The Comic Rack: The New Black Panther is… a Woman?
Ever since Reginald Hudlin’s first arc, “Who Is The Black Panther?”, I had a bad feeling about him taking over the series. Now, with the new development of a new Black Panther (allegedidly because of “Dark Reign”), I realize all my fears were minimal by nature. I also don’t think this was all Hudlin’s doing. Dave Richards’ article on CBR, “Deadlier of the Species: Hudlin talks Black Panther” hints at editorial involvement and I wouldn’t put it past Quesada and Alonso to influence Hudlin’s dispostion of stirring up a series that has been critically attacked.
To be clear, I’m not against a female taking up the mantle of Black Panther. What I am against is right now, on the cusp of solidifing the character as a main player in the a comic universe, is replacing T’Challa as The Black Panther. And this trend seems to be picking up steam all over both main comic universes. “Batman – R.I.P.” will lead into “The Battle for the Cowl”. Winter Soldier has essentially become Captain America. Plus you have the heir apparrents all over the universes. For every Green Arrow, there’s not only a Red Arrow, but a Speedy. For every Captain Marvel, there’s a Captain Marvel Jr. and a Mary Marvel. Even Wolverine has Daken and X-23. Superman has Supergirl and freakin’ Krypto, and the list goes on and on. Both universes have this on every level: hero and villian. More and more, mortality is setting in the comic universe and that is a bad thing.
More after the jump…
The baby boomers opted for realism. We want to see all the grittiness in the world. They have absconded with fantasy and “feel good” intentions for violence, sex and “stark realism”. I say bullshit. What you have sacrificed is your youth and the generations to follow. You’ve taken from them the stories that shaped your morals, and the escapism you enjoyed for your own success and challenges. You’ve robbed your audience of their fulfillment. You wonder why video games have rapidly become the entertainment of choice for the youth? Because they have some control over the outcome.
Back to the Panther. And yeah, I’m going to pull the race card. African-American heroes are still few and far between in the comic diaspora and now let’s take the franchise player and flip the script? Are you mad? Right on the cusp of being an A-lister, you want to take T’Challa out the game? To get hardcore on you – “Reggie, what the fuck you been smokin’?” Why would you take all the work you and (more importantly) Priest did and go left with it? Sometimes it’s more courageous to not follow the trend than to embrace it. Look at Bendis – he’s done more with Luke Cage than you have done with Panther. It’s a damn shame that a white man has more respect for an African-American hero than a black man has.
You want to evolve the Panther legacy then let T’Challa at least be the hero for “Dark Reign” and then want to turn over the mantle while he leads his country. What would really suck is if all of this is a set up for the return of T’Challa because the new Panther just couldn’t cut it in the end and he had to step in to take care of business. Women comic fans will want your head on a pike because a man, once again, had to step in and save the woman. That would suck big-time.
Also, sales on Panther is spotty, at best. Female led comics typically have a much harder time maintaining an audience because men can’t relate to the hero/heroine. Nice way of tanking the comic, dude. As an arc, this is a wonderful idea – maybe a look into the future. A set up of what is coming – plus a year long training by T’Challa for the heir apparent. But to just take over? You all should’ve let Jason Aaron take the book over. Instead, I will be surprised to see Black Panther continuing on the shelves at the end of 2009. I just hope Hudlin and the comic audience proves me wrong, but I doubt it.