Jungle Action #22
Issue(s): Jungle Action #22
This is an unusual title, even for this series, in that it's another acknowledgement of the US Bicentennial. But unlike Captain America or Dr. Strange, the Black Panther doesn't travel back in time. He sits and listens to a story told by Monica Lynne's mother. And this story only goes back 100 years, to around 1876, not long after the Ku Klux Klan was formed.
It's a story about a recently freed slave who is warned by the Klan not to go to the Freedman's Bureau, but he does anyway, only to find a pair of corrupt carpet bagging politicians.
And on his way home he is lynched by the Klan.
That's depressing, but what makes the story more interesting is that while her mother is telling it, Monica imagines an alternate version where the Black Panther was there at the time (typically the format is such that the real version of the story is on the left page while Monica's fantasy version is on the right), helping the story's protagonist stand up to the Klan and putting the politicians in their place.
It's almost like a Django Unchained style revenge fantasy, although of course the Panther is not lethally violent.
The main Klansman in the story is called the Soul Strangler.
Not sure if he was intended to eventually have some connection to the Dragon Circle alternative "Clan" seen in issue #19; we haven't really heard much about them since that initial issue.
Outside of all of that, i really liked seeing the Panther show up to this issue in a Wakandan Sonar Glider.
The Panther has been really passive in this series, and even in the previous Panther's Rage arc the high tech aspect of Wakanda was downplayed. So it's a nice reminder of who the character is supposed to be.
This was a good story but it of course does nothing to advance the Angela Lynne murder plot. It's said in the lettercol that:
T'Challa may be on the endangered species list, since sales have dropped during the course of our "Panther Vs. The Klan" epic... The reasons for such a drop aren't easy to determine. It could be the topic or, mayhap, the lack of super-villains in the last couple of books. It could also be distribution, covers, or even the fact that Don was going through several wing-din personal hassles at the time.
The next issue blurb talks up the debut of the villain Wind Eagle next issue, but next issue will actually be a reprint and by #24 the book is cancelled.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: I have the Black Panther appearing in Daredevil annual #4 between last issue and this one, which works well considering the Panther is arriving here on his Sonar Glider.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Might seem more obvious now but even in 1976 it was a wrong turn to put the Black Panther in a comic called "Jungle Action." It would have surely sold better if he had his own mag called simply "Black Panther" or even a variant like "T'Challa: the Black Panther" or "King of Wakanda" (in case they just didn't want to put the words "Black Panther" on the cover), or really almost anything other than "Jungle Action." Even in '76 they should have known better, but right there in the lettercol it's plain to see that they're still thinking of it as a "jungle comics" genre problem, and not seeing the Black Panther's potential outside of that one single narrow and constrictive genre.
Posted by: Holt | February 25, 2018 8:57 PM
Heh, the reason Black Panther was in this book was due to that compromise to make a book about him instead of just "white Tarzan ripoff reprints" in the book. Really they should have changed the title by this point considering T'challa's not even in the jungle at this point.
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 27, 2018 10:07 AM
This whole arc is so weak after Panther's Rage. It's as if T'Challa (or his editors) forgot what he went through in that story. Here he's in the US again, spending months with Monica's family for no well-defined purpose, his superheroic role just as powerless here in the face of societal disturbance as it was during much of Killmonger's rebellion. People keep asking him why he insists on wearing his costume and mask all over town, and they're right, it looks dumb and pointless. My guess is that this was an editorial edict, perhaps motivated by low sales, because it doesn't help the story make sense at all.
Posted by: Michael Grabowski | June 1, 2018 10:38 PM
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