“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
“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
“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
“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
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 Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).