Apr 13

Black Panther and The Crew

Black Panther and The Crew

Black Panther and The Crew #1 Cover

Recent weeks have seen a little bit of controversy and scandal in the halls of Marvel. From the problems with X-Men Gold #1 courtesy of Adrian Syaf or the qualms with sales vs. diversity, it’s not been a good news cycle for the folks at Marvel. But there are still quality comics coming from the publisher regardless of the recent missteps. And not just quality, but also socially relevant. As heated and charged as urban society is against authority and police enforcement, it’s good to see a comic addressing that issue exactly. Black Panther and The Crew is all of these things, as well as a bit of fun!
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, with pencils by Butch Guice, and colors by Dan Brown, Black Panther and the Crew #1 picks up before the recent events in the ongoing Black Panther comic. Obviously we know who and what Black Panther is, but who is The Crew? Easy. Storm, Manifold, Luke Cage, and Misty Knight. This group deals with a very particular subset of heroism. The streets.
As the comic opens, we travel back to Harlem in 1957 and we learn, from Misty Knight’s narration, that there was a crew in Harlem protecting the neighborhood back then. Led by a man name Ezra, that crew took it upon themselves to keep Harlem clean from drugs, pimping, and other socio-economic forms of destruction. It’s not necessarily a peaceful affair.
Cut to Harlem now. Ezra has become a neighborhood legend (think Pops from Marvel’s Luke Cage), and while in police custody Ezra mysteriously dies. The public blames the police and the atmosphere is not very accepting of authoritarian measures….so the police institute a curfew and call in some robotic police sentinels to help preserve the peace. All the while it’s up to Misty Knight to figure out Whodunnit.
Since Ta-Nehisi Coates appeared at Marvel with Black Panther, I’ve been on the lookout for another title by him. I had a feeling it would be quality and with this new comic I was not disappointed. Now, Coates’ bibliography doesn’t make the subject matter of this comic particularly shocking – he’s not writing a Man-Thing comic about social injustice in the swamp – but it was still a different skew to his normal work. Black Panther and The Crew told from the perspective of Misty Knight is nearing the realm of noir storytelling and it fits this comic so well.
The art is given life by Butch Guice on pencils, inked by Scott Hanna, and colored by Dan Brown. Like most noir stories (or in this case, near-noir), there’s a very strict color palette, style, and tone. The majority of this comic is something akin to long shots on film, with a blueish hue to its mood. That is, until something epic happens. I’m thinking specifically of Ezra’s assault on the warehouse in 1957 or Storm’s more than epic reveal. I highly recommend taking a look at this story if only as a visual method of telling a street level comic story.

STORM!!

The comic reads and presents itself as a limited series, but the cover tells nothing of the comic’s longevity. Based on this first issue, I’d like to think this comic has some room to breathe and I’d like to see if go beyond a single arc. And with Storm and Misty Knight being the only main characters revealed so far, I can’t wait to see how the others in The Crew are introduced. Bottoms up brothers and sisters.
Insert a quip or joke here and cut to commercial

hickory

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