Thursday, December 26, 2013

Black Panther Cartoon

I talked this cartoon up a lot when it first came out but then it just disappeared without a trace or note in pop culture. I thought it was a magnificent example of how you could tell a great Black Panther story while making it the model for any live action film Marvel may want to make.
From the funky animation to the quality of the voice actors, everything here rings true. This is not your usual Superhero story. This is so much better and more complicated than that.
We waste no time with an origin story as everything is explained within the first five minutes. From then on it's great character arcs, political manipulation, life and death battles, love, fear and the birth of a king who would live and die for his beloved country of Wakanda.
While this is his first 'mission' as King, T'challa is faced with difficulties it would take the wisdom of his fathers to get around. It's exciting to watch the Panther play his enemies in the same way they think they are playing him.
My mother picked this one up for me in the bargain bin of all places thinking I would like it, not knowing that I had already had watched and reviewed it last year. I found that once I got into it again, I was hooked until the end. The entire show is up on the You Tubes so you can enjoy the whole series if you are interested.


1. First, people should be aware that this is not a movie, but an 8 episode mini-series.

2. The animation style is different, somewhere between "normal" animation and a motion comic, but the art is John Romita Jr.'s and is first rate. If you are the sort of person who gets upset that not all animation looks like your favorite "cartoons", this might bother you. If you are the sort of person who can relax and appreciate a unique style for what it is, then do that, and you'll see it is appropriate and really well done.

3. The voice acting is simply STELLAR. This voice talent and direction here is superb. We even get Stan Lee himself voicing a crotchety, loud-mouthed general, and getting it just right.

4. Characters of almost infinite lameness, e.g. Klaw (the guy "made of sound") and Batroc ("the leaper") are re-imagined in interesting and subtle ways, transforming them into both credible threats and working to build a Black Panther mythos.

5. Some people are upset that the Black Panther lays the smack down on Captain America. It *is* clearly emphasized that Cap has just started out (he has the old, pointy shield to prove it) ... and this Black Panther of the WW II era has MUCH more experience. And let's be honest, the Black Panther is in Captain America's weight class (I'd put Wolverine in there too). And do you know a better way to establish a character as a formidable fighter than to show him taking down Captain America (after a hard fight)? And as "generic state department guy" reminds us, the Panther did take out the Fantastic Four, all four of them, in his first appearance (canonically, in the comics).

In short, Black Panther: Who Is The Black Panther? works. If you’re looking for a good introduction to T’Challa, this gives you foundation with the major players and gives you plenty of background to make your own way. It looks better than Marvel’s range of motion comics, and is better acted by far. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something new.


david_b said...

Now THIS is genius.

Will have to pick this up. Nice tone and mood to the piece. They need to go more 'Don McGregor', that awesome early 'Jungle Tales' writer who put a more narrative spin on the stories, not just action like Kirby did later when he took over.

Reading old McGregor 'Jungle Tales' and you'll see what I mean. They have it reprinted in a Masterworks now.

Kal said...

The theme song also sticks in your head. It's just feels different.

j-swin said...

We have it on DVD, great mini. Wish they would make a sequel or a series...oh wait, the mouse has his greedy paws in everything and has to ruin it (do I have to bring up avengers: emh again?)

Kal said...

But the mouse has the cash and the tech to make killer movies if we can get them out of the way for a half second. This one practically films itself. And what the hell is wrong with a mostly black caste where the only bad guys are white....truth in AFRICA anybody?

david_b said...

EMH was SUCH a great series. It actually had me interested in all the developments.

Shame it had to go so they could show that terrible 'movie' cartoon.