Black Panther: The Bride


By Reginald Hudlin, Scot Eaton, Klaus Janson, Dean White & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-2107-7 (TPB)

If you’re still looking for a St. Valentines’ Day gift for your one and only (or one of many: I don’t judge even if I do reserve the right to scorn…), you won’t find much help here. At least you better not…

I do, however, have an intriguing, romantically-themed suggestion you can read for inspiration or, latterly, consolation…

Regarded as the first black hero in American comics and one of the first to carry his own series, Black Panther’s popularity and fortunes have waxed and waned since July 1966 when he first attacked the Fantastic Four as part of an extended plan to gain vengeance on the murderer of his father.

T’Challa, son of T’Chaka, is an African monarch whose secluded kingdom is the only source of a miraculous alien metal upon which the country’s immense wealth is founded. Those mineral riches – derived from a fallen meteor which struck the continent in lost antiquity – enabled him to turn his country into a technological wonderland.

Moreover, the tribal resources and the people have been eternally safeguarded by a cat-like human champion deriving incredible physical advantages from secret ceremonies and a mysterious heart-shaped herb simultaneously ensuring the generational dominance of the nation’s Panther Cult.

In recent years that continuity-mythology was retooled to reveal that the “Vibranium” mound had actually made the country a secret Superpower for centuries, but now increasingly makes Wakanda a target for subversion and incursion.

This slim, unassuming but extremely engaging Costumed Drama – available in trade paperback and eBook editions – collects Black Panther volume 4 #14-18 (May – September 2006). Set during the first Superhero Civil War, it tackles a thorny, perennial political issue with earthy wit and wisdom as the Great King of Wakanda confronts the most contentious issue of his reign thus far…

Previously: the dutiful son of Queen Mother Ramonda at last accedes to her increasingly strident demands that the nation needs an heir, and goes looking for a suitable queen. That turned into a full-blown fiasco but the needs of State remain, so the drama here begins as 4-chapter quest ‘Bride of the Panther’ sees the Panther eschew new flames and set off to woo and win back the first girl he ever loved…

With streetwise Power Man Luke Cage as his smirking wingman, T’Challa recalls his early days and a certain something…

Ororo Munroe AKA Storm is actually a lost daughter of a Kenyan princess and an American journalist. She grew up an orphan in Cairo following their deaths in a war. After joining Charles Xavier’s X-Men, she spends years fighting the world’s most deadly threats as part – and often leader – of the unloved, distrusted mutant hero horde.

As puberty triggered her mutant powers long ago, the wily thief left Egypt, walking across Africa, drawn by a yearning she could not explain. Eventually she settled with nomadic tribes, using her weather powers to ease their burdens. They called her “Goddess”. However, before she reached that part of her life, Ororo encountered a determined boy also trekking across the Dark Continent…

Young Prince T’Challa had single-handedly avenged the murder of his father T’Chaka and driven off the resource raiders of deranged scientist Ulysses Klaw, but before he could inherit the role of king and spiritual leader of his people there were certain trials and rituals to undertake.

Whilst wandering the plains of Africa in a walkabout manhood trial, he met a beautiful young girl with incredible powers trekking from Egypt to West Africa. Together they found love and survived a deadly attack by South African mercenaries. Ultimately, his sense of duty tore them apart. Years later, T’Challa found her again before once more rejecting her for the needs of Wakanda.

Now as she visits Africa, he has to make her forgive him, because no other woman can be his First Lady of Wakanda…

As Ororo makes him really earn her love, elsewhere malign forces gather. The possibility of a union between mutants and Wakandans is seen by many as a dangerous alliance. An Iraqi dictator creates his own super-powered Arabian Knight to attack them, Hydra attempts to abduct relatives Ororo doesn’t even know she has and even the Kenyan government are taking steps to maintain a status quo the gradually reunited couple couldn’t care less about…

Once Storm finally accepts the marriage offer, the insanity escalates. The Wakandans all adore their new queen-in-waiting and aren’t shy in letting her know it: the world’s fashion and media goes crazy at the prospect of a super Royal Wedding and become ultra-intrusive, and T’Challa’s old enemy Princess Zanda starts impersonating Ororo in the world’s most expensive boutiques, determined that only she shall have the Panther…

Ororo might be – grudgingly – okay with T’Challa’s old flames (the ladies in question, not so much), but tensions still abound. His formidable Dora Milaje bodyguards are imperiously withholding final judgement, SHIELD wants to take over security for the bride and groom and Cage is obnoxiously determined to organise the greatest Bachelor Party of all time…

The King only agrees after Invisible Woman Susan Richards pre-empts his stag debacle with a Bachelorette do unlike any other…

Eventually, the day arrives and a host of heroes and villains, politicos, family and journalists descend on Wakanda for the Wedding of the Century in ‘Here Comes a Storm’. It’s everything you’d expect from a ceremony packed with drunk and angry powered types, and a sinister psychic parasite hidden amongst the entourage and determined to possess the groom and rule the kingdom. Ororo is more concerned with last-minute detail. Wakanda’s god is the Panther Spirit: a live predator deity prone to eating anyone considered unworthy of joining the Royal family…

This deliciously light and frothy Fights ‘n’ Tights romp is perfectly balanced between suspense, comedy and brutal action (as all good weddings are) and also offers Jim McCann’s text feature ‘Diving the Design’ describing the creation of the wedding dress by Shawn Dudley.

What more could any True Romantic need?
© 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.