Black Panther & Black Supremacy

February 26th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

This’ll make sense tomorrow, I promise. But for now, enjoy (and feel free to discuss) this exchange from the letters page of Black Panther #4, which was written by Reggie Hudlin, drawn by John Romita Jr, and collected as Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther?. It’s a good comic, but I needed to excerpt this for another piece I’m working on elsewhere.

I typed all this out myself, so the errors are my own. Here’s the original joint:


Tomorrow: I’m throwing molotov cocktails at the precinct. We can discuss it rightchea if the comment thread on another site (I don’t know why I’m being secretive, it’s not like I write for anyone besides ComicsAlliance) isn’t to your flavor.

I read the Black Panther #1 relaunch with an open mind. I love the character and loved Priest’s run. Honestly, I haven’t liked much of the usual Marvel hype surrounding this new series (obviously aimed at Marvel’s perceived core audience of backwards-hat-wearing skateboarders), but I am totally willing to give the new writer a chance. The result was mixed feelings.

First, it seems that Reginald Hudlin can write comics. Marvel feels that only Hollywood writers can write decent comics; the truth is usually the opposite. I’m always wary of a new Hollywood writer, mostly because the aforementioned hype machine has wildly overrated their talents. But Mr Hudlin can visualize and write a coherent script. So far, so good. The penciling was fine. I did not care for how emaciated and anemic-looking John Romita Jr’s Spider-Man was, but he doesn’t make the same mistake with these characters.

The scripting started to break down about halfway through. Specifically, the meeting in the White House. The suggestion that a top military White House official would call blacks “jungle bunnies” is ridiculous and speaks to Mr Hudlin’s hatred of Bush more than his writing abilities. Really, President Bush has a much more diverse staff than any of his predecessors and the most diverse Cabinet that has ever existed. Is this President really going to tolerate racism in his staff, General or not? This scene did not ring true.

The white industrialists attacking Wakanda in the 19th century were a little more believable. This reflects the gree and racism of the time and besides, black tribes were also showing attacking. Wakanda is a rich nation, and as such is subject to attack throughout history by all sorts of forces. I bought this.

Then there was the Cap thing. I suppose there was a chance that on a really good day T’Chaka could take Captain America, but the scene just reeked of the “all black people are good, all white people are bad” attitude that permeated the story. And of course, our racist white General ferociously denies that such an event actually took place. I suppose this is Mr Hudlin’s way of telling fans like me that if we question that the great Captain America can be beaten (by a black man), we’re just as racist as the General. Sorry, not true. It’s just that it’s hard to beat Cap, period, regardless of the race of the protagonist. I’m still not sure if I buy that, but I suppose it’s possible. Then there was the fact that Cap’s shield was the wrong one for 1944. Of course it’s minor, and no, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, but it’s just another way that NuMarvel in general, and the editor specifically, ignore any comic printed before 2000.

It’s too early to tell if Black Panther is going to be a good adventure comic or a soapbox screaming that every white person (and super hero) is, knowingly or not, a racist. Take a note from Priest on this; his run occasionally touched on racism, but he was never heavy-handed about it. I was impressed when Priest, a self-admitted liberal, depicted President Bush as a savvy leader during his original BP run. Priest managed to tell a story first, and stick in his personal agenda mostly not at all. Can this team do the same?

Again, because of my love for the character, I’ll stick around for the first storyline. I’ll never forget how cool I thought the Panther was in FF during the ’60s. And even cooler when he took off his mask and revealed that he was black (as you well know, black heroes were almost nonexistent at the time). So to the entire creative team, especially the writer and editor: story first, personal agenda nowhere.


Ho-kay, Jerry. You grind quite a few axes with that letter — we lost count by the third paragraph, in fact. We think it’s only fair to let Reggie respond for the record. Reg’?

I respectfully disagree with you about JR Jr’s Spider-Man — you wanna see scrawny? See Ditko’s Spidey — and I love Ditko’s work! There is no doubt John is doing a great job on this book. That said:

Regarding your point that the White House sequence “is ridiculous and speaks to [my] hatred of Bush more than [my] writing abilities”: Whoah. I’ve been black for a very long time and I’ve met prejudiced people in every walk of life — regardless of race, creed, social position, or political affiliation. Acknowledging their existence does not imply that whatever group they belong to automatically shares their beliefs. As for whether such talk could occur in such rarefied circles, plenty of Presidents, from Woodrow Wilson to Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon, have been documented saying racist remarks. Do I think it’s in the realm of possibility that a White House staffer from either the Clinton or Bush administrations (remember, the story does not specify who is President) might make a racist comment? Yes. Would such a remark be tolerated? Well, in my story, the black woman who is running the meeting — Dondi Reese — summarily dismisses the idiot without breaking a sweat.

Regarding the Cap thing: I don’t engage in Hulk vs Thing debates, and I won’t engage in Cap vs Panther debates either. I am in the fortunate position of writing Black Panther, and the Panther beat Cap. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some Captain America — I spent 200 bucks on one of those fancy shield replicas on eBay — but Panther beat Cap, baby. Live with it.

Regarding your assertion that the whole story was saying “all black people are good, all white people are bad,” all I can say is, this remark says more about you than the comic I wrote. Aren’t the first “bad guys” in the book black invaders with body part trophies from previous raids? If you think I’m vilifying the administration, isn’t that a black woman in charge? Clearly, all black people aren’t “good” in this issue. So maybe the problem, in your eyes, is that there aren’t enough “good” white people? Why? Captain America may have lost the fight with the Panther, but he certainly doesn’t say or do anything to betray the principles he stands for. And when one guy in the meeting says something stupid, everyone looks at him like the fool he is, and once he is dragged away, intelligent conversation resumes — so why brand the entire room as racist because of one guy’s comments? I wouldn’t presume that about them, so why would you?

Finally, regarding your concern that this book will become a “soapbox screaming that every white person (and super hero) is, knowingly or not, a racist,” let me say this: By necessity, many black people spend long hours analyzing the complex permutations of racism, while some of their white brothers and sisters have a harder time discussing the awkward and painful feelings the topic evokes. But sticking our heads in the sand only makes the problem worse. Until we develop a common language and a shared understand of each other’s experiences, these conversations will generate more heat than light. I don’t want to preach to the converted. I don’t want to preach at all. But I do want to challenge readers of every political stripe. I appreciate the fact that you’re willing to stick around. The more you read, the more you’ll see I’m an equal opportunity offender. The more you read, the more you’ll see I’m all about kick-@$$ action and heroics. And if you think Stan and Jack didn’t have a personal agenda, you’re wrong. Like The Beatles, they used their artistic genius to make the world a better place — and they succeeded.

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Great Moments in Black History #01: Amandla, Man

March 16th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

from marvel’s black panther: little green men. words by reggie hudlin, art by cafu

(it isn’t daily, but it is weekly. a different moment every monday morning at nine PST for the foreseeable future, an amazon link so you can read it, and minimal commentary from me. just a little something to brighten up your monday mornings, and i’ll never suggest a scene or series that i don’t genuinely enjoy. if you’ve got requests, be it for a character or a specific scene, you know the e-mail.)

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Black History Month 21: Bad Mutha

February 21st, 2008 Posted by david brothers

art from marvel comics’s black panther. art by mike deodato.
The problem with Reggie Hudlin is that Christopher Priest ruined Black Panther.

I don’t mean “ruined” in a negative way. Priest had a ridiculously fun run and I’ve enjoyed Hudlin’s run. But, following up Priest on that book is kind of like following up Grant Morrison on Doom Patrol. When you make a book so thoroughly yours, you make it hard on anyone else who steps up to bat.

I think that Reggie Hudlin knew this, so he delivered a Panther that’s different from Priest’s. Where Priest worked the intrigue angle hard, Hudlin is working on a straightforward superheroic action movie. They’re two books that couldn’t be more different, and I kind of like that.

Reggie Hudlin isn’t afraid to try new things, either. Panther marrying Storm, a Luke Cage/Black Panther buddy movie, Skrull Civil Rights leaders, and all kinds of fun things have riddled his run. There are a few subplots going on (remember those?), but the A plots tend to be fun rides where the Panther gets to show off (or be in the wrong!) and things blow up.

I like that a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I love Priest’s Panther, but I think that Hudlin’s Panther is also very fun to read. If Priest hadn’t taken Panther on a different (not better, not worse, different) path, Hudlin’s Panther wouldn’t catch half the flak it does. There’s an expectation for a book starring the Panther now, and it’s one that Hudlin has only flirted with so far.

So, I come not to bury Reggie Hudlin, but to praise him. He’s writing a book that is aimed almost directly at the black comics reader, and I don’t think that that helps the reviews any. It took me a minute, but once Hudlin wrote the issue that began with Luke Cage thinking about what the Panther means to him, I realized exactly what he was doing.

It’s a Marvel Comic book with a black american slant. Call it a black male power fantasy if you like. It’s Hudlin drawing a line in the ground and going “Here we are. We have always been here. We are just as awesome, just as capable, and just as fun as those other guys.”

I think that Hudlin’s Panther is a fun book to have out there. It serves a good purpose, even if that purpose is just “Watch Panther fight people for 22 pages.” I’d like to think that this is a book that has appeal outside of the usual spandex demographic. I’m still buying it, which is kind of a big deal for me since I don’t like floppies much. The latest arc, with the Kirby frogs and the Skrull gangsters and Malcolm X and all was fun. Just loud, bright comics about an awesome dude doing awesome things.

There are two Black Panthers. I love both of them.

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A Perfect Storm

July 1st, 2007 Posted by david brothers

So, uh, yeah, my feelings on Storm are pretty well documented, I think.

It’s almost 4am and I’m doing some writing (for work) and thinking about Storm. I’m thinking about Storm due wholly to this (Manstream) and this (B@N). Also, it’s late, and a Brothers’s mind wanders when it’s late.

Anyway, I had a thought hit me a few minutes ago.

I can think of exactly four black people, all of them men, who have written stories featuring Storm in a lead role. Christopher Priest used her during his Black Panther run, and this link suggests that the issue I’m thinking of was BP #26 in 2000, though I think that was a multi-part story. Reggie Hudlin is using her in Black Panther right now. Eric Jerome Dickey wrote her origin miniseries, Storm in 2006. Dwayne McDuffie is writing her in Fantastic Four right now, while she and T’Challa temporarily replace Reed and Sue. The bulk of Storm’s character development was handled by Chris Claremont and, who, Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell? I know that Claremont had her roped up in X-Treme X-Men for the early ’00s.

Claremont wrote the first meeting of BP and Storm in Marvel Team-Up #100. Priest, who had a plan for Storm to marry BP a few years back, wrote them again in BP #26. EJD expanded on their first meeting in the Storm miniseries, and Hudlin married them in BP (new series) #18.

Over the course of her existence, I can think of exactly one black dude she’s dated, which has really only been handled in any kind of detail in the past, what, three years? Two? Which also happens to coincide nicely with the advent of black people writing her stories.

Which also ties in with the complaints that Storm and Panther are only getting married because they’re black, Storm is out of character, she wouldn’t complain about people dissing her hair, and so on.

There is something here, but I don’t know if I can put my finger on it well enough to articulate it.

Found some images while I was googling up some research for this brief post.

Black Panther #27:

Marvel Team-Up #100:

Some Uncanny X-Men Annual

What is up with all these dudes wanting to make Storm their queen? Dr. Doom, this Arkon guy, Dracula, the dude from X-Treme X-Men… dang. What’s she got that Monica Rambeau doesn’t?

edit after five hours of sleep: Please make Scott Eaton, Klaus Janson, and Dean White draw, ink, and color Storm and Panther forever thanks

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Pride of a Panther: Top 5 Black Men

July 10th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

Dr Sivana shol is a smart 'un!So, anyone who spends any amount of time speaking to me tends to find out that I am very, very pro-black. There’s a song by dead prez that goes, “Thirty-one years ago I would’ve been a [Black] Panther.” This is so true in my case that I have actually gone back in time and helped found a chapter of the Black Panther Party in Brooklyn. I did this when I was a little older. Time travel is tricky, all right?

I was sitting here thinking, as us intellectual types are wont to do, and I’m not feeling the love, comics. You aren’t treating your black characters right. You call Jason Rusch, the new Firestorm, a token, an affirmative action quota kid, and all kinds of other nasty names. Bishop? Bishop had a perm. What kind of self-respecting, non-pimp black man wears a perm? Virgil “Static” Hawkins and his imprintmates at Milestone went the way of the dodo, despite being some of the best comics to come out of the ’90s. Static was the first Ultimate Spider-Man, if you get me. Don’t even get me started on the reaction to Captain America: Truth – Red, White, and Black, or the kind of glaring lack of writers of color at the big two.

It’s cool, though.Captain Marvel in Blackface Blacks in comics have come a long way. Luke Cage used to be a patently offensive stereotype, though he’s been pretty well gentrified now. Stepin Fetchits abounded during the early years of comics. Comics great Will Eisner even had his own little stereotypical black kid running around. Did we have it as bad as Chop-chop and Egg-fu? Well, yeah. Stereotypes, unless played very carefully, tend to be ugly, ugly things.

Anyway, this is all introduction to the meat of the matter. A lot of black heroes are wack, but there are some gems, too. For every Black Goliath there’s a Black Panther, dig? So check the list and let me know what you think. Read the rest of this entry �

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