Friday, February 24, 2017

Panther's Rage - Jungle Kings!

"Panther's Rage" comes to a climax in issue seventeen of Jungle Action as Erik Killmonger finally launches his all-out attack on the heart of Wakanda. Leading his assembled troopers and a multitude of giant dinosaurs he brings destruction and mayhem to the settled and industrialized center of the kingdom. It has been a full year since the Panther returned to Wakanda and first confronted Killmonger atop the great waterfall. Since then he's had to do a lot of soul searching and confront many weird menaces, some created wrought by Killmonger's science and some the result of palace intrigue within his own ranks. But now T'Challa is galvanized, no longer plagued by doubt or second guessing and owning his own responsibility in the rise of the rebel Killmonger. So it is with a righteous anger on behalf of his suffering subjects which motivates the king to battle the usurper. The fight as the injured W'Kabi and his family see destruction rumbled toward them and Taku comes under threat but Venomm steps in. Some of Killmonger's allies are killed but many more are captured and atop the falls where it began the war between T'Challa and Erik Killmonger comes to an end and a small boy, still grieving over his lost father has a role to play.

Two months later in the epilogue we find the kingdom of Wakanda still recovering from the events of the war with Killmonger. Taku takes Venomm home to America and W'Kabi's family still leaves despite their developing understanding of how they feel.  But the danger is not over as the mistress of Killmonger seeks some measure of revenger and aided by her mute giant ally captures the Panther. It is W'Kabi, now possessing a metal arm to replace the one he lost in the war is instrumental in saving the Panther and despite some rough treatment T'Challa emerge triumphant again, his kingdom safe for the moment, but as we now know that is all the safety any of us has.

In the end "Panther's Rage" is a massive story told over the course of two real calendar years and over one year of literary time which attempts to explore the feelings and thoughts of people dealing with change and living up their own responsibilities. We meet T'Challa, a man less certain of his own goals and ambitions, a sign of maturity, but also something of a deficiency in a leader who appears to dither. He is surrounded by advisors, some who are overly intellectual and some who rely to heavily on emotions, but few who are able to blend these aspects of human nature to full effect, that is until the end of the story when he has been tempered by the many battles he has fought.

Erik Killmonger is a fascinating figure, a charismatic and brave leader who like most of his ilk has limited regard for his acolytes and an overweening confidence in himself. He wants revenge for what was taken from him and fights the Panther and all he stands for to attempt to balm that hurt. Out of that anger and sense of betrayal his rebellion has taken over the thinking of the those around him and consumes the concerns of everyone in the kingdom.

In the end McGregor's writing is so luxuriously dense that it's a chore to consume, his overly rich descriptions becomes a little bewildering as your eye rushes to decode the pictures which drive the story ahead. "Panther's Rage" is a work of art more significant because of how it is structured, a long continuing tale with a heavy reliance on interior analysis, than how effectively it does what it does. Now it seems all stories are like this, but then it was a relative rarity to find a story that pushed ahead so relentlessly month after month.

It was very very memorable though and one of Marvel's highest achievements during the Bronze Age of Comics.

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