Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #1
T'Challa trades the wilds of Wakanda for the urban jungle of Hell's Kitchen. *Cue the Guns & Roses!!!*
Really, really like this cover. The gossamer image of Daredevil is a very nice touch. Black Panther looks awesome on it and
makes me wish he had held on to his vibranium armor. The interior artwork by Francavilla's equally as strong. I'm a huge fan of his artwork on the Detective Comics Gordon backup feature and this is done in the same style. It strongly reminds of Mazzucchelli's work on Year One. Especially the design of Black Panther's new low tech suit.
We see T'Challa adjusting to his new life as Mr. Okonkwo (great things Fall Apart ref there) more so than we do his crime fighting activity. There's a lot of internal narration that helps us to dig into the mind of the man. The scenes with him interacting with the denizens of of his new stomping grounds are very well done. One particularly show stealing scene occurs between him and Storm. T'Challa feels he must be totally isolated from his old life in order to truly test himself. Their parting is short but well handled and makes for some truly touching stuff.
I like how we see T'Challa adjust to not having his powers, tech, and perks of his royal status. When he's in action you see him taking blows he otherwise would not have with his usual powers and abilities. And seeing him improvise with low tech alternatives is really cool. I get the feeling we're really going to see him shine as a strategist throughout this series.
I love the new villain Liss has come up with. A Romanian man named "Vlad The Impaler" could've gone down hill really, really fast. However, Liss really makes this guy interesting and intriguing. A lot of the issue's dedicated to introducing the audience to Vlad. And I must say it's time well spent. Much like with T'Challa we get a lot of internal narration from Vlad and it helps us to find some common ground with the guy. Vlad's is a very appealing villain. He's not just another would be inheritor of Wilson Fisk's empire, he's also a loving father and devoted husband. He's a man who'd just as soon tuck his son into bed and kiss him on the forehead as he would stuff a rival into a pine box and an unmarked grave.
When it comes to this class of villain Kingpin's always been my measuring rod, and I must say that I think Vlad's got what it takes to be the new King of New York. Vlad's ruthless, powerful, menacing, and intelligent. I like the way this guy carries himself; he's confident, classy, cool handed, and has a regal aire about himself. He should make a great foil for Black Panther in the future. I like the way this guy conducts business, he has no intention of letting another cape reenter the Kitchen. Vlad has seen the mistakes made by many other Kingpins and he aims to avoid them. Vlad declares he has no interest in having an arch nemesis and he fully intends to nip this problem in the bud immediately.
There's some pages dedicated to explaining exactly why T'Challa's here. We see Matt requesting that T'challa take over for him in Hell's Kitchen during his absence. I get that both men are on soul searching quests for redemption, but this exchange just didn't feel organic to me.
The way Foggy set's up T'challa is a bit to convenient. I mean this guy's on some CIA stuff with his document forging abilities
One of T'Challa's neighbors dies in this issue. I get that it's supposed to hit us emotionally and serve as motivation for our hero's crusade, but I don't think we got to know enough about the guy for his death to truly resonate with the audience.
This isn't a problem for me but a lot of the Dialog in this issue, especially Vlad's, is in broken English/dialect. I think it adds a bit of authenticity and flavor to the comic, but I can see how that would be off putting to some readers.
Buy this comic ASAP!!!!
Shadowland left a most unpleasant taste in my mouth after reading it, and I was very skeptical about T'Challa coming in. In fact I thought the idea was utterly asinine and senseless. That being said, this comic really won me over. It's a great read and if you're looking for a fresh new take on Black Panther, then this is definitely the place to be. This issue gives me hope that T'Challa's finally getting the title a character of his import to the Marvel Universe deserves.