This graphic novel anthologizes Age of Heroes #4 with the Klaws of the Panther four-issue comic series. I’ve been out of touch with the Black Panther comic since the first twenty or so issues of the Huldin-written series with T’Challa as the Panther. I knew that his half-sister Wakandan Princess Suri had succeeded to the office of Black Panther, but these are the first comics I’ve read in which she is actually in the role. Consequently, I found the little hero dossier written by Ken Lashley and printed here as an appendix quite useful, although the inset with its quantifying “Power Grid” was somewhat off-putting. I’m here to read a story, not to do tabletop roleplaying, okay?
Mayberry continues the story in the geopolitical vein that has been the metier of the Panther since Huldin breathed new life into the series, but it pretty much entirely takes place among the superpowered elite, with little relation to ordinary people other than the prospect of the enslavement of all humanity by good old Panther bete noire Ulysses Klaw. As far as that goes–and admitting myself to be generically nonplussed by “crossover” action–the supplementary heroes Shanna, Wolverine, Spiderman, and Black Widow all come off quite well. And they have to, because Shuri herself is still a maladjusted novice superhero. The closing chapter of Klaws of the Panther promises an end to that phase, happily. A little too much of this volume consisted of ethical reflections–usually simultaneous with superheroic ass-kicking–for me to find it entirely credible or palatable.
Gugliotta’s art is very distinctive, and I give it points for being dynamic. Still, I never fully warmed to it on the level of sheer aesthetic pleasure. I actually preferred the Moll/Wong art in the Age of Heroes preamble, even while noting its relative lack of artistic virtuosity. Del Mundo’s cover art is first-rate, although it shows a composite scene that doesn’t reflect any single moment in the book’s narrative.