A review by meepelous
Black Panther: The Man Without Fear: Urban Jungle, by Simone Bianchi, David Liss, Francesco Francavilla


Not as racially conscious as other Black Panther comics, I enjoyed this comic at least a few more stars then other Goodreads reviews tell me I should have because apparently, the dialog is horrible. But that also serves as a good reminder that comics themselves are only half of what goes into anyone's reading experience, the other half is what you and I bring to the table as readers. So, sub-par dialog or no, the following is a list of things that I found interesting about this graphic novel.

First off, let's talk about the location, while I will admit that seeing Black Panther outside of the context of being King of Wakanda is not actually totally unique, it was for me when I first picked up this volume. Seeing T'Challa without his usual tech felt like I was getting a more well-rounded view of the man behind the mask as it were. It certainly didn't hurt that I have watched most of the Netflix series as well and already feel connected to Hell's Kitchen.

Next, I want to bring up the villain's eastern European accent. By the end of the volume I certainly felt like it was getting on my nerves as much as any of the one-star reviewers, especially considering that eastern European immigrants have faced their own set of hurdles in America, but I did have an interesting time reading a bit more into it at first then just cliche supervillain.

While not news to some of you, it is always important to keep in mind how accents and learning English as a second language is often used in comics to make none white none Americans seem less intelligent, often in the name of authenticity. In this volume, both T'Challa and Vlad are apparently foreigners to the United States of America, and I did find it interesting that for once the white one pulled the short end of the accent stick. Not totally implausible since we are supposed to be rooting for Black Panther, but interesting.

Another common complaint that did not bother me, this time at all, was the idea that without his Wakanda tech T'Challa is basically just another Batman knockoff. This is a fairly common crisis for most superhero fans at some point in their reading career, that is the point where they realize that most of these superheroes are hugely derivative of one another. And while I do feel this can sometimes be the basis of legitimate critique, like turning Green Arrow into Batman, perhaps hypocritically I do not see it being a legitimate critique for this volume. Because while some of the outside accouterments are very similar, and they are both more than a little bit grumpy, their social economic situation (at least at this point in time) is completely different - just to name one example.

Having already come to the realization that nothing in this life is truly original, particularly when it comes to superheroes, it is often most interesting to look at a situation over and over again with only slight (but deliberate) differences. Much as how I talked about this different sort of plot helped me feel like I knew T'Challa better, I could also say that seeing T'Challa play a Batman like role helps me to understand Batman's archtype better.

I also thought the female villain played out fairly well, although this hasn't been the focus of much if any critique, so your thoughts are always welcome. The gritty noir-style art felt fitting and more dramatic than some and the lack of female objectification was very nice. This volume was more than entertaining enough to keep me flipping through.

A solid average in as much as I can be completely unbiased, I did enjoy this comic a bit more then average.