May 17, 2009

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Civil War: Black Panther

Written by Reginald Hudlin
Illustrated by Scott Eaton and a LOT of others
Marvel

Reggie Hudlin's Panther is frustrating. On the one hand, he's got the "Panther is always in control" part of things still nailed. Panther can get married, trot the globe, and fight with Cap, all while still managing his country and ready for seemingly anything.

That part is pretty cool.

What's not cool? Panther telling Storm, a Queen before she met him (Hudlin seems to have forgotten this), arguably the best leader the X-Men ever had, and (former?) head of the Morlocks that she has to be *subordinate to him* when he is making decisions. And unless Storm got a post-House of M lobotomy, this would and should have gotten him a lightning bolt in the nether regions. Then later, Panther tells the Black Widow he "never fights women" which hasn't been heard out of a Marvel character's mouth since about 1970. Oh, and with a battle raging, Storm and Sue Richards have to go find their men, because, you know, they're just not able to function without them.

GAH!!!!

Hudlin has taken one of the most forceful women in all of Marvel, second only to maybe Jean Grey, Emma Frost, or Sue, and turned her into a subordinate to her husband. Her family tells her to kick butt, but only until she's starting to have children. Because, after all, once a woman has kids, they should stay at home and lose their own identities.

Did I mention, GAH!!!!

I just can't get over the fact that Marvel has allowed Hudlin to turn Panther into a book that, while promoting one strong African American character, turns another into mush and makes all the women who show up look foolish and weak, whether it's Storm, Sue, Medusa, or the Black Widow. The mysogonistic comments are all over the place--Namor vows never to marry again, for instance, and everyone jibes Panther for not being able to keep Storm in check.

It's a shame, really, because I like the idea of Panther being truly feared by the rest of the Marvel U. After all, he's a guy who seems like he always is ready for anything, has one of the two best metals in Marvel, and keeps his nation safe from invasion. He also does the US reaction to Panther very well. After all, the country has never taken to a third world leader rising in power regionally very well--imagine if he had Vibranium, which is oil to the nth degree in terms of value?

Hudlin also did a great job of writing a crossover book. The story is woven into ongoing plotlines and things that would impact on Panther the most are what get featured. For that, the book gets at least a tolerable. Hudlin is great writing things that aren't women, basically. it's up to you to decide if that is too much to get over. For me, it almost was.

Final note is that the art is absolutely horrendous. Apparently, no one left in comics knows anything about a) finishing what they start (there's like 10 inkers on this thing) or b) anatomy and proportion. This is an increasingly annoying trend.


[Editor's note: That trend of an army of inkers is sadly only getting worse.--Rob]