Black Panther #15 Review
The task given to Reginald Hudlin with these issues of Black Panther is a very difficult one – he has to convince people that a marriage between Storm and T’Challa makes sense, and at the same time, make sure not to denigrate either character in service of the plot. I think he got off to a good start last issue with the first part of “Bride of the Panther,” and I think he did an even better job with this one (although I suspect my pal Loren would disagree).
What’s even funnier than Hudlin’s abuse of continuity is this issue, where he attempts to address some of his “mistakes.” It’s really a bad idea, as he’s not going to win over any of the fans who hate his work because of the lack of continuity, and for the fans who don’t care, it just leads to dorky comments like when he explains how the Black Knight in the first story arc is a totally different Black Knight than the one we are familiar with. Of course, at the same time, Hudlin manages to make the continuity confusing AGAIN, as I’m still not sure exactly when the first storyline was set – Black Panther Year One or present-day. It makes a LOT more sense “Year One” (like, so much more sense that it is astonishing how much more sense it makes), but from this issue, it does not appear as though that’s how he’s handling it. Basically, I don’t think Hudlin himself really knows the deal – which is pretty weird.
In any event, this issue introduces the new Arabian Knight (which, for a second, I thought was an acknowledgment that the old Arabian Knight died in Thunderbolts – which would have blown my mind if this book was actually acknowledging THUNDERBOLTS continuity!!), which I think was a good idea, in that it allowed for some super-villain action to break up the main plot, which is just T’Challa and Ororo discussing their relationship. I thought Hudlin handled it well, especially as T’Challa and Ororo continue their discussion even while beating Arabian Knight pretty handedly. Funny stuff.
This is an issue built on character interaction, so expressions are very important. Luckily, Scot Eaton came ready to play, as he does a very impressive job on the expressions of each character, even minor background characters. Eaton is definitely putting a lot of effort into this book, and it is nice to see (Klaus Janson as an inker sure doesn’t hurt either). In addition, while he has the expressive style that Alan Davis has in spades (man, Alan Davis rules), I was glad to see Eaton move a little bit away from the Davis-style that, in the past, it almost appeared like Eaton’s work was “Davis-lite.” I suppose Janson might have some impact upon that, but I'd prefer to give the credit to Eaton.
The cover by Yu is excellent, by the way.
In any event – does Hudlin sell the relationship? I say yes. He sells T’Challa as a man who has always loved Storm for years, and Storm as a woman who probably loves T’Challa as well, but more importantly, as a woman who understands her role as T’Challa’s wife, and how that role is important enough for her to accept the proposal, even if she DIDN’T truly love him. However, I believe she does love T’Challa. There is also an interesting (off-panel) sex scene that was pretty amusing. Good work by Hudlin there. Finally, there is a neat bit with T’Challa’s mother discussing the relationship between Storm and T’Challa – this bit, more so than any other, really did the best job of solidifying the relationship. To hear from T’Challa that he has always cared for her is ONE thing, but to hear from T’Challa’s MOTHER the same? That’s big. Nicely turned by Hudlin.
So I would recommend this comic, with the reservation that, if you don’t care about this Storm/Black Panther thing at all, it probably would fall a bit flat to you.