Review by Ian Keogh
Reginald Hudlin delivered a generally very good opening to his Black Panther run, introducing his version of the character and his past in Who is the Black Panther? This was followed by an underwhelming team-up with the X-Men, and we arrive back at Bad Mutha, which is also problematical, yet now out of print and commanding prices that have no bearing on the quality.
We start with half a chapter’s background on Luke Cage, how he became the super strong and bulletproof man he is today, and establishing the respect he’s always had for the Black Panther. There’s then a set-to in a club initiated by the US’ highest grossing rapper, before a bunch of ninjas attack the Panther and Cage. It’s set against a very verbose background of it being traditional for the Black Panther to marry and ensure his line continues, so he needs to find a wife (which concludes in The Bride). From there Hudlin throws in the Falcon and Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu.
Scott Eaton’s a decent enough action artist, his pencils given some grit via Klaus Janson’s inks, but the pages are crowded, and that’s before Hudlin’s high word count is factored in.
As denoted by the collection’s title, Hudlin’s attempting to deliver a graphic novel version of the 1970s exploitation movie. Cheaply made, action content and posing was prioritised over plot, and a second two-chapter pastiche follows with the Panther and Cage now joined by Blade, Brother Voodoo and Monica Rambeau, then without a code name. Vampires are on the loose in New Orleans, exploiting the flood conditions.
There’s a valid point to be made via what Hudlin’s done. That pretty well every one of Marvel’s non-white heroes can be folded into four chapters is shameful, and thankfully now a matter being addressed. Unfortunately, this alone doesn’t make for sterling reading. There are some nice touches, the efficacy of the Panther’s female protectors, even if the need for them isn’t entirely logical, Blade and Cage staring each other out behind their shades, and a well thought out conclusion, but nothing worth the current Amazon used copy price.