Kirby’s Black Panther is an odd book. I’ve been chasing the old Jungle Action storyarc by Don McGregor, but it’s really expensive, and I ended up getting the Kirby book because it showed up on eBay. The colors are amazing and have nothing to do with the pictures above. Just like the Captain Marvel collection from the 90s. They don’t print that sort of yellow anymore.
I believe this is the first Panther solo book, and yet the story has to do with collectors and odd archeological objects. I notice the kind of action in the book would otherwise be quite passable, if it weren’t so disjointed as well. This is a good thing. The art is surely “kinetic” and effervescent (fights, jumps, screaming, etc.) but that’s not the point. My insight here is that maybe Kirby uses the 2x3 grid model in a way that is different from the one I grew up with. Most “physical” action goes on in the smaller frames, so it can decomposed, elaborated on, reinforced. The wider frames or the splash pages serve to cut the rhythm, like they’re made of a heavier material. The extra-space has nothing to do with depth of field or detail, but raw fervor (for instance, the pure joy of Black Panther boarding a plane with Mr. Little and Princess Zanda.
There are also quite a few vehicles; a plane, a chopper, a chariot.. travel being exhibited as an end in itself, not disposed of as a plot tool. The Panther is lost in all of this, and not “black” by any means, or, maybe he is “black” insofar as “black” means “being a conduit for the exotic”, a celebration of otherness, sometimes bordering the ridiculous (there are Samurais here), but 100 times more interesting than searches for spiritual and social selves. Obviously I concur that restlessness is a good idea for a superhero, and joy a passing sight (but always related to restlessness). I must tie this now with a Fred Halsted quote from a interview with William E. Jones:
I come maybe one out of ten tricks that I like. Coming is not the point. The point is revelation – the why.