I remembered Priest and Mark Texeira’s Black Panther being good, but I didn’t remember it being a comedy. I also didn’t remember Black man Priest writing it for the white audience. His protagonist is CIA guy Everett K. Ross, who thinks T’Challa’s just like any other diplomatic liaison and isn’t anywhere near as badass as everyone makes him out to be.
Ross admits he’s wrong real quick.
He narrates the story, possibly as a report to his superior (and lady friend) Nikki. She’s frustrated with how long he takes to get to the point, but Priest’s having way too much fun with Ross’s fractured narrative. We open with a pants-less Ross cowering on a toilet, scared of a rat, abandoned by T’Challa and his security detail. Over the comic, we get the backstory on how Ross got the mission, some of what brought T’Challa to New York, and the tantalizing promise of a devil.
Now, Marvel-616 has any number of potential devils, and even as Nikki tries to get Ross to hurry up getting out the punchline, he waits until the last couple pages. It’s worth the wait.
There are some scenes without Ross’s humorous blabbering—he doesn’t just blabber in the narration, but in dialogue, too–mainly about T’Challa’s trip to New York. There’s been a murder tied to one of his charities, and he’s come to town to investigate. Ross is along for the ride. Somewhere along the way, he loses his pants.
Texeira’s art is good. At times it’s a little static (and the rat’s strangely missing from the splash page when it ought to be an over-the-shoulder shot), but mostly on the talking heads. Texeira delivers on the action, which is somewhat sparse (since Ross is so bad at concise storytelling). Priest’s good at concisely rendering Ross’s lack of conciseness. It’s a lot of fun.
And whatever the revealed devil may bring, especially given Priest’s inventiveness, is very promising. Presumably, T’Challa will get a bit more character, too, instead of guest-starring in his own book.