The upcoming Black Panther movie looks like it will be giving the Wakandan King some more mainstream love. Despite being one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and showcasing a detailed history in Marvel comics, not many know about the specifics. Audiences seem to know the basics about his character, but not so much about which stories of his are the best. However, many hardcore fans point to Christopher Priest’s 62-issue run on the character as a great starting point.
As someone who has always loved the character but never had the opportunity to read this series, I decided to pick up the first collection of Priest’s run. I’ve been loving Priest’s recent work on Deathstroke and Justice League. Black Panther is the character that brought him into the limelight for most comic book fans.
The first thing about his series that stood out to me was how sardonic Priest’s writing was. If you’ve been reading Deathstroke then it shouldn’t be surprising how much intelligent wit is thrown into the dialogue. It takes a satirical look at superheroes, politics, and American culture. While the humor could be classified as dry it certainly made me laugh out loud numerous times.
Priest is a talented writer who knows how to keep the action and pace moving with his comic series. Priest focused on making Black Panther both a superhero and a king. T’Challa is much more complex as he is conflicted with both his responsibilities as an Avenger and a leader. Not only did this revert Black Panther back to Stan Lee’s initial conception, but it allowed him to be in intriguing stories. He wasn’t just the black Avenger anymore; he became a much more three dimensional character. The storyline “Enemy of the State” displays that duality phenomenally.
While the comic is definitely part satire, it’s also a superhero action comic that shows the Wakandan King kick some serious ass and puts him in awesome circumstances. A stand out moment in my mind was the fight between T’Challa and Kraven the Hunter in issue six. All the artists featured in the collection do a fantastic job conveying movement and action. Mark Texeria in particular contributed a unique style that assisted Priest’s storytelling.
As someone who never read any of Black Panther’s run, this was a great jumping on point. It’s mix of commentary, satirical wit, and action kept me engaged as a reader. I absolutely recommend anyone who’s even remotely curious about the character to pick up this collection. It’s new-reader friendly and is a strong run for Black Panther. Hopefully the upcoming film will be borrowing from Priest’s fantastic work on the character.
The first collection collects issues #1-17 and is currently available at most comic stores and online.