MARVEL KNIGHTS: BLACK PANTHER (1998)

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Christopher Priest, aka Jim Owsley, aka the first black Marvel editor in history, takes over the character and truly is allowed to control how T’Challa is depicted in the Marvel line.  Aside from a brief appearance in Kurt Busiek’s “Avengers Forever” miniseries, Black Panther only appears here.

This is the definitive modern run on Black Panther—and probably the one best regarded among fans and critics.  It relied heavily on the best previous depictions of the character, Lee and Kirby’s work in Fantastic Four and Don MacGregor’s brilliant Jungle Action extended storylines.  And because it was a Marvel Knight book, it could take a darker, more pseudorealistic approach.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of of Mark Texeira’s art, but he left after issue #4.  The bad news is, the comic didn’t really have a regular series artist—and it suffered for it.  Priest wasn’t able to form a singlular style or clear voice.  But despite that, the book was quite rich, with a lot of great development of Wakanda as a country with a distinct culture.

It ran for sixty two issues, and ended with a direct seque into Priest’s new series, The Crew, featuring White Tiger.  As for Black Panther, he would struggle to find a voice again for several years, appearing only in The Avengers and as a guest in other peoples’ books (Iron Man, Hawkeye, etc.).  It wasn’t until 2005 that he got another series.  We’ll go there next.

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