In the third episode in a row introducing new Avengers, this one brings the Black Panther into the Marvel Animated Universe and the world of Avengers Assemble. But can even the combined forces of the Black Panther and the Avengers stop the menace of Ulysses Klaue? Find out in my review of “Panther’s Rage,” after the jump.
The Black Panther
I met the Black Panther in my very first Avengers comic, issue #106, and he quickly became one of my favorite Avengers. He was returning to the team after time away just as I began my journey with Earth’s mightiest heroes. T’Challa, also known as Luke Charles back in those days, looked to be just a guy in a catsuit, but man oh man, was I wrong.
I soon learned the Panther was also the king of his own technologically advanced nation Wakanda, a natural leader, a stealthy fighter, a scientific genius, a teacher, notably Marvel’s first black superhero, and just darned cool. Early on I learned of his rogues gallery, forgotten foes like Man-Ape, the Lion God, and of course, Klaw. I loved me some T’Challa.
As we open this episode, with King T’Challa addressing the United Nations General Assembly, we feel the echoes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and especially Captain America: Civil War quite strongly. The sequence is Captain America and Black Panther focused, features an assault by Crossbones and even a mention of Sokovia. Similar yet different, showing how the MAU diverges from the MCU.
Speaking of showing, I disliked how writer Eugene Son (who’s usually on target) used T’Challa’s speech as a telling device to introduce the character and his background. It’s seemed amateurish. I also didn’t like the Black Panther’s animated look with all the Jim Lee DC Comics New 52 striping on it. He appears more a silver tabby than a sleek black cat. And the less said about Crossbones’ Batman ’66 vibe, with his Crossbones-cycle and Crossbones-gun, the better.
Captain America however comes off very well in the opening sequence. He’s heroic, authoritative, even funny. I loved the bits with the selfie-taking bodyguard and Cap mentioning he’d been dead, and “didn’t care for it.” Ironic that, because in the comics, it’s Crossbones who killed Captain America at the close of the comics version of Civil War.
The Black Panther steps in to finish the fight, and takes Cap’s shield, proclaiming that it belongs to him and the people of Wakanda. If one goes by the idea that all vibranium belongs to Wakanda (except for in the Savage Land, I suppose, but obviously not yet known by the MAU Avengers), that logic could work. Where did Howard Stark get the vibranium to make the shield originally? Good question.
Claws and Klaws
Seeking answers, four Avengers – Cap, Iron Man, Thor, and Hawkeye – go to Wakanda, and risking an international incident, sneak under their defenses to see the king. Obviously there are no Sokovia Accords in the MAU. After a clash with the Dora Milaje, the king’s bodyguards, and some Mission: Impossible playtime by Cap, the Avengers get to meet with the Panther.
We learn that the shield, in a weak plot point, is merely bait for the real villain. If this was the case, why couldn’t the Panther have simply asked Cap for the shield? Why go through all this trickery? And the villain is Ulysses Klaue, in his MCU form. Why does it have to be Klaw? As I mentioned, T’Challa does have a number of enemies, why is it always Klaw?
Tell and Show
The Avengers and the Black Panther are forced to work together against Klaw. This leads to more telling rather than showing as we learn Cap knew the Panther’s father T’Chaka, and that not only did he and Howard Stark help defend Wakanda from a Hydra invasion, the vibranium in the shield was a gift. Thor does more telling later to reinforce the Panther’s behavior and personality.
It’s not all bad though. We do finally get to see some form of the comics version of Klaw. Of course it’s armor a la Iron Man rather than a sound construct. There’s also the grin on Cap’s face when Iron Man and T’Challa engage in a pissing contest regarding the superiority of Wakandan technology over Stark tech. Priceless.
The Black Panther learns from the Avengers and vice-versa, and Klaw/Klaue is defeated. Everything turns out all right, Captain America even approaches T’Challa with the idea of joining the Avengers. Aneka of the Dora Milaje accompanied them against Klaw and helped as much as anyone, why was she not asked as well? Sexist much, Cap?
As much as I loved seeing the Black Panther and especially with him as a potential Avenger in the future, this was really a subpar episode. Predictable and visually uninspired, I really wanted more from this episode.
Next: Finally, the return of Ant-Man!