Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Before The Black Panther...LionMan!

Think the Black Panther was the first high-tech Black superhero?
Decades before him, a hero stalked the jungles and plains, defending them from evil men!
He's not only a scientist and athlete, but an American, as well!
LionMan made his first and only appearance in All-Negro Comics #1 (1946), a unique title for a number of reasons you can read about HERE!
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Monday, February 12, 2018

Not Who You Think / One-Shot Hero: BLACK PANTHER

Prince T'Challa, Marvel's first Black superhero, ruler of Wakanda, husband of Storm, a Mighty Avenger...
1) Who is he?
2) Where did he come from??
3) What are his powers???
4) Why does he have a tail????
Of all those questions, we can only answer #3: Agile as a cat (obviously), expert in hand-to-hand combat, and probably good with the knife he carries.
Since he only made one appearance, in Centaur's Stars & Stripes #3 (1941), we will never know what his creator, writer/artist Paul Gustavson, had in mind for him.
Gustavson, though not a "big" name, did contribute several long-running characters to Golden Age comics history at Timely (Marvel), Quality, and Centaur, including The Fantom of the Fair (FantoMan), The Human Bomb, The Angel, two archer-heroes; The Arrow and Alias the Spider, and Man of War.
He also worked on Blackhawk, Uncle Sam, and other Quality Comics characters.
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Thursday, February 8, 2018

DAREDEVIL "Night of the Panther" Conclusion

...The Black Panther is drawn into a manhunt for Daredevil, who faces certain death due to blood poisoning!
The delirious and disoriented blind hero had managed to evade his pursuers, recovering enough to remember his girlfriend Karen Page was being held at his alter-ego Matt Murdock's apartment by assassin/robot creator Starr Saxon...who knows Murdock is Daredevil!
But the Panther has tracked Murdock/Daredevil to the apartment, and is first to confront Saxon...
DD and BP did, indeed, meet up several more times in the Silver and Bronze Ages, in the pages of both Daredevil and The Avengers!
Since that era, the relationship has been, more or less, ignored.
Starr Saxon kept tormenting DD for another couple of issues before meeting a temporary demise and being resurrected as MachineSmith!
One aspect which, in retrospect, seems obvious (but wasn't at the time) is that Saxon is gay, a matter made quite clear in his later MachineSmith incarnation.
Barry Smith has stated that was, in fact, the intent and that Saxon's feminine hands and fey gestures were meant to be subtle enough to get by the Comics Code Authority!
Compare Saxon's pointy-fingered hands with both Daredevil's and the Black Panther's square-fingered ones.
(One of Kirby's artistic quirks, which Smith imitated, was to give all males, no matter how big or small, strong or scrawny, those famous square fingers, while giving all females, no matter what physical build, long pointy fingers.)
However, Barry attributes his lack of artistic experience at the time to not being able to convey that as succesfully as he intended!
So, was Marvel's Daredevil #52 (1969) one of the first "politically-correct" comics, featuring a blind hero, a Black hero, and a gay villain?
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(which contains this tale...but in black-and-white)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

DAREDEVIL "Night of the Panther" Part 1

There are stories involving The Black Panther from the '60s and '70s that have been "lost"...
...either reprinted in other characters' collections or have never been reprinted at all!
This one has been reprinted, but not in color, and not where you'd think!
Guess Daredevil's been found, eh, Saxon?
Want to see how this story turns out?
Written by Roy Thomas, penciled by Barry Windsor-Smith (during his Kirby/Steranko phase), and inked by longtime pro Johnny Craig, Marvel's Daredevil #52 (1969) is a dizzying smorgasbord of experiments in page design, perspectives, and color usage, some of which work, and some don't.
For example, here's pages 2-3 from the b/w French reprint...

Interesting to see what the primitive attempts at color enhancement both conceal and emphasize, eh?
Speaking of "conceal and emphasize"...did you note anything...unusual...about Starr Saxon?
We'll go into detail about what Roy, Barry, and Gene Colan who penciled the first chapter of this plotline intended!
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(which contains this tale...but in black-and-white)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Black Panther...UNMASKED!

As most Silver Age comics fans know, Marvel's Black Panther debuted in Fantastic Four #52 under this cover in 1966 (making him 52 years old this year!).
But, did you know he almost premiered under this cover...
Note the Black Panther's figure was photostatted and "flopped" (reversed) and the exposed parts of his face were covered for use on the published version!
When Marvel reprinted this issue in their Marvel's Greatest Comics book in the 1970s, they couldn't use the published cover, since the negatives and photostats used gray screens on the Black Panther's figure and most of the background, so a new cover by Jim Starlin and Joe Sinnott was comissioned with the Panther in his then-current, non-caped costume with blue highlights...
When this tale was reprinted in Italy, a pre-publication photostat of the printed version of #52 was found (without gray screens on the Panther's figure) showing the Panther's face as well as the cape as seen in the original, unpublished version...
It's TRUE, oh Faithful Fan! (As Stan Lee used to say)
Heck of a way to start off Black History Month, eh?
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(Featuring The Black Panther's premiere two-parter and Klaw's debut as Master of Sound!)