Infinity Wars: Ghost Panther #1
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Jefte Palo
Colorist: Jim Campbell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Humberto Ramos, Edgar Delgado
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Review by Nico Sprezzatura
Ghost Panther is the last of the “Infinity Warps” spinning out of the Infinity Wars event. If you haven’t been paying attention —which seems hard to imagine if you have any interest in this one — then here’s a recap.
Gamora, controlling all of the Infinity Stones, has folded reality into itself and halved the universe; not by killing, but by combining individuals into single beings. Because of this, we now have a new pocket universe of mashup characters like Soldier Supreme (Captain America + Doctor Strange), Weapon Hex (X-23 + Scarlet Witch), and my personal favorite, Diamond Patch (Emma Frost + Wolverine). As you could probably imagine by the title, this tie-in features the debut of Ghost Panther, who is an amalgamation of Ghost Rider and Black Panther.
In this new reality, “Johnny Blaze” is the alias of T’Challa, the former ruler of Wakanda who now moonlights as a motorcyclist in America after being driven out of his home nation. In the broader context of the Infinity Warps, his origin seems to be the simplest, which is saying a lot compared to his contemporaries. It almost plays less into the amalgamation angle of these tie-ins and more like a “What If?” that Marvel recently published a new slate of last month. Because of that, the world of the Ghost Panther feels less different than mainline T’Challa’s, which isn’t a bad thing, just slightly underwhelming. Someone like Soldier Supreme, for example, feels like a genuine mashup of both Captain America and Doctor Strange’s worlds, which (for me, anyway) made for a more compelling experience.
But there are interesting ideas here: Shuri and Riri Williams are combined into Shuriri (try saying that five times fast), while Erik Killmonger and the obscure John Carter-esque Killraven become Erik Killraven (obviously). I do wonder why Riri and Killraven were chosen specifically for these Warps, since neither have much to do with Black Panther or Ghost Rider, but they weirdly work in the context of the issue.
The main event of Ghost Panther, however, is Jefte Palo’s super-stylized art. It bears more in common with some creator-owned stuff you’d see from Image and the like, which is never a bad quality for a Big Two title to have. A lot of Palo’s art looks ugly in a way that isn’t unpleasant to look at, which is hard to describe in words, but you’d likely understand it by giving his pages a glance. And because Ghost Panther is half Ghost Rider, of course, the horror-adjacent features only enhance the story being told.
The Verdict: Check it out.
If you’re already keeping up with the Infinity Wars saga, then Ghost Panther #1 is a good bet, but it likely won’t be for everyone else.