Excalibur #59

“Enter… the Panther!”

Writers: Scott Lobdell

Pencils: Scott Kolins

Inks: John Holdredge & Raymond Kryssing

Colours: Dana Morsehead & Mike Thomas

Letters: Michael Higgins

Editor: Terry Kavanagh

Original publication date: December 1992

We sure hated this week’s comic, but we sure love this week’s episode, talking hip hop, comics, Black Panther, and Afrofuturism with scholar Dr. Michael B. Dando! We do a little griping about the team’s colonial jaunt to Wakanda in Excalibur #59, “Enter… the Panther!” But we also talk about better stuff you can do with comics, Vibranium, race, power, poetry, and supers who save the world with flowers. Plus, we find a sliver of joy in Kurt’s makeup mastery.  

On the good things better comics can do:

“Hip hop as an art form is about social positions. It’s about race/gender/class. It’s a narrative navigation of power. And so are superhero comics, including Excalibur. (Good issues of Excalibur. Not this issue.)” -Michael

On hip hop and comics:

“I think about hip hop like a form of vibranium. Vibranium absorbs sound and gets stronger. Just like hip hop absorbs trauma and repurposes it as a form of survival, self-defense, and agency.” -Michael

On comics, rap, poetry:

“Some people use rap to introduce poetry, just like comics are presented as a stepping-stone to literature. But to me, ‘Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos’ is not only the greatest poem ever written, it’s also formative to my identity and my understanding of art.” -Mav

On Afrofuturism:

“Hip hop and superhero comics are both speculative and aspirational. It’s Ice Cube in ‘It Was a Good Day,’ imagining forwards and telling backwards. That’s in the Afrofuturist tradition. It’s using the past to inform the present to dream about the future. Why is George Clinton on a spaceship? Because this place sucks.” -Michael

On cultural context:

“This comic is released during the golden age of hip hop. You’ve got Tribe Called Quest. Brand Nubian. Queen Latifah. Biggie. Tupac. Fresh Prince of Bel Air is the number one show on television. All this great representation out there, and then we get… this? What were they thinking?” -Michael

On OOC racism:

“Meggan is a woman who steps into alien alternate dimensions and is like ‘let me go dance with those fairies.’ Here, she’s scared of the Wakandans because they’re Black? If anything, she’s accepting to the point of naivete. Here she’s judging people for not having the right skin colour.” -Mav  

On swimsuit colonialism:

“It reminds me of the Marvel Swimsuit Edition set in Wakanda, inasmuch as: you have these primarily white characters travelling to Wakanda to enact sexy colonialist fantasies while using Black people as props.” -Anna

On Kurt and Cerise's evolving (?) relationship:

“I don’t like the depiction of the Kurt/Cerise relationship here. But if we were to do a reparative queer reading: Kurt carefully applying the lipstick to Cerise, followed by a conversation about performativity, and ‘normal’ being overrated, ending with Kurt closing the door with his tail—I want to like this a lot.” -Anna

Want more Michael B. Dando?

Want more Michael B. Dando?

You can find him on Twitter (@mbdando), and check out the Lion Man comic books, by John Jennings and David Brame, edited by Michael!

And! Check out the Comics School podcast wherever you get your podcasts!

You can also find Mav’s essay “Wakanda Forever! (Except for That One Time…): The Black Panther Party, Apartheid and the Brief Identity Crisis of the Black LEOPARD?!?” in the book The Ages of the Black Panther, edited by previous guest Joseph Darowksi!

And! If you’re lucky enough to have instutional access to expensive academic journal articles, you can check out Anna’s article “‘A cross burning darkly, blackening the night’: Reading Racialized Spectacles of Conflict and Bondage in Marvel’s Early Black Panther Comics,” published with Studies in Comics

And as usual: 

You can find Anna on Twitter (@peppard_anna) and on her podcast with Andrew and Michael Hancock, Three Panel Contrast (@3PanelContrast). 

You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).

You can find Mav on Twitter (@chrismaverick) and on his podcast, VoxPopcast (@VoxPopcast). 

Enjoy!

-GGW Team