The Series (2/5)
Being that I've seriously liked the Marvel Knights line of motion comics, I had to assume there would be an exception. In this case it was the third time that refused to charm me with The Black Panther.
The Black Panther, who has no affiliation to The Black Panthers, was a character created in July of 1966 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee for an issue of The Fantastic Four(#52, for those keeping count) a few short months before the political party formed. Personally, I always wondered if there was a connection between the two, but never really cared enough to do any research. Lazy of me, I know. The Black Panther himself was a superhero I never really had any passion for, probably due to his lack of good writers. This particular session with T'challa was scripted by Reginald Hudlin, the man who was, at the time, the president of BET(Black Entertainment Television, for those who are white). It should be no surprise that the melding of the minds decided that, "Holy shit! We could make a cartoon for BET out of this."
The idea was good enough. Marketing a black superhero should be easy enough to an audience so in search of all things black that it removes the white people from some of the shows it airs(The Wire, for those keeping count). It even aired in full, from what I understand, which is practically black magic considering that the other superhero shows to hit television usually don't(Most of them, for those keeping count).
The story itself was a little hard for me to care for. It seemed to have an underlying message of "White people are bad and they do bad things to black people" which can be entertaining to a degree, but not really so in this case. Reginald Hudlin even goes so far as to try to take as many varied white villains as possible from the Marvel Universe as possible to make his statement. The villains of the arc were the French Batroc the Leaper, the American Juggernaut, the Russian Radioactive Man, the British Black Knight, and a character who could be a Dr. Wiley creation, named Klaw. Sure, there was a mini plot with a black villain who had, like 3 minutes of screen time, but still the main villains were Whitey.
An aspect that I thought I'd enjoy, but ended up loathing, were the ties to the Marvel Universe that popped up. Captain America shows up at one point with an very unexpected and strange voice. The X-Men show up a few times. That was kind of neat, and would have been much cooler if they weren't made out to be complete bojos. Storm is even a deus ex machina. These characters don't seem to be displaying their true characteristics and are basically shoehorned into the cartoon.
Other aspects of Hudlin's writing were also poorly executed. It makes my blood boil to see pointless expository dialog in movies, cartoons, and comic books. It is, in my opinion, retarded to tell an audience what they are already viewing through a character. If a character is attacked and providing the attacker misses, it is completely unnecessary for the defender to say "You missed me and didn't kill me so now I'm going to kill you." or anything along those lines. Hudlin also liked using puns. When a character lost his leg, his attacker said "You can't attack me....WITHOUT A LEG TO STAND ON!" and other stupid lines. Honestly, if we're going to take the Black Panther seriously we need something less dumb.
John Romita Jr was less than impressive as an artist. His art seems to be getting either worse with his age, or less tolerable with mine. I'll let you know when I decide.
Through all of this negative, I did find that the voice cast was good. Djimon Hounsou is pretty much the best choice for the Black Panther ever. Ever. Unfortunately.... that's about it. Sigh.
Since I have to give this a rating and it pains me to do so, I'm going to give it 2.0 on our 5 scale. Don't buy this. It's mayyyyybe worth a watch. Lucky for you, it's free on netflix streaming right now.