Black Panther #30: Review

May 2001
Christopher Priest, Norm Breyfogle

Story Name:

The Story Thus Far

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Black Panther #30 Review by (July 4, 2011)
The cover and introductory spiel say the WWII flashback occurs in early 1941. This could be compatible with CAC#1's cover date of March 1941. However many sources point out that the events of the origin story in CAC#1 must be spread over several months, and some add that there should be months of training for Bucky between the origin story and the other tales in CAC#1. The All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update #2 (May 2007) had a Cap bibliography which is now available in the online Marvel Universe. This gives a date of October 1940 for the flashback in this issue. As well as spreading Cap's origin over time, part of the Bibliography's backdating is due to a general policy of placing the events in Timely comics 3 months before their cover date, because the issues were actually published that early. I personally favour pushing things even further back to allow for the creation time of the comics (then very short). This would make certain references, e.g. to Pearl Harbor, more timely (excuse the pun). Strangely this issue offers support for all this backdating. Although it claims to be set in early 1941, T'Chaka's comments suggest otherwise. He shows Cap how au fait he is with current events by talking about the invasion of the Benelux countries and the disaster of Dunkirk as ongoing, all May 1940! That strains even my timeline. (I'm not sure what to make of an editorial comment urging readers to look up the details for themselves, potentially exposing early 1941 as a lie.) The Official Handbook(1985) entry for Wakanda says a British expedition found Wakanda and its vibranium mound in the 1940's. It would have to be right at the beginning of the decade if that expedition led to Cap's journey to Wakanda. A much expanded version of the WWII flashback is to be found in the CA&BP: Flags of our fathers limited series which Peter has reviewed.

This issue continues Christopher Priest's vision of Black Panther as ruler of a country rather than a superhero, as Ross tells the court. This was meant to be the final issue because the series was cancelled, so it tries to tie a lot of stuff up. But a last minute reprieve had Priest adding the scenes with Gyrich and Mephisto, to springboard into new plotlines.

The sequencing is less fractured than usual for Priest's run, even with all the flashbacks. The pencilling is by Norm Breyfogle rather than regular Sal Veluto. So for many reasons this issue isn't typical of the series as a whole.

Monica Lynne's relationship with Black Panther goes all the way back to Avengers #73. Marriage has often been discussed, but many barriers have been put in the way, the latest being a visit from T'Challa's childhood sweetheart Storm in #25-27. This isn't the last we'll see of Monica.

In future issues Mephisto will take over Ross's body, but will turn out not to be Mephisto at all, but an Iron Fist/K'Un L'Un baddie called Black Dragon.

The WWII Captain America's cowl is depicted here as separated from the rest of his costume, but with a chinstrap to hold it on. I don't know if this is deliberate, but it makes an interesting intermediate stage between Cap's first costume and his later one. Cap originally wore the separate cowl only in Timely's CA Comics #1. CA#255 showed Cap's first mission in uniform, and his cowl being nearly knocked off. Perhaps the chinstrap was added because of that.

Of course Cap has his triangular shield. And he isn't accompanied by Bucky. This fits the modern Marvel mythos which has Bucky joining Cap only after he has received his new costume and round shield. It could still fit in the same place in the Timely version, even though the old shield and costume lasted for 3 adventures in CAC#1 after Bucky turned up. (As noted here, Cap had spare triangular shields.)




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Black Panther #30 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Following recent events, culminating in the US getting involved in a war between Wakanda, Atlantis, the Deviants of Lemuria and Dr Doom, the Senate Intelligence Committee is holding a closed hearing to decide whether the US can afford the risk of allowing the Black Panther to stay in the country. As King of Wakanda he can't of course be put on trial. But he has agreed to attend the hearing, with Everett K. Ross, his State Department minder, as his defence lawyer.

Captain America is called as a witness for the defence. He describes his first contact with Wakanda, which is still a state secret.

Cap and a troop of Military Intelligence soldiers went to the hidden African kingdom of Wakanda during WWII to investigate the source of a sample of vibranium. He met the then Black Panther, T'Challa's father T'Chaka. They sparred, while armed natives held off the GI's. Impressed by Cap's skill and restraint, T'Chaka agreed to talk to him. The US was worried that the Germans might find out about vibranium, and overrun Wakanda to take it. T'Chaka showed his knowledge of the state of the war (and of languages), which the US was still officially neutral in.

Back in the courtroom Ross seems to be acting more like the prosecution than the defence. Cap recommended the Panther as an Avenger back in Captain America #100 and Avengers #52 (the original series both). But Ross gets Cap to admit that (in #8) T'Challa claimed to have joined the Avengers to investigate them as a potential threat to his country. And that (in #9) he accused a US Government agency of trying to take over Wakanda.

The next defence witness Mr Fantastic describes how (in the classic Fantastic Four #52-54) the Panther invited the FF to hitherto-hidden Wakanda to suss out this new breed of super-heroes.

A third witness police officer Price fills in the gap between last issue and this. Last issue ended with T'Challa (who had submitted to arrest for killing Klaw) and Ross being menaced by a mob angry at Wakanda's apparent attack on the US. Arresting officer Price was steeling herself to defend them with her gun, when the Panther escaped his handcuffs and carried Price and Ross to safety.

Ross finally makes his point. T'Challa isn't a superhero. He is the leader of a sovereign nation who does what is necessary for his country. Wakanda doesn't need the US, it can stand on its own. But T'Challa is willing to be a friend of the US. And along the way Ross throws in that the Panther has actually been one of the good guys.

Behind the scenes the Committee decide not to ban Black Panther from the US. We then have several epilogues.

T'Challa proposes to Monica Lynne, but she rejects him and they part friends.

We see a continuation of the WWII meeting between Cap and T'Chaka. T'Chaka gives Cap a chunk of vibranium. He asks how he can trust Cap to keep Wakanda and vibranium a secret, if he lets Cap and the soldiers return to the US. Cap gives him his triangular shield as a sign of their deal. Cap's idea of keeping the secret is to tell the US Government (as he was bound to do), but ensure that the existence of Wakanda is kept classified.

Today Cap recalls how Myron McLaine incorporated the vibranium into his indestructible round shield (as shown in CA#303). Panther returns the triangular shield. A caption lets us know it wasn't the only one Cap had (another was destroyed in Avengers #275). But Cap gives it back to him.

Ross remembers (in a scene from #1) his dead (since #24) girlfriend/boss Nikki Adams, in their wrecked apartment (trashed by Nikki in #18). He wonders if he can get his treason charges dropped (treason because he sided with Wakanda). He gets a visit from his disgruntled (because of Ross's actions with the Black Panther) new boss Henry Peter Gyrich (bugbear of the Avengers). Then Mephisto turns up! (We haven't seen him since #1-5 where, amongst other things, Ross sold his soul for a pair of trousers.)

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Preview Pages
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Norm Breyfogle
Norm Breyfogle
VLM
Sal Velluto (Cover Penciler)
Sal Velluto (Cover Inker)
MM (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Sharpefont & PT.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

(T'Challa)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

Plus: Black Panther (Sr.), Everett K. Ross, Mephisto.

> Black Panther: Book info and issue index

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