complex backstory. T’Challa was a king, a superhero, and an Avenger, still. However, he was also highly educated, a diplomat, and a scientific genius. Wakanda, long shown just as an isolationist country with jungles and a mountain of Vibranium, was painted as an educated nation with a rich culture, burgeoning cities, and super technology made possible by the properties of the meteor-based metal that made the country a desired trading partner. Black Panther became more a Batman level character, and Priest used the series to delve into intricate plots dealing with history, family, and the rights of sovereign nations. He built a vibrant supporting cast and included long under-utilized African American characters to flesh out the stories. Next year, Black Panther will headline his own movie. Before then, reading the three volumes of this collection will set the stage well
Find this title in our catalog: Black Panther: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1
Recommended by: Robb