This introductory arc, which put Black Panther in Hell’s Kitchen and up against a Romanian super soldier, comes to a close. It’s been a fun ride if a little thin. T’Challa hasn’t exactly been the perfect hero, and while Hell’s Kitchen burns he strives to bring justice to the streets. There’s a mixture of nobility and naivete on display that doesn’t quite fit the character but it makes for some interesting set pieces.
The biggest flaw of this book has been T’Challa’s determination to stick it out and do this all on his own. He feels he really needs to follow Daredevil’s solo example and he openly states so on more than one occasion. This doesn’t really fit because Daredevil didn’t shy away from a decent team up. He generally would not let his home turf descend into such madness purely through pride. Also, T’Challa should be smarter than this because he’s been an Avenger; He knows the merit of help. When he mentions Daredevil understanding the neighborhood not needing Avengers, all I could think of was the finale of “Born Again.”
T’Challa assembles another wacky device, and his opponent charges different items and throws them around, but in the end it comes down to who can punch the hardest. There is some manuevering and strategy plays a part, but not as much as it should. For all the set up of this arc, it doesn’t all pay off as well as you might like it to. The reaction of Vlad to his two sons is genuine for his character, but it actively doesn’t explain why they still want to please him no matter what. Perhaps such is the curse of family?
Far too many lines that come from the characters mouths, be they T’Challa, Luke Cage, or Vlad’s son, Gabe, feel stilted and don’t work on the ear at all. They barely work on the page but they don’t match any actual person’s speech patterns. It’s a shame because sometimes David Liss has something to say but it ends up lost in translation.
Francesco Francavilla stages quite a decent brawl in the rain of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s the sort of defining tone that will make people remember this title long after it is gone. He makes the fire and blood count, and his representation of Vlad’s power set always pleases. The usual standard of coloring we expect from Francavilla is in full force here highlighting scenes and their undercurrent of emotion. Some panels look a little more rushed than others but overall it’s pretty on the eye.
This book has been a fun read throughout the first arc but it doesn’t bring anything to the table that hasn’t been done before. T’Challa needs to be used in new ways and the overall tone needs to possibly distance itself from Matt Murdock so as to allow the Black Panther to decide on his own way of running Daredevil’s old neighbourhood, though he’s only got about a month left to do it on his own. The ending tease of Kraven the Hunter is an exceptional splash page and hopefully bodes well for what is to come.