February is coming and with it the long awaited film Black Panther, but many geeks and non-geeks alike may be wondering who is the Black Panther? Well, if you don’t know the answer to that question then Reginald Hudlin and John Romita‘s comic published in 2005 is where you want to start!
Hudlin is an award winning filmmaker, director, producer and writer. He produced Django: Unchained and The Boondocks among many others. He recently won The African-American Film Critics Association Salute to Excellence Award and has written over seven Black Panther graphic novels beginning with Who is the Black Panther? In this comic you’ll experience Hudlin’s ability to create natural dialogue, straightforward yet interesting story arcs, and a great introduction to the culture and politics of the nation of Wakanda.
What’s most interesting about this comic is how we are introduced to the Black Panther, not as the man behind the name but rather the family, the people, and the legacy of its past generations. What’s more, we get a lot of that history through the villains’ eyes and narrations — most notably from Cannibal and Klaw. As it turns out, Black Panther isn’t just passed down in the family, it’s earned through a series of tests. Only if someone passes them, one of which is defeating the current Black Panther in hand-to-hand combat, can they hold that title.
The emphasis on Wakanda’s political structure and religious traditions are important to note since they are expressions of Hudlin’s creative voice which he has openly explained as a way for him to “shape public debate or at least get people to think.” His motivation to create thought provoking stories can be seen through the interactions between national leaders and the dialogue between enemies.
I tell these stories because I want to shape public debate or at least get people to think….I love the arts and I love the storytelling aspect of it, but I also love the idea of influencing people. . . how they think and how they feel. – Reginald Hudlin