Black Panther Annual #1
Writer: Christopher Priest, Don McGregor, Reginald Hudlin
Artist: Mike Perkins, Daniel Acuna, Ken Lashley
Colorist: Andy Troy, Matt Milla
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Review by Jason Payne
The first story is written by Christopher Priest and reunites us with a fan favorite, Everett Ross. This is story is essentially a throw back to his run with the character that began in 2001. which should be a real treat for older Black Panther fans and give some insight to newer ones. It also brings T’Challa’s adopted brother, Hunter; into the mix. Like with many Annual comics, no sense of time is really established except we do know it’s acknowledging the current political situation in Coates’s run. This story is a great mix of old and new, which will hopefully get some of the newer Panther fans into the older books.
The second story is pinned by Don McGregor who is known for Panther’s Rage. Panther’s Rage is credited by some as being responsible for the modern comic book era. Most comic fans consider Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as the turning point of comics from being lighthearted jokes, to the more serious and darker stories. But Panther’s Rage predates Miller’s work by over a decade. In this story T’Challa is dealing with the conflict of love and duty. How someone who has done so much for his country and the world can be so helpless in a situation that many people deal with everyday.
Reginald Hudlin was one of the most successful Black Panther writers and was responsible for keeping him relevant when Marvel rebooted after Priest’s run. His work would result in an animated mini-series produced by BET, appearances in video games, and even a prominent role on the animated show: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
This story takes readers to some point in the future. This isn’t the first time Hudlin has played with T’Challa in the future and the idea of nonexistent offspring. Hudlin revisits his old Black Panther Annual storyline; a reality where Tony Stark is out of control and Wakanda eventually has to defeat him and the United States. That story ended with world peace of course, Luke Cage becoming president, and one of T’Challa’s sons marrying Cage’s daughter. Even though Cage is the US President, it’s established in the first page that everyone answers to Wakanda now. In fact, if you’ve watched the film it addresses similar questions. T’Challa is doing what most good grandparents do, which is tell their grandkids stories from their prime years. There’s a nice reference to Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers. Here’s a hint; someone gets stabbed in the chest. And if you’re familiar with Black to the Future, the ending to this story shouldn’t surprise you.
Buy It! This is probably one the best overall annual books you’ll read. It praises the old while acknowledging the new. Perkins, Acuna, and Lashley do their best to represent the art styles that were prominent during each writers’ run; which gives a nice feeling of nostalgia. The tone for each story is rather consistent despite having three different writers. We see our hero in vulnerable situations and how someone normally so stoic deals with love and loss in the face of duty. And this an excellent way to introduce Black Panther film fans to the comic without overwhelming them. They can pick which writer they prefer and work their way up from there.