Let’s move onto the Black Panther’s part in one of the most popular and oft-discussed Marvel Comics events of the past 20 years, Civil War. This will be recounted through the seven issues included in the Black Panther: Civil War collection released by Marvel.
For the uninitiated, Marvel’s Civil War was the result of a massive schism in the Marvel superhero community. After a number of calamities that occurred as a result of failures from masked vigilantes, including Nitro the Exploding Man detonating near an elementary school in Sanford, Connecticut on a reality television series based around the New Warriors, the U.S. government passes an act that requires all masked vigilantes to reveal their identities to the public and become trained officers of the law should they continue their vigilante activities.
This is spearheaded by S.H.I.E.L.D, led by Maria Hill, who is tasked with bringing in the superheroes of America. Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Yellowjacket (Hank Pym), She-Hulk, Wonder Man, Ms. Marvel, Tigra, Wasp, and others side with S.H.I.E.L.D. Captain America, Luke Cage, Daredevil (who is actually Iron Fist at this point), the Falcon, Black Goliath, Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, Spider Woman, the Young Avengers, Hercules, and others start a coalition to fight against the law and continue protecting the innocent. These alliances form battle-lines and soon begin clashing constantly across New York.
Despite its flaws, some of which are pretty apparent from the premise, this is easily among my favorite Big Two crossover events of all time. It was intense, topical, and managed to hone in on the character conflicts very well.
When these events begin to transpire, T’Challa had very recently wed Ororo Munroe, also known as the X-Man Storm. As part of their honeymoon, the two newlyweds go on state visits to powers across the globe and beyond. The two meet Doctor Doom of Latveria, Namor of Atlantis, Black Bolt of Attilan, and Captain Britain. Almost all of which take this as a show of power, and that’s not entirely untrue.
This tour also leads them to the United States, where, among the elected leaders of the land, T’Challa and Storm meet up with Iron Man. This turns into a standoff of political turmoil all its own, ending with War Machine attempting to arrest Storm.
After further conflict and a slugfest with Captain America himself, Black Panther and Storm join up with Cap’s Secret Avengers and join the fight against Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D.
This story recaptures much of the political intrigue of Christopher Priest’s Black Panther run, albeit more directly and more relevant to Marvel’s in-universe politics. Regardless, Reginald Hudlin’s take on T’Challa goes many interesting places in this story, and the Civil War tension permeates all seven issues of this arc.
Seeing T’Challa and Ororo staring down the likes of Doom and Namor may never get old. The dialogue in these scenes, as well as every other time these two want to show they mean business, is fantastic. Hudlin can play with subtlety and implicit threats that can often come with political discourse.
The chemistry between T’Challa and Ororo is fantastic, too. This was one of Marvel’s best power couples for a long time, and it’s a shame that Avengers vs. X-Men tore it asunder. They made for a cute couple, and they understood one another very well.
The action scenes are great too. We get to see Captain America and Black Panther, two martial arts masters, trade blows while debating the ideas of Civil War. You also get the emotional undertones; Cap is partially just letting off steam with an old friend in a very stressful time. We also get to see Storm tear apart some sentinels and Starktech, which will always be awesome.
These action scenes are brought to life pencillers Scot Eaton, Manuel Garcia, Koi Turnbell, and Marcus To. Inkers Andrew Hennessy, Mark Morales, Sandu Florea, Jay Leisten, Sean Parsons, Don Ho, Sal Regla, Jeff de los Santos, and Nick Nix, as well as colorists Dean White, Matt Milla, and J.D. Smith. The art is solid throughout, with the first half of “World Tour” having subtler and detail-focused work. “War Crimes” brings a more dynamic and action-oriented style, with the final issue going for a more anime-inspired cartoonish style. The colors are well balanced and contrasting throughout. The inkwork is great, too, though it is a little too heavy at times in “War Crimes” part one and two.
Hudlin and company brought a great tale to the Civil War table with their Black Panther tie-in. Playing with the politics and the personal relationships like an expert, this book provides a great read that I highly recommend if you’re looking for defining moments in the history of the Black Panther.
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