Black History Month 22: Panther’s Quest

February 22nd, 2008 by | Tags: , , , , , ,

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art from marvel comics’s panther’s quest. words by don mcgregor, art by gene colan.
I still remember the first comic featuring Black Panther I ever read. It was Marvel Comics Presents 15. It might have been 16. I had both. Amazon tells me that the line-up was “Ann Nocenti (Author), Don McGregor (Author), Bobbie Chase (Author), Fabian Nicieza (Author), Rick Leonardi (Illustrator), Gene Colan (Illustrator), Dwayne Turner (Illustrator), Javier Saltares (Illustrator).”

Not bad for a first look at a book, huh? Nocenti and Nicieza remain favorite writers for me. The rest of the team is just as awesome.

Anyway, the storyline was called “Panther’s Quest.” It was by Don McGregor and Gene Colan. It was probably my first book by those two, as well. Double my pleasure, then. As a kid, I just remember the story being about tube-socked Black Panther being in the desert, dying slowly, and sometimes running into barbed wire and getting cut or meeting up with a big game hunter in the woods and getting shot. It was bloody, disturbing, and I didn’t understand all of it because it was 25 parts long. Back then, I got comics by trading them. Buying new ones was rare. So, I read maybe three or four issues of this storyline, only two of them sequential, and forgot about it until recently.

I looked the story up and re-read it, this time in its entirety and in one sitting. Wow, what a great story that was. It dealt with apartheid, reality, family life, how far a man will go, and how corrupt a man can get. McGregor’s script was awesomely well-written, not to mention exciting. I wish I’d read the complete story as a kid. It’s exactly what I would have needed to actually like the Panther, ’cause the Avengers books never did it for me.

A huge part of my love for this book is Gene Colan’s art. It’s gritty and realistic and really very violent, but in a way that fits the story, rather than titillates. It made a huge impression on me as a kid. I hadn’t seen art like that before. Gritty? Yeah. Violent? Yeah. But it was always done by Image guys, so it was just a cartoon. When Colan draws the Panther writhing in pain, struggling with an enemy, or collapsing, you feel it. It looks like it should, so it looks like it hurts.

This is another of those books that really needs a reprint volume. The new Marvel Classics Premiere Hardcovers would be perfect for it. It’s about 200 pages, I believe, so the page count is bang on target. I think it’s one of Marvel’s forgotten classics, if that makes sense. You can reprint Infinity War until the cows come home, but Panther’s Quest is just languishing. It shouldn’t.

I threw up a pretty hardcore preview of 16 pages at the top of this post. That’s the first two parts of the story. Hopefully it doesn’t run into fair use troubles! I just wanted to show you guys a bit of the storytelling, setup, and art.

C’mon, Marvel! Get us a hardcover of this story.

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