Thursday, April 9, 2009

REVIEW :: New Black Panther Series (So Far)

I haven’t been thrilled with Marvel’s Black Panther title since writer Reginald Hudlin took over the comic a few years ago.

Although, to be fair, I probably wouldn’t have been happy with the work of any writer who followed up Christopher Priest’s run on the Panther’s solo series.

For those who never had a chance to read the Priest-helmed Black Panther, let me just say it was brilliant. I would even dare to say that it was “Alan Moore/Neil Gaiman good.” Yeah — THAT good.

During that series, which ran for more than 80 issues (I think), the Panther was remade from a sometimes-bumbling supporting character into an enigmatic, powerful and ultra-competent leading man.

Then along came Hudlin … who basically took Priest’s revitalized Panther and wrote a few lackluster stories based around the cat-tastic hero. Which brings us to the latest issue of Black Panther. I like it.

Yeah I know I just bashed the guy’s work on the book. But since the series was relaunched with a new No. 1 three months ago, setting the stage for a new female Panther, things have improved.
Hudlin has assembled a great cast of characters, and he’s given them some interesting conflicts to resolve. The dialogue is crisp and witty — yet still in character. And the mystery surrounding the new lady Panther is surprisingly intriguing and doesn’t seem as contrived as I initially feared.

Another great, well probably the best, aspect of the new Panther series is the art by Ken Lashley. Where did this guy come from? While not perfect, his work is lush, yet lightly stylized; it strangely seems to marry the best elements of Jim Lee and Keith Pollard. I hope he sticks around a while.

And speaking of sticking around, I’ll do just that for this new iteration of the Black Panther. Let’s hope it takes a while to start sucking.

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