Jungle Action #20-21
Issue(s): Jungle Action #20, Jungle Action #21
In the lettercol for issue #22, it's said that McGregor "intended for the supermarket scene to be reminiscent of the early Lee and Kirby sequences that placed a superhero in an everyday situaation and recorded the public's reactions to his presence. So much for well-intentioned plans."
The supermarket scene as delivered feels more menacing, with Monica first getting a threat from the Klan...
...and then the supermarket goers and police attacking the Panther instead of the Klansman.
The conflict ends when the sympathetic Sheriff Tate shows up to make the police stand down. The tone is entirely different than a Lee/Kirby "the Thing tries to catch a cab" type of thing.
Later, the Panther investigates rumors of a secret Klan gathering (it's not said exactly why), and gets more than he bargains for.
He's subdued, tied to a cross, and set ablaze.
Meanwhile, Kevin Trublood delivers his treatise.
According to Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Trublood is a stand in for Don McGregor, who was adamant about writing his stories without editorial interference:
McGregor's Jungle Action #20 hit the newsstands in mid-December ; it included a monologue about standing up for ideals that continued on for seventeen panels... McGregor - going through a messy divorce, a custody battle, and health scares - refused to yield in the stories in which he was investing so much energy. "The pressure was on to bring in the Avengers," he said, "but it was important for a black hero not to have the white heroes come in and save the day."
Steve Gerber was apparently parodying McGregor's attitude here with the Space Turnip from Howard the Duck #2.
The Panther eventually escapes...
...and has to be put in the hospital. He's there for about two weeks but recovers faster than the doctors expected. Meanwhile, the Klan has planned a legal rally in Monica Lynne's town. The Panther and Trublood show up to disrupt the rally.
It's worth noting that these issues feature the real Klan, not the Dragon Circle "Clan". In that regard it's some pretty political stuff. This isn't a Sons of the Serpent bait 'n switch or awkward Steve Gerber symbolism.
They are handled... i don't want to say fairly, but somewhat realistically, anyway. Lines like "Normally, this man tends his hardware shop, dispensing tools and wisdom with each purchase" serve to humanize (but not exonerate!) the Klansmen. I also liked the menacing line when, at the Klan rally, they observe that "There are a lot of young people attending the meeting. A good sign. A very good sign."
But when Trublood and T'Challa show up, they burst the illusion the Klan is weaving by revealing that they recently attempted to burn T'Challa to death.
This is a case where the Panther appearing in costume is not just out of place, but actually counterproductive. Seeing T'Challa's blistered skin would have made the message much more compelling.
In any event, the rally winds up being inconclusive. A scuffle breaks out, and Monica's solitaire-loving dad even helps foil a gun shot...
...but then the issue just kind of ends.
There is glacial progress on the storyline regarding the death of Monica's sister Angela. While T'Challa is in the hospital, we get the official version of events.
There's really not much there that wasn't provided in briefer format in the first part of this story, and that's all we get on that front. The use of the Klan is certainly noteworthy and engaging, but they are effectively just the background for the story. The plot needs to actually move forward. McGregor's writing is often good, but sometimes comes off a bit awkwardly worded, especially when it's through Kevin Trublood's dialogue. The story is ambitious, and the art reflects that with interesting layouts and good emotion, but overall the book is not living up to what McGregor is trying to achieve.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Trublood says it was "three weeks ago" that he first got an estimate for repairs on his car windshield, which was damaged last issue. The Panther spends another "couple of weeks' time" recuperating in the hospital after escaping the Klan.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlack Panther, Jessica Lynne, Kevin Trublood, Lloyd Lynne, Monica Lynne, Roderick Tate
Was it the Klan or the Dragon Circle that attacked T'Challa at the supermarket?
Posted by: Michael | May 22, 2013 9:46 PM
They're not in uniform, but the one guy says the Klan with a K twice in his dialogue, and he references the gathering in the woods that the Panther later gets crucified at. The other guy mentions a Reverend, if that means anything.
The guy who talks to Monica has been instructed to say specific things, so if you have reason to believe it was actually the Dragon Circle, maybe he was deliberately meant to mislead? Although i don't know how you get across "Clan" vs. "Klan" when you're talking.
I've always hoped that Panther's Quest would get collected in a reprint with the thought that it might read better all at once instead of in 8 page installments.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 22, 2013 10:09 PM
The Reverend is eventually revealed to be the head of the Dragon's Circle, although to confuse matters further he was apparently involved with the Klan at one point.
Posted by: Michael | May 22, 2013 10:32 PM
Issue #20 was the first issue I picked up featuring the Black Panther. I was 6 years old, and did so when my father would take me to 7-11 for some comics and a Slurpee, which at the time were coming in the "collectible" plastic cups featuring Marvel Comics characters and their origins ( I emphasize collectible due to the fading of the artwork due to washing and reuse). I recall being struck by the splash page featuring a superhero in full costume shopping for groceries! I also recall seeing Billy Graham's name in the credits and thinking, "Oh, he does comics, too?" (Remember I was 6 soon-to-be 7, and I was thinking the minister, not the "Superstar" pro wrestler!). Because I am a native Tennesseean and despite my tender age, I was aware of the Klan and the terrible things they stood for. I recall the haunting images of the Klansmen overpowering T'Challa and tying him to the burning cross. Even as an adult with most of my forties in the rearview mirror, The Panther on the burning cross is still a powerful image.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 15, 2017 10:48 PM
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