Marvel Knights 20th #4
The mystery of the forgotten heroes unravels as it is revealed that Reed Richards bestowed a machine capable of removing memories from the masses to T'Challa for safe keeping in Wakanda. Where this scenario went wrong has yet to be revealed but for now, the major questions regarding the direction of this narrative have been answered.
The rest of this issue, among the strongest entries in the series thus far, spotlights T'Challa in his forgotten life. There is a distinct air of It's a Wonderful Life as we follow T'Challa through his daily life of working at a soup kitchen and questioning the type of man "he used to be", stopping would-be muggers and racists along the way. After an encounter with the police, T'Challa is taken in on charges only to be set free by Ben Donovan, Scumbag Esq.-- provided he files no reports against corrupt police.
As with the other heroes, memories start to return slowly for T'Challa, leading him eventually to an underground lair loaded with supervillains!
As I mentioned before, in time for the holidays Vita Ayala takes on a Marvel Comics version of It’s a Wonderful Life with T’Challa playing the role of George Bailey. The most recurring theme for this series thus far has been the repeating question of what life would be like for our various heroes if they lacked their defining missions. T’Challa, removed from the throne and freed of his Nationalistic and global responsibilities, responds as we would expect him to, devoting his life to helping others. Just as with Frank, who finds himself punishing in a different form or the hot-headed Donald Blake, this series gestures at an innate nature in these characters, perhaps in a way that both celebrates the past and, in a way, condemns equally those who stray too far from the intent of characters.
Which brings us to this: as we listen to the keyboard tirades that propagate across fandom with the ferocity of a virulent plague regarding “changes” to our most beloved characters, I notice a distinct failure of differentiation between things that alter details of the character and those that alter the “spirit” of the character. All of that is to say that Donny Cates and the writers he has teamed with on this series are clearly in the minority in that they understand the inherent traits that made us fall in love with certain characters are those that, regardless how the narrative changes, become immutable, ingrained in the very DNA of these creations. That, dear readers, is what has made this overlooked series so special.
Marvel Knights 20th continues to be a beautiful examination of a by-gone era for Marvel Comics. Hope springs eternal as Cates gathers some of the hottest industry talent to revisit this era of story-driven, character-centric narratives.
Marvel Knights 20th #4: Remember Time George Bailey Found Out Everybody Was Better Off Without Him?
Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 8.5/108.5/10
Color - 8.5/108.5/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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