Tag Archives: black panther

Days of Thunder – April 1974 The Avengers #122

Trapped in Outer Space!”
Steve Engelhart, story/ Bob Brown, pictures/ M. Esposito, lines/ John Costanza, letters/ George Roussos, colors/ Roy Thomas, editor

Avengers 122

While the Avengers fight a group of terrorists known as the Zodiac on their spaceship, Thor accidentally throws his hammer into the void of space and reverts to Blake. Iron Man heads out into the void of space to retrieve it for his friend.

Iron Man grabs the hammer, which he is able to lift because it is zero gravity. Apparently, anyone can lift Mjolnir if it in the void of space. However, as he flies close enough to Earth’s gravity, the enchantment kicks in.  Unable to resist, it pulls the Shellhead toward the Earth.

The hammer smashes into the Zodiac spaceship, now also falling back toward Earth, pinning Iron Man to the ship in the process. Fortunately, another Zodiac spaceship catches the first and Mjolnir comes to a rest within the artificial gravity created by the ship.  Iron Man is freed and Thor is able to retrieve his hammer.   The Avengers defeat Zodiac.

Days of Thunder – November 1973 Defenders #10

Steve Engleart, Author * Sal Buscema, Artist * Frank Bolle, Inker * Tom Orzechowski , Letterer/ P. Goldberg, Colorist * Roy Thomas, Editor
Breakthrough! The Incredible Hulk Vs. The Mighty Thor!
Chapter 9″

Defenders 10

Over the past few issues of The Avengers and The Defenders, various members of the teams have been squaring off in battle. Now at last it is time for the main event: Thor vs. The Hulk. This has been long time coming, after their previous fight back in issue #112 proved inconclusive.

This battle also proves inconclusive.

 

Days of Thunder – October 1973 Avengers #116

Ten Years ago this month, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created… The Mighty Avengers! Today, Steve Englehard and Bob Brown continue the standard of excellence that has always marked Marvel’s mightiest, most exciting group–/Mike Esposito, inker/ John Costanza, letterer/ Petra Goldberg, colorist/ Johnny Romita, art director/ Roy Thomas, editor
“Chapter 2: Betrayal!”

Avengers 116

Dormammu and Loki have tricked the Defenders (currently consisting of Doctor Strange, Namor, the Hulk, Valkyrie, the Silver Surfer, and Hawkeye) into believing that the Evil Eye is the key to releasing the Black Knight from the stone prison that the Enchantress left him in. Now they search for the six scattered parts, guided by Strange’s magic.

Loki is having second thoughts about this plan. He has realized that if Dormammu would succeed in conqueroring Earth’s dimension, he would have the power and the vantage to launch an attack on Asgard. While Loki has no respect for his father’s rule, he does not wish to see his home conquered by an outsider and so he leaves the Dark Dimension in order to warn Thor of the threat to Earth. This is the very first time a Marvel comic has depicted Loki thinking or doing anything that was not entirely selfish and craven.

However, Loki cannot bring himself to be honest and admit culpability for this threat. Instead, he paints the Defenders as villains, seeking the Evil Eye for their own nefarious ends. Given that five of the six Defenders have track records as villains, this is plausible enough. And so the Avengers split up to fight the Defenders and keep them from re-assembling the Evil Eye.

This issue makes it clear that Earth and Asgard are in separate dimensions. The nature of what exactly a dimension is, remains shaky.

Clearly, this entire Avengers/Defenders crossover takes place either before or after Thor’s recent trip into space.

 

Days of Thunder – July 1973 The Avengers #113

“You Young Men Shall Slay Visions!”
Steve Englehart, Script/ Bob Brown, Art/ Frank Bolle, Inks/ John Costanza, Letterer/ David Hunt, Colorist/ Roy Thomas, Editor

avengers 113

Since we last checked in with the Avengers, Hawkeye and Quicksilver have both quit the team. The Black Widow briefly joined only to quit almost immediately.   Also, the mutant Scarlet Witch and the android Vision have become openly involved with each other romantically.

When the paparazzi catches wind of a relationship between a human and a robot, most of the public seems heartwarmed by the revelation. However, there is a small group of people so blinded with hatred at the prospect of an Android thinking himself to have personhood that they form a group of suicide bombers dedicated to killing the Vision.

The so-called Living Bombs send a manifesto to Avengers mansion: “only the lord Jehova can create life! Androds are agents of the devil, and will Bring hellfire and Brimstone to america! Wize up befor its to late! Androds have no soles!”

Soon after that message is delivered, a bomber manages blow herself up near the Vision, badly damaging him. The Avengers quickly form a team to repair their fallen friend: Noted scientist King T’Challa, renowned engineer Tony Stark, and established android expert Dr. Donald Blake.

As the three men work to repair their friend, the Scarlet Witch and Captain America patrol the grounds, anticipating another attack. As they patrol, the two heroes wonder where Thor and Iron Man are, being unaware of their teammates’ civilian identities.

More bombers do attack. Tony Stark, not needed to repair the Vision at that particular moment, excuses himself to “search” for Iron Man. Iron Man fights for awhile, until Stark returns to the “surgery.” He returns suggesting that Blake (wink, wink) search for Thor just like he (wink, wink) had searched for Iron Man. Blake grins at Stark’s piercing of their mutual charade before slipping out and turning into Thor.

Thor creates a vortex that spins the hatemongers high into the air, who all detonate themselves rather than be captured. Stark and T’Challa complete the procedure. The Vision will pull through.

First Appearance: The Living Bombs

 

Days of Thunder – December 1970 The Avengers #83

“…The Revolution’s Fine!”
Stan Lee Editor * Roy Thomas Writer * John Buscema Artist/ Tom Palmer – Inker/ Herb Cooper – Letterer

Avengers 83
Since Avengers Day, Thor and Iron Man have taken on the role of  part-time Avengers.  Many other things have transpired.   A noble android named the Vision, created by an Evil android named Ultron, in turn created by Goliath, joined the team. Goliath changed his name to Yellowjacket and then he and Wasp took a leave of absence to do science in Washington. Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch have returned to the fold with no consequences for their previous villainy. The Avengers recruited a new member named the Black Knight who disappeared without a trace immediately upon accepting their invitation to join. And Hawkeye took over the name and powers of Goliath, abandoning archery and becoming a size-changer.

In this issue a militant feminist hero named The Valkyrie creates an all-woman super hero team named the Liberators, consisting of Scarlett Witch, The Wasp, Black Widow, and Madame Medusa, queen of a secret race of superpowered beings known as the Inhumans (the previous stars of a short-lived backup strip in the pages of Thor.)

The Valkyrie has convinced the other lady heroes to defeat the male Avengers for the benefit of womandom. After a complicated battle between the Liberators, the Avengers, and the Masters of Evil, the Liberators are the victors.

It is at this point that the Valkyrie reveals herself to actually be the Enchantress. After her failed attempt to invade Asgard, Odin banished her and the Executioner to the most barren of Nether Worlds, warning that if they flee that world, their powers would be halved. Eventually, she was abandoned by the Executioner, who left her for the mist-woman queen of that murky world.

Spurned and alone, the Enchantress swore revenge upon all males and returned to Midgard, where she subtly influenced the Liberators into joining her cause. After the Enchantress tells her story, the Scarlet Witch turns on the villain and blasts her into seeming nothingness.

Freed of this influence, the Liberators free the male Avengers, causing Goliath to comment “I’m glad of one thing… you birds finally learned your lesson about that Women’s Lib bull!”

First Appearance: The Valkyrie

Days of Thunder – September 1968 Avengers King-Size Special! #2

“…And The Rushing River…”
Perhaps the most incredible Avengers thriller yet, presented with pride by: Stan Lee – Editor/ Roy Thomas – Writer/ Don Heck, Werner Roth} Artists/ Vince Colletta – Inker/ Joe Rosen- Letterer/ Honorary Avengers All!!

Avengers king 2

While Thor has been fighting the Mangog, Captain America and the Avengers, currently consisting of Goliath, Wasp, Hawkeye, and the Black Panther, have been meddling with time travel. They now return to what they believe to be the present day, only to discover that the world that they have returned to is not the world from which they left. In the timestream they now find themselves in, the original Avengers, consisting of Thor, Iron Man, Giant Man, The Wasp, and The Hulk, have sized control of the world, capturing and indefinitely detaining all other people with super powers, be them hero or villain.

Of course, these alternate Avengers are being manipulated by Kang the Conquerer but he isn’t mind-controlling them, nor is he blackmailing them, simply giving them a thin pretense of heroics under which they can justify world-rule.   Kang posed as an alien on a mission of peace, and offered to cure all of Earths ills if the Avengers would first imprison all other superhumans. They unanimously accepted his offer without even asking for the slightest evidence to back his claims.

The specifics of how things play out don’t much matter as this is a time travel story that ends with the erasing of all memory of occurrence on the part of all participants.  Nonetheless, it stands as sharp reminder of how little it takes to get Thor to conquer the planet, as he has done or attempted to do at least twice in the past.

 

The Story Thus Far

Christopher Priest didn’t want to write Black Panther.  Conventional wisdom suggested that a predominantly white comic book audience won’t buy a book starring a black hero.  And in the 20 years since Panther’s Rage, T’Challa had been watered down into a pretty boring character.  Why write a book destined to be canceled within a year?

He was convinced to take the job anyways, and the book hit the ground running, with the freedom that comes from having nothing to lose.  The first story arc features a complicated conspiracy involving a coup in Wakanda, mud wrestling, Bill Clinton with a hockey stick, and The Devil’s Pants.  And when the book sold just well enough to avoid cancellation, the book just got weirder.

Priest’s T’Challa is a big picture guy.  He sees the world as a chessboard, and he is always five moves ahead of everyone else.  He is Batman with a nation, Doctor Doom with a conscience.  He’s a hard character to identify with, and for this reason, he isn’t really the main character of the book.  That role falls to Everett K. Ross, T’Challa’s government attaché, and self-proclaimed whitest white guy in America. Ross is a (frequently hilarious) everyman, and he narrates almost every issue.

Ross, a cynical wisecracker, completely out of his element, stands in sharp contrast to Black Panther, who is noble and stoic and always in control. The end result feels like two separate comic books layered on top of each other.  T’Challa’s story is one of triple-dog-serious matters of state: A book for people who liked Suicide Squad. On the flip side, Ross’s story is an irreverent deconstruction of the Marvel universe:  Jokes and indignity for people who liked the Justice League International. 

For the whole run, it felt like Priest pretty much did whatever crazy thing he wanted.  The book would have action and adventure and politics and drama and humor, and it would have all of these things in the same 22 page issue.  During its course, not only did it crossed over with Deadpool, it crossed over with Quantum & Woody, which isn’t published by Marvel, and it crossed over with Thor #370, a fill-in issue from 1986.

Panther’s archenemy in this book is The White Wolf, who is T’Challa’s brother, and a Wakandan superspy.  White Wolf keeps doing evil superspy stuff against Panther’s wishes in order to help Wakanda.  And its king. He excellently fills the role of the flip side of Black Panther’s coin.

Also causing trouble in Wakanda is Rev. ibn-al-Hajj Achebe and his hand puppet, Daki.  Achebe is a dude who sold his soul to the devil for revenge and insanity, and who now wants to be king and queen of the universe. This book is weird.

Any part of Panther’s history that didn’t ring true, Priest would try to fix.  Why would an African king fight dress up and fight crime?  Why would he join an American superhero team? There was a teenage Wakandan superhero named Vibraxis, master of Vibration?  What the hell was up with Kirby’s Panther?  This book connected all aspects of Black Panther’s history, including the return of several elements from McGregor’s run, most notably Erik Killmonger, who Priest fashioned into a complex, sympathetic villain.

In celebration of Black Panther’s 35th anniversary, we were treated with a 100 page issue reprinting Fantastic Four #52, 53, Jungle Action #8, as well as giving us a glimpse of the character 25 years in the future, all for $3.50. Then, for the book’s fourth year, my favorite, T’Challa must deal with a man from his past (or is that future) the swashbuckling Kirby Black Panther from the 70’s.

With two Panthers, the book achieves maximum loopiness. Panther and Iron Man steal each other’s companies.  T’Challa annexes a Canadian island.  The whole supporting cast hook up with Thor and Loki in the wild west.  And as Ross tries to figure out who the hell this extra T’Challa was, the serious one becomes increasingly worried that he is turning into a supervillain.  Great stuff. 

And then things changed drastically.  After four brushes with cancellation, Marvel mixes things up in a big way. For the book’s final year Sal Velluto and Bob Almond, the book’s stalwart art team were kicked off of the book, and with them went almost the entire cast, including Ross and T’Challa. The book becomes about Casper Cole, a police officer who finds one of T’Challa’s costumes, and uses it to try to dig himself out of the crime drama-y mess that he finds himself in.  This story isn’t bad, but it is a major letdown after the large scale nuttiness of the prior four years, and it fails to keep the book alive.

The book had been a rollercoaster ride.  You never knew what the next twist was going to be, but you could rely on there being one.  And if it occasionally seemed as if the payoffs should have been bigger, you didn’t worry about it because the book kept moving continuously forward. It was a hell of ride.

Tomorrow, the ride is over as Black Panther Week continues.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.