Black Panther #1 (1977)
Marvel legend Jack Kirby presents Black Panther in his first ongoing series! While helping Abner Little recollect a precious artifact, Black Panther runs afoul of the Collectors! And in the midst of the tussle…an ancient time machine is activated! Enter Hatch-22, a creature from a time and space unknown.
In his very first solo ongoing series, Black Panther comes to life with Jack Kirby, Mike Royer and Dave Hunt at the helm for a story that many are now likely to find a bit strange thanks to a Brass Frog and its impact on time, but captures the essence of how fun comics of this era were. It also helped pave the way for a character that continues to stand the test of time as one of Marvel’s greatest achievements.
While you may not find many fans who point to Black Panther #1 as their favorite comic, there is a timeless sense of classic comicbook antics at play that make the issue an enjoyable read for anyone. As a character, Black Panther was hardly new to Marvel comics, after having appeared in Fantastic Four in the late 60’s and even starring in Jungle Action in the early 70’s, it wouldn’t be until 1977 that Black Panther received his first self-titled ongoing series. Although Kirby himself didn’t remain on the series for long, the first issue shows that he helped to define a long lasting vision of the character.
It’s a bit difficult to put into perspective the actual narrative that unfolds in Black Panther#1. The Brass Frog that has so many whimsical villains in pursuit has some pretty crazy powers, and Black Panther knows that it’s too dangerous to allow anyone to have it. There are some concepts that didn’t age as well as you’d hope, such as “Mister Little”, but it’s full of action and the introduction of Princess Zanda is certainly memorable. The work from Dave Hunt make everything pop with vibrant colors, but it can feel slightly overbearing and causes some of the storytelling to get muddled at times. Still, it’s a very well structured story that creates an enjoyable pace and ends with a cliffhanger reveal that makes you want to quickly dive into the second issue.
There is a lot going on in Black Panther #1 and it makes for a fun time, but aside from the ending, you might not really remember much after putting it down. Mister Little’s death is underscored by much larger events that even cast a shadow on his intentions, but Black Panther’s unyielding tenacity allows him to be more than just a reactionary presence in a story grander than he can control. The creative team does a good job of keeping the focus on Black Panther and showing how the Brass Frog can only attract trouble for the superhero. The ending is one that drives home the point that this series is a bit on the weird side. We don’t get much lore surrounding Black Panther’s abilities, origins or motivations but after such an extensive history, this series feels determined to take the character out of whatever comfort zone he may have been in, for better or worse.
It’s not perfect by any means, and the sheer wackiness of the story could make it hard to take seriously, but it’s still an issue that is worth reading for any fan of the character. Despite the sometimes silly atmosphere that surrounds the story, the strong artistic work from everyone involved will make this a worthwhile addition to anyone’s collection. As a first issue in Black Panther’s first ongoing series, it stands out not because of a particularly powerful or emotional story, but as a wild example of what can be achieved with a strong character foundation.
In his very first ongoing series, Black Panther comes to life with Jack Kirby, Mike Royer and Dave Hunt at the helm for a story that many are now likely to find a bit strange thanks to a Brass Frog and its impact on time, but captures the essence of how fun comics of this era were.
Sunday Classics: Black Panther #1 (1977): The Brass Frog is Yours!
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 7.5/107.5/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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