blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Black Panther (1998) #2

Black Panther  2The misadventures of Everett K. Ross continue, with writer Priest still hopping around the flashbacks to give the most bang for the two and a half bucks. It starts with Mephisto, last issue’s hilarious and extra cliffhanger. For some reason, Mephisto’s waiting for T’Challa; Ross (and Priest) don’t tell us (or Nikki, Ross’s boss, who he’s debriefing). Instead, we get these occasional check-ins on the odd couple sitting on a couch, Ross without any pants (but a Pez dispenser in his sock), and Mephisto silent until just the right moment.

Just the right moment for comedic effect. Priest makes Ross’s adventures cringe-worthy and absurdist; Mephisto handles the latter (at least until the mud wrestling), while the former has Ross showing up at the airport to pick up T’Challa blaring Kool & The Gang’s Jungle Boogie. No way they were doing that scene for the movie (Cracker and Martin, indeed). We also haven’t seen Ross and T’Challa have a regular scene together, but Ross implies he’s been the King’s U.S. handler before.

Meaning T’Challa knows Ross is a goober. I’m sure if so, Priest will get some solid laughs out of it later. Or at least hearty chuckles.

Ross still doesn’t get to losing his pants, but we do find out why everyone got arrested (the mud wrestling). Before then, however, Priest works on the B plot about T’Challa’s political problems back home. It’s T’Challa’s arc, while Ross’s ostensible A plot gives the comic such a distinct, immediate personality.

Then there are the drug dealers and the tough guy, “is he dangerously racist or was it just 1998” Brooklyn cop who seems like he’ll be back later. There’s also Black Panther action with T’Challa confronting the drug dealers a little bit later in the timeline. It’s a fascinatingly fractured timeline.

Excellent art from Mark Texeira, who—if I’m reading the credits right—is drawing over Joe Quesada’s panel breakdowns, with Alisha Martinez then doing “background assists.” Quesada’s credit is “storytelling,” and if he’s responsible for the pacing, he does a fantastic job. The comedy timing of the book is phenomenal, but the dramatic moves are good too.

Black Panther’s great.

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