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I see T’Challa that way as well, but I defer to Stan Lee, whose bedrock for this character was he was a man who outsmarted Reed Richards and out-fought the Thing. Those key notes seemed missing from McGregor’s Panther, and to me Stan (whom I do know) is Moses; his original concepts are the stone tablets of modern comics.
Thus, it made absolutely no sense to me that Panther wouldn’t at least nominally protect himself from things like small arms fire or stabbing weapons, and that, at the very least, he’d carry an iPhone (which is what his Kimoyo card essentially is).
The fan outrage was unexpected and a little off-putting, considering how poorly supported Panther has traditionally been. It seemed to me like, ‘We’re not actually going to buy any Black Panther comics, but how dare you make him smarter and more technologically advanced! Bring back the plain old spandex and get rid of the gadgets!’
This seemed nonsensical and a violation of Stan’s character; Marvel fandom having grown so accustomed to what I considered to be an errant interpretation of Stan’s original concept. And these folks weren’t buying McGregor’s book or mine, so why on earth should Joe and Jimmy pay the ‘outrage’ any mind?
I just used Stan, and only Stan, as my template – though I wanted a more laconic, more Batman-esque, and mysterious character to Stan’s friendly and gregarious monarch. I didn’t think Panther would talk all that much. I thought Batman talked too much (and maybe still does, I don’t actively read comics anymore); like all that yakking he does explaining his motives in the final moments of The Dark Knight; it was a violation of his character to stand there yammering. Not Batman.
I thought Panther could and likely should have been the Batman of the Marvel U. That character archetype was missing from Marvel’s pantheon, and Panther’s origins and motives are different enough from Batman’s to prevent him from being called a Batman rip-off.
If anything, now that Batman has become Iron Batman, with all that stupid armor and tech – wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong DC – he is following T’Challa’s lead and not the other way around.
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The main thing preventing Black Panther from fulfilling that Batman niche for Marvel is, frankly, Marvel. Whether knowingly or subliminally, Marvel marketing – if not Marvel editorial – sees Panther in a racial context and, thus, as a less ‘pure’ character than, say, Drax the Destroyer or the Sub-Mariner. I don’t mean racism so much as a level of sensitivity and concern for the reader’s ability to identify with and/or respond to these issues.
For example: a line was cut from my contribution to the recent Deadpool marriage issue because Marvel was concerned Black readers might be offended. I assured them Black fans would not be offended by the line, but I was overruled. Which troubled me because I was an actual Black person assuring them Black people really aren’t as thin-skinned as they (or the corporate hedgehog above Marvel editorial) may think.
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