Thursday, November 08, 2012

Black Panther - a different kind of monster

Last time I had to end the post before I was finished with the topic of Black Panther and Christopher Priest´s run especially, so in this post we will continue with it. I´m not sure if we will get to the Jack Kirby issues like promised but he will be definitely mentioned.

I´m now officially down to one post per month but I hope I can improve the quota - maybe with shorter posts. It´s just that I have a lot of stuff to do right now and the blog always ends up getting the short end of the stick.

My work also takes up more of my time because it´s the time of the year where all the leaves are falling. I feel like Sisyphus, the more leaves I pick up the more seem to be there and every time I have to add at least one extra hour for that. On top of it there are road works at the Rathaus in Ludwigsburg which was the station where I did most of my shopping / snack grabbing between work and home. So everytime you need to do something there you have to walk from the main station to Rathaus and back. Which is a lot of fun when you´re tired from work, let me tell you that. Also, since four or five different buslines have to take the same detour because of the road works there is always a traffic jam so it takes almost an eternity to get home when you finally manage to get a bus. But that´s just the way life works.

I finally got the issues of OUTSIDERS which I mentioned in my last post and since I have alread read them all I thought about making it my next post. But I´m afraid it´s going to be a longer one - or even a whole series of posts - so I´m sticking with the Black Panther for this one.

And I know that I promised to talk about the BLACK PANTHER issues of Jack Kirby but I just placed another comic order Today and one of the comics I ordered is issue 40. I´m guessin that´s where the whole storyline involving the Kirby issues starts so I´m waiting a bit longer for that part. But there are a few issues I wanted to mention of Christopher Priests BLACK PANTHER and the first one is issue 36 - and this would have at least a tiny relation to Halloween - which is the 100 PAGE MONSTER issue.

At the end of 2001 Marvel celebrated the 35th anniversary of such characters like Black Panther, Iron Man, the Avengers or Hulk with the so - called 100 page monster. Which meant that it was a triple - , quadruple - or whatever - sized issue which contained the regular 22 page story and was bumped up to 100 pages with various reprints of old issues.

Back at that time the regular cover price for a comic was around 2.50 and the Marvel Monsters cost an additional Dollar. Which seen from Today´s viewpoint looks pretty sweet. I mean, Today most comics give you a measly 22 pages for almost four bucks. So getting 100 pages for three bucks and a half is not bad. Okay, three quarters of the issue were reprints but for those who didn´t already have the issues it was a real treat. Some of them may have been included in the ESSENTIALS but here you got to see them in glorious full color. BLACK PANTHER 36 reprinted FANTASTIC FOUR 52 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ( the first appearance of the Black Panther ), FANTASTIC FOUR 53 also by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ( which contained his origin story ) and JUNGLE ACTION 8 by Don McGregor and Rich Buckler which features Monica Lynne and W´kabi who also play parts in Christopher Priests run.The issue also has all the covers, the usual letterpage, 2 pages with a map of Wakanda and the layout of Central Wakanda´s Palace Royal and 3 pages of notes from Everett K Ross´ journal with drawings by Sal Velluto. Just if you want to know how they came up with 100 pages.

Of course I had read the Fantastic Four issues in the german version when they were published by the Williams Verlag when I was still ar school. Ah, back then I wasn´t that big a Kirby fan but I was a really big fan of the Black Panther.

I might not have been aware of the concept of coolness at that time but somebody who singlehandedly took down the entire Fantastic Four still impressed me. By the way, if you´re wondering why the numbers of the german versions differ from the original version : because of the back up stories some issues were published in two parts, some issues just weren´t published in Germany and in most cases up to 4 pages were cut - or better censored because the german publishers liked to cut pages with fight scenes. I don´t remember all the details but if you want you can read about that and the complete publishing history of the Fantastic Four in DAS SAGTE NUFF issue 2.

One thing I do know is that on the cover of FANTASTIC FOUR 52 Black Panther wears the full face mask

while in the german version he wears the shortlived - yet misprinted - half face mask and the cape is shorter. I´m not sure if they did it because in the Avenger issues from that period he had the half face mask and a lighter costume with a different cape. Maybe they changed it, then saw that he was wearing the old costume in the issue and colored his face grey. In any case it´s just one of the many strange things you can pick up when you are going through the german covers of the book.

Not that they didn´t change things in the original Fantastic four comic. Notice how the Black Panther wears a similar costume to the one on the german cover on the unused cover for Fantastic Four 52.

Apparently somebody didn´t like it and they came up with the now classic one. Here is an all Kirby issue of COMICBOOK LEGENDS REVEALED that covers the fact that, to make matters worse, Jack Kirby kept on drawing Black Panther with the mask that didn´t cover his entire face even after the costume was changed in his first appearance. I´m not saying the original costume because this may not be his first one. Like all creations of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby it gets a bit murky how the Black Panther came about and who created what. According to Stan Lee he had the idea for a black superhero so he invented the Black Panther and Jack Kirby drew him. Another story tells that, like most of the stuff in Fantastic Four, Jack Kirby invented him although he first wanted to call him Coal Tiger. Which was covered in this addendum of COMICBOOK LEGENDS REVEALED that also has Jack Kirby´s original drawing of Coal Tiger.

There also is the possibility that Jack Kirby first pitched Coal Tiger as the first superhero and he was later turned into Black Panther. As usual the truth lies somewhere in the middle of all these theories but you can read a good analisation of the entire broughaha in this post called Stan Lee : " I Created The Black Panther " by Robert Steibel on KIRBY DYNAMICS.

Staying on the subject of Black Panther and COMICBOOK LEGENDS REVEALED there is another edition that has all the details about an unique crossover between BLACK PANTHER and QUANTUM AND WOODY when Christopher Priest was writing both books. I think I never made the connection.

And as a last aside - before returning to the 100 pages monsters and wrapping things up for Today - the first time that I ever heard of the Coal Tiger was when he made his debut as an alternate version of Black Panther in the GATHERERS storyline around issue 350 during the much maligned " Avengers leather jackets " period. There may have been some stinkers in there but I particularly liked the whole GATHERERS stuff.

Like I said there were various 100 page monsters and I have a few of them but I´m not so sure where they are. The ones I don´t have are AMAZING SPIDER - MAN 20 which reprints issues 25, 58 and 192 of said title

and THOR 32 which reprints issues 136, 272, 363 and the Tales Of Asgard back - ups from THOR 127 and 128.

FANTASTIC FOUR 54 - which is somewhere in my collection but I have no idea where - reprints Annual 6 and issue 176.

The same is true for HULK 33 which reprints issues 204, 205 and 335. Contrarywise I definitely know where I have AVENGERS 27 but it´s just too much work to get the issue right now. AVENGERS was one of the titles that had two 100 pages monster issues, the other being AVENGERS 48. AVENGERS 27 reprinted issues 101, 150, 151 and Annual 19. The reprinted issues in AVENGERS 48 are 97 to 100 which in this case makes a lot of sense. The Kree / Skrull War is one of the most reprinted Avengers stories of all time which is totally earned. It´s one of the best drawn and best written Avengers stories if not THE best ever. But the following issues have not been included in any collection that I know of so it was nice that they were included in these two 100 page monsters.

Now the 100 page monster I kept for last is IRON MAN 46 and the reason for that is that I found it and am actually holding it in my hand right now. It reprints issue 78 by Bill Mantlo and George Tuske and issues 140 by David Micheline and Bob Layton and 141 by David Micheline, John Romita Jr and Bob Layton. I´m not 100 percent sure but I don´t think they are available in any collection and it´s a nice addition to the THE MANY ARMORS OF IRON MAN trade that includes issues 142 to 144. In any case these 100 page monster pack a whole lot of bang for the buck and they are totally worth it if you can find them at a reasonable price. Especially when you look at the relation between cost and content of Todays comics.

And that´s all for Today as it is already half past two. We´ll take a break from Black Panther with the next post which will probably be all about Jim Aparo on THE OUTSIDERS without Batman.

Since I had so much trouble in finding a video that´s somehow related to Black Panther Todays video ties in with another one I posted not too long ago. It was the one for LINUS AND LUCY, the most famous track of all the PEANUTS movies. Since I found a CD with it on amazon I´ve been playing it nonstop. I also found a few of the PEANUTS movies at the 1 EURO shops in Ludwigsburg although i´ll probably do a seperate post about it in the near future. Anyway, the video I´m posting Today is the FLASH BEAGLE song by Joey Scarbury and Desiree Goyette from IT´S FLASHBEAGLE, CHARLIE BROWN ( of course inspired by the movie FLASHDANCE ) included as an extra on the SNOOPYS FAMILY REUNION DVD. In the movie they only use parts of it but it´s totally worth to be heard in full length. And speaking of full length : you can find the whole FLASHBEAGLE movie on YouTube.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

Get me Steve Rogers and the President on the phone. In that order.

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