Posted September 16, 2010 by Norby Ela in Comics

BLACK PANTHER – The Man Without Fear?!

Beginning this December, T’Challa of Wakanda prowls a new kind of jungle and New York City gains a very different kind of protector as The Black Panther comes to Hell’s Kitchen.

With issue #513, DAREDEVIL morphs into BLACK PANTHER: THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR under the guidance of writer David Liss and artist Francesco Francavilla as the fallout of Shadowland causes a drastic shift in the landscape of the Marvel Universe.

“T’Challa is no longer the king of Wakanda, and he has no more vibranium,” says Liss, touching on recent changes to the life of his new leading man. “After the trials of DoomWar, he’s looking to figure out who he is; what it means to be T’Challa without all the roles, responsibilities and powers that have defined him for so long. When an opportunity arises to relocate to Hell’s Kitchen, it seems like exactly the kind of test he’s looking for.”

While Liss could not speak on what becomes of Hell’s Kitchen’s previous protector to necessitate this shift as those monumental events have yet to unfold in the pages of SHADOWLAND and its associated titles, he did reveal what brought an Edgar Award-winning novelist like himself to this project:

“I was extremely excited to have the chance to work on such an exciting reworking of an established Marvel hero and I’ve always been a big Daredevil fan, so the opportunity to tell a story set in that milieu was a real thrill for me.

“I am still relatively new to comics, but this is the third project I’ve done with Marvel, and I’ve learned an incredible amount over the past couple of years,” continues the author, who last penned 2009’s DARING MYSTERY COMICS 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL. “In many ways, scripting a comic book is a very different kind of writing [from doing novels], but in more important ways it is a variation on the kind of storytelling I’ve been doing for years.”

Joining Liss and T’Challa will be artist Francesco Francavilla, who made a splash recently with his series of “Who Will Bet the New Man Without Fear?” posters and now looks forward to helping answer that very question.

“[T’Challa’s look] is still very recognizable, [however] a few changes were needed since this is a new Black Panther who doesn’t have all the high tech gear from Wakanda, but instead is more like an urban fighter in this metropolitan setting,” explains Francavilla of his approach to the character. “The silhouette is still unmistakably Black Panther.”

“Francesco is an amazing artist and I love seeing his spin on scripts,” praises Liss. “His style is moody and atmospheric, but also vivid and dynamic. And this is my first time working with an artist who does his own colors, so it’s great fun to get near finished pages showing up in my inbox.”

But while Liss and Francavilla have forged a sturdy creative partnership, what has become of T’Challa’s own partner, name his wife, Storm?

“Storm is with the X-Men in Utopia,” reveals the writer. “[Her and T’Challa’s] relationship has not changed; they are still married, in love and committed to each other. At the same time, they have their own things they have to do. Storm not only accepts that T’Challa has to be alone right now, she insists on it because she understands that is what he needs. T’Challa is out to test his limits and see what he’s made of; that would be hard to do if every time he got in trouble Storm came flying in and zapped his enemies.”

Expect those enemies to be a mix of faces familiar to longtime Daredevil fans as well as freshly dangerous threats such as the ominously-named Vlad the Impaler.

“I love the classic Hell’s Kitchen villains and plan to bring some of them into these stories, but I wanted T’Challa to face someone new in the first arc,” says Liss. “In the wake of Shadowland, it’s a perfect time for an ambitious man who has been waiting for the right time to strike. Vlad is a Romanian immigrant who has been hired muscle for a long time but now is trying to establish himself as a power in New York City. He is a dedicated husband and parent, a fair and reasonable boss, and has a solid work ethic. He is also a brutal killer with super powers of his own [who] is determined to crush [T’Challa] before he becomes a real threat.”

But external enemies won’t comprise the Panther’s only threats, as some of his greatest challenges come from within.

“As far as allies, he’ll have some offers, but insist on going it alone and doing it secretly; it was important to me that I establish that T’Challa will never ask for help,” Liss comments on the hero’s outlook. “I also wanted to give him a secret identity that matters, so keeping to himself and keeping a low profile are difficulties he will regularly face.

“He will face a lot of moral dilemmas down the road. This is Hell’s Kitchen after all, and things are very often not quite what they seem.”

However, no matter how much the odds may be stacking up against The Black Panther, Liss still feels T’Challa can rise to the occasion-eventually.

“In this opening arc, we are going to see T’Challa take some blows, get beaten up, make some mistakes. He is still a man of purpose, honor and determination, but he is also figuring out his new limits, trying to make a place for himself in an alien culture and stepping into some very formidable shoes as he becomes a man without fear.”


Norby Ela

FlipGeeks Operations Editor, Managing Editor of Comics, Komiks, Manga, atbp.