*For those of you that have spent a good portion of your early teens years reading comic books the name “Black Panther” means power, independence and justice.
We’re not talking about the venerated self-defense organization spawned in Oakland, California in the 60s. Although the “Black Panther” of which we speak was obviously inspired by the real life group with which he shares his name. He was conceived by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee of Marvel Comics back in 1966 and is the very first character of African descent created by a major comic book company.
African Americans have been fans of comic books since their advent, but never had a character with which they could truly relate. But with the “Black Panther” we had a brother that was working it out all upside the heads of the most wicked super villains in the Marvel Universe. The fact that he is so black is not lost on this writer. Not in color, but in words, actions, customs and philosophy.
It was with the glee and delight of a 7th grader that I was able to screen the Marvel Knights Animation Black Panther DVD and I was not disappointed. The 6 episodes tell the tale of T’challa the King of the technologically advanced fictional kingdom of Wakanda. As the story goes, Wakanda has never been conquered and is the technological envy of the world. It is this jealousy that leads to the assassination of the prior Black Panther, T’challa’s father, by an assassin called Klaw.
Comic enthusiasts know him for his cybernetic hand and psychopathic tendencies. The enemies of Wakanda are many and feature the likes of the invincible Juggernaught, the Black Knight, Radioactive Man and, gulp, the United States of America with a high-tech, highly unethical cyborg-zombie army. This is a graphic novel-style DVD. What’s the difference between a graphic novel and a comic book? A whole lot more violent for one thing and while there’s no profanity, there some suggestive lines.
America wants Wakanda’s resources and are angling for a reason to invade. Klaw, the Juggernaught and the rest of the crew are in it for the money. The Black Panther? He’s in it to avenge the death of his father. But, oh no, this isn’t just some one-off charity offering from Marvel to color folks with a BS plot and corn-ball characters you couldn’t pay me to read about. Guest appearances are made by Captain America, who gets served by the Black Panther, the X-Men and other characters that only true Marvel heads can spot.
The Marvel Knights offering is filled with intrigue and action thanks to it being written masterfully by Reginald Hudlin and animated in true Marvel fashion by John Romita Jr. and it all comes to a climactic head with an ending that won’t let you down. Yeah, I know I’m nerding it up right now, but I can’t help it. This DVD was an absolute joy to behold.
The main character is voiced by Djimon Hounsou with Jill Scott voicing Storm of the X-Men. Alfre Woodard lends her talents to U.S. Secretary of State Dondi Reese and the Queen Mother as well. Kerry Washington voices Princess Shuri. The only thing better would have been to see it made into a big budget Hollywood film ala Iron Man.
The DVD is scheduled to be released today, January 18. The Marvel Knights Animation DVD features extensive bonus content and a replica comic style sleeve that bridges the gap between comic book and DVD. You can pick it up where ever you by DVDs for around $15.00.
Stay tuned for a future edition of EURweb.com when sit down with writer/filmmaker Reginald Hudlin and talk to him regarding this and other projects he’s working on. Until then, make mine Marvel!