Written by Reginald Hudlin
Drawn by Scot Eaton
Inked by Klaus Johnson
Published by Marvel Comics
Previously: X-MEN/BLACK PANTHER: WILD KINGDOM
This is the 2nd full series arc, which ran through Black Panther #10-13. The main premise is Black Panther teaming up with Luke Cage. It opens with a recap of Cage’s origin as we flashback to his days in prison and how he ended up in the experiment that transformed his body. I remember when this story was coming out I would read negative comments online from people who claimed that it didn’t make sense for Black Panther and Cage to be friends, because they “had nothing in common.” Some even trying to argue that it was “racist” to make them friends just because they were both Black superheroes (a tired argument that would resurface when BP and Storm got engaged). But right from the beginning Hudlin makes it believable that Cage would admire and look up to a man like Black Panther. So I had no problem with it. Flashing forward to the present day Cage is working one night as a bodyguard for P. Diddy and J.Lo (obviously not really them, but it was clear who the characters were standing in for) as they go to a nightclub in NYC. When they get there it turns out they’re not the only famous people at the club, as T’Challa is also there with his sister Shuri and his two Dora Milajea. T’Challa’s in America dealing with the aftermath of the attempted invasion of Wakanda from the first arc, but also he’s been tasked by his mother with the responsibility of finding a wife and having children. So we see him at the U.N. and meeting with the Secretary of State and also visiting Monica Lynne at one of her concerts, but she rejects his advances, reflecting on all the danger she faces from various supervillains during their previous engagement, and that she thinks he’s real true love is Storm. A fight breaks out at the club and T’Challa and Cage have to break it up.
I want to keep spoilers to a minimum, but I have to say that the only problem I have with the first issue is that at one in the club the P. Diddy character pulls out a gun and tries to shoot T’Challa, but Cage stands inbetween them and takes the hit. Even when I first read that issue I was thinking, hold up, this dude just tried to straight up murder a man, and not just any man but a foreign Head of State, in the middle of a club packed full of witnesses. That should be it for him, he’d be locked up in Guantanamo for the rest of his life, at best. That’s if the U.S. Government didn’t just allow him to be extradited to Wakanda where they’d behead his dumb ass. But the incident is just brushed off and that’s it.
Moving along, Black Panther and Cage end up in a building in Harlem being attacked by a horde of ninjas who are attempting to kidnap BP. Falcon also makes a brief appearance. It turns out that the ninjas were sent by Fu Manchu, although he’s called Han in this issue, for copyright reasons. Han has his own tantalizing offer to make BP, and Han’s son Shang-Chi also appears, just in time for more ninja-fighting and a fire-breathing dragon. Then Black Panther and Cage head down to Louisiana to do some charity work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and are greeted by Brother Voodoo and Blade who are in town to uncover a conspiracy of vampires. The 4 join up, with Black Panther calling in Monica Rambeau (Photon, Pulsar, Captain Marvel, etc.) to help them. I loved that part of the arc the most, because it was a perfectly natural way to get a group of superheroes together who all just happened to be Black, without all the accusations of it being “forced” that a certain subset of fandom always makes when it comes to non-White superheroes getting together. I totally wished they could have formed a “Black Avengers” team after this arc. I would have loved it.
Great story. With Scot Eaton joining the series as regular penciler and doing a fine job with the art. I thoroughly enjoyed it.