Saturday 2 September 2017

It's The End, But... Black Panther & The Crew

This has so much promise and there's a sad irony in the series premature finale dropping the same day as Secret Empire's extended ending.

I don't doubt that some time down the line Ta-Nehisi Coates might find room for these characters in the main Black Panther series (as he has before, especially Storm) but one can't help but wonder what this series might have achieved given more time.

There are few places in the world that feel so real even if you've never been there as New York. London, perhaps, and definitely Paris. New York is the setting of so many comics, movies, novels, documentaries... there's no escaping knowing some of its history and setting a story in that history gives it such resonance, especially when one of the authors (I don't know Harvey's biography, I'm afraid) happens to be a historian. Coates' and Harvey's Harlem is so vividly brought to life and the mixture of reality and Marvel Universe lore is expertly judged. Butch Guice's art helps, of course, but so much of it is delivered through the little details of language and character that I feel I have to give the lion's share of the credit to the authors.

Then there's the team that we barely got to know: Black Panther, Storm, Luke Cage, Misty Knight and Manifold. As I said before when reviewing earlier issues, one of the highlights for me was seeing Storm and Misty interact. I don't doubt they did back in the day, Misty was Jean Grey's roommate back during Chris Claremont's run on Uncanny X-Men, but I know of little if anything since. The two women worked so well together in this series and I don't see Marvel really finding much excuse for them to interact in the near future, even if Storm is now based in the city now the X-Men have started squatting in Central Park.

Then there's Manifold, veteran of the Secret Warriors and one of those characters that never got enough time to shine during his run with the Avengers. He was with the team for a whole two issues. It was interesting seeing him written with such affection for Harlem as an adopted home, not a terribly common angle in anything I've read set in there. Storm, similarly, comes to Harlem as an outsider, though she shouldn't be. She speaks of her connection to the place, her parents' home, the place she should have grown up in if they hadn't died in Africa leaving her stranded.

And it was all so damn interesting. The Harlem setting, the eclectic cast of characters interacting in unusual combinations, the whole historical perspective...

I promised myself this would be a positive one because this was such a good series. I don't want to rant about the injustice of its cancellation like I did with Unstoppable Wasp. Its a sad reality of the modern comicbook industry that good series like this with unique things to say are given too little advertising so they wither on the vine.

Who knows, though, maybe there's a chance we'll see this Crew sometime down the line. Worse ideas have seen revivals . I mean, there's a Ben Reilly ongoing right now...

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