Jungle Action #6-8
Issue(s): Jungle Action #6, Jungle Action #7, Jungle Action #8
As for the first problem, McGregor sets up an interesting conflict between the new technology and the old tribal ways in Wakanda. This was perhaps necessary due to the few depictions of Wakanda post-Fantastic Four #52-53, which mainly showed a primitive setting and not Kirby's techno-jungle.
The Black Panther and his soldiers, as well as his adversaries, do use technologically advanced devices and weapons, but they are viewed with distrust by a percentage of the Wakandan population. This gives a good explanation as to why T'Challa may have eschewed such gadgets, especially during times when his subjects were doubting his commitment to them.
One potential area of complaint in this series is its wordiness. There are often huge chunks of text, and even people's dialogue is very verbose.
This is not the wordiness of a Roy Thomas, however. It isn't just exposition that duplicates the efforts of the art. McGregor's captions and word balloons compliment the text, often addressing issues on a different level than the visual.
The art is very good. Buckler's figures are strong and realistic, which is especially enjoyable at a time when so much of the art looks rushed and sketchy. Janson's inking adds a further dimension, however. Unlike most inkers, he is not afraid to be seen, and his use of shadow and darkness will define this series even after Buckler leaves.
These first three issues set the stage for the Panther's Rage series. The Panther rescues an old man from a pair of goons (the two henchmen, Tayete and Kazibe, whose unfortunate encounters with the Panther will be a source of subtle comic relief throughout this series)...
...but the man dies soon after. This is the opening salvo in a civil war launched by Erik Killmonger. Taking advantage of the unease among the people due to technological improvements that T'Challa has introduced and the fact that he has spent so much time away from the country (and the fact that he brought an outsider, Monica Lynne, home with him), Killmonger leads a rebellion that results in the massacre of a village. Panther hunts Killmonger down and the first issue of this arc ends with Killmonger defeating the Panther and throwing him off a waterfall.
T'Challa survives, barely, and is found downriver by Monica as she bathes.
Killmonger, thinking T'Challa dead, sends his lieutenant Venomm, a white snake charmer with an acid-scarred face...
...to the Vibranium mound along with a Death Regiment. They have apparently been secretly mining the mound from below. Black Panther defeats and captures Venomm.
Then another agent of Killmonger named Malice infiltrates the royal Wakandan palace...
...but fails to rescue Venomm. Taku, the pensive communications officer, spends time talking with Venomm. W'Kabi, the military director, attempts to control his rage over T'Challa's seeming lack of action. Monica continues to get herself in trouble with the Wakandans as she interrupts the Black Panther's training rituals.
The Panther's Rage story is difficult. It is very wordy and there are several layers of context. Attempting to read it as a simple action story is possible...
....but not very rewarding, especially since the books are so verbose and the plot isn't paced just for fight scenes. Reading so many other comics from this time period, i had to deliberately shift gears in order to fully enjoy these issues. This is the one time so far where my chronological placement of books potentially hindered instead of helped; it may make more sense to read this series in isolation. Nonetheless, the Black Panther's history up until this point is relevant. McGregor doesn't create a new character to tack onto the Black Panther shell; he uses BP's history and past continuity to analyze and develop this complex character and interesting setting.
Per Mark's comment, here's the updated map from issue #8:
Issues #6-7 both have reprints from Lorna the Jungle Queen in the back. Issue #6's reprint features Lorna herself (if you're interested, it's from Lorna the Jungle Queen #6, and she fights another woman who dresses up as her, but her monkey is able to determine which one is real). Issue #7 reprints a story from Lorna the Jungle Queen #22, and it's about Pondo the Elephant. Pondo is challenged by a young bull named Kindu, but Kindu learns to respect Pondo and allows him to retain control of the herd while he guards Pondo from afar. They're fun, simple stories.
Dwayne McDuffie once wrote a nice write-up of this series. That link has rotted away, so i'm preserving it in full here:
Alan Thompkins interrupted my one-on-none backyard basketball game with some important news. "The Hulk is gonna fight Thor. It's supposed to be out already."
Quality Rating: A-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBlack Panther, Kazibe, Killmonger, Malice (Killmonger minion), Monica Lynne, Preyy, Taku, Tanzika, Tayete, Venomm, W'Kabi
A 2nd more detailed map of Wakanda(with corrected ocean) appears in #8.
An editorial explaining the series' genesis appears in #7, written by Steve Gerber, who had otherwise nothing else to do with the title(although he may have handled the letters column).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 9, 2012 9:23 PM
Taku, the pensive communications officer, spends time talking with Venomm. Taku, the military director, attempts to control his rage over T'Challa's seeming lack of action.
The second Taku should be W'Kabi. I'm reading this series and it is pretty enjoyable. Out there in terms of creativity that reminds me of what Jim Steranko did with Nick Fury. I am very surprised that Mark graded this with an A. Even the great stories so far, I've seen him grade with a B or B+ so this shows he must've really enjoyed this run.
Posted by: Ryan | June 16, 2013 9:32 AM
Klaus Janson confirmed in Amazing Heroes #155 that this was his first comics work.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 10, 2015 12:20 AM
Just pulled out My Jungle Actions and if it were not for these issues developing the many layers that take T'Challa to a very 3-Dimensional character, he would only satisfy basic face value needs of having a African-American guy in the line-up. Instead, he is now an introperspective soul and a Man of inspired will first.
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | April 2, 2016 1:55 AM
Here's a link to a great, transcribed Skype interview with Donny McG,
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | July 12, 2016 8:56 AM
I'm looking forward to reading this now that I picked up the Black Panther Panther's Rage TPB.
Posted by: clyde | March 2, 2017 8:45 PM
As Clyde did, I recently acquired the Panther's Rage TPB. So far the stories and art have been fantastic, but fnord's assessment of the text is spot on. While the story payoffs are worth the slog and mind-wandering that may accompany them, Don McGregor makes Chris Claremont look like he utilizes an Ernest Hemingway-like economy. Still, the discerning reader cannot help but applaud McG's efforts at creating a more literate approach to the superhero story. By the way, I hope I didn't let my own propensity for $10 run wild and make this comment a slog or yawner for those who see it.:-)
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 20, 2017 11:40 PM
Correction:My own propensity for $10 WORDS run wild. Guess that's what I get for using said words!:-)
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 20, 2017 11:42 PM
In the aforementioned Panther's Rage TPB, along with T'Challa's first appearances in FF #52-53, there are bonus features including alternate covers, layouts, pages of plot and script, and even photos of Don McGregor from the time period. Seeing those old pictures was neat because, at least to these four eyes, McG bears a resemblance to the late, great comedian George Carlin, with the long hair but minus the beard.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 14, 2017 9:16 PM
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