In part one, I detailed #9-5 of my Top 9 favorite Black Panther
tails tales. This week, the stunning conclusion is upon us!
As I mentioned last time, this list was originally a submission to The Greatest Black Panther Stories Ever Told contest on the Comics Should be Good! blog (see their top 10 choices for best BP stories).
As I also mentioned, my selections for #5-1 are all classic and almost all… old, one could even claim. Maybe I’m just a classic sort of guy, ya know? Or maybe — just maybe — the greatest T’Challa tales just happen to be in the earlier days of the character.
05. “The Client” – Black Panther v3 #1-5 (Christopher Priest left a HUGE mark on the Panther’s legacy, and it all began with this clever story arc. While I love Priest’s work, his BP stories — oddly enough — are not my favorite of his or of the character’s. But I think this is his best work with T’Challa, if only because it redefined the character for a modern audience and established an enduring status quo in terms of attitude and Wakandan culture.)
04. “Panther’s Rage” – Jungle Action #6-18 (Don McGregor, Rich Buckler, and Billy Graham created what I think is safe to call the most single riveting and intense Black Panther epic in the form of Panther’s Rage. It’s not as much fun as Kirby’s solo issues or as awe-inspiring as the Sons of the Serpent arc from Avengers, but it’s amazing in its sheer length of narrative — somewhere around 200 pages of continuous story, something which was basically unheard of at 70s Marvel. I know a lot of critics have espoused the virtues of this tale, as well as creators (Dwayne McDuffie, for example). Suffice to say I agree with them all. It’s awesome.)
03. “Black Panther vs. the Sons of the Serpent” – Avengers v1 #73-74 (Roy Thomas writes a masterful two-part Avengers tale with a focus on T’Challa and his battle against the supremacist group, the Sons of the Serpent. It’s one of the few BP stories that I feel successfully deals with discrimination and prejudice. However, more importantly, it’s expertly crafted and exciting from start to finish. The real clincher here is #73, with pencils by Frank Giacoia. Frank is best known as an inker, but his rare turn on superhero pencils is gorgeous. Need evidence? Look no further than page 18 of #73, where BP stalks New York City at night. It’s an incredible montage well ahead of its time in terms of tone and layout.)
02. “King Solomon’s Frog” – Black Panther v1 #1-4 (This is a bit easier to delineate than the “Water Skin” story arc if only because it has a more distinct conclusion. These four issues fill the first half of Marvel’s BP vol 1 TPB by Kirby. This arc comes second in my list of favorites because it displays the genius of Kirby’s original Panther concept, while taking things to the next level of action and excitement. While BP’s origin in FF #52 was fun, it wasn’t as thrilling as this. Before there was Indiana Jones, there was Jack Kirby’s Black Panther!)
01. “Quest for the Sacred Water Skin” – Black Panther v1 #5-7 (Sometimes it’s tough to draw lines between story arcs in 60s/70s Marvel, but I’ve decided to lump these three issues together as an arc because they deal with the over-arching theme of T’Challa’s quest to find the sacred water skin hidden in the secret City of Lost Samurai. These issues are included as the second half of Marvel’s BP vol 1 TPB by Kirby. Why my top choice? Because they’re simply amazing. The art, the writing, and everything about them makes for an incredible read. BP versus the Yeti. BP versus the ancient Samurai code. BP and Mister Little escape from a horde of enraged katana wielders! Too bad that few BP writers since this time have capitalized on the exciting tone Kirby displayed in this short story arc.)
That’s it! Hope you liked my choices. If not, write your own in the comments.
Be back here next week for the non-Top 9 start of something very special — Project: Basement!