Black Panther is the new guardian of Hell’s Kitchen and he’s got a Romanian Super Soldier to deal with. This was all established through exposition in the previous issue, to its mild detriment, but this issue makes up for it as these two men clash with their brains and their powers. Without needing to set the stage, this instalment drops a lot of story and action and makes for a fast-paced crime read that hints at only better to come.
I’m still not sold on T’Challa’s reasoning for taking Matt Murdock up on his favour. Telling me he made a promise to do it doesn’t legitimately explain why he made this promise. Seeing him discuss the current status quo with Luke Cage, however, does set it better within the Marvel U. In a world full of superheroes, one shouldn’t have time to find himself slowly when people are being killed on his watch. It’s a great scene that nails character as well as giving our lead brilliant motivation to push his crime fighting campaign into top gear.
The best part of this new series is Vlad the Impaler, the villain pitted against out new Man Without Fear. He’s a crime lord who uses his brain and plans ahead as much as the man he hopes to take down. His ruthless ways also make him unpredictable, which in turn makes for great comics. The way he runs his operation almost puts him in the running to be a MAX villain, but it all works as an effective and interesting opposite for T’Challa.
There’s a massive fight at the end of this issue, buildings are destroyed, people die. It’s satisfying and epic. However, it is the three silent panels to finish the scene and the issue that make it all feel like more than just spandex muscles being flexed. There’s heart in this title and Liss nails it as Black Panther’s world gets a big shock, as does Hell’s Kitchen. It might be old hat to play the ‘Hero or Menace’ card but when it’s done this well you can’t complain.
The dynamic action scenes will be the calling cards for Francavilla after he is done with this title. His colors work best when highlighting the fluidity of his fights and rescues. When you stand back, they make each page look unlike anything you usually get from a comic (except “Detective Comics” right now, natch). If another artist has to come onto this title, they are going to have very big tonal boots to fill.
After far too long reading unsatisfying "Daredevil" issues, it is nice to cheer for someone back on the Hell’s Kitchen beat. Though this is a new character, and so not directly linked to Daredevil, this title works to fill the current void by fitting into the typical horn-headed mold. Our hero is being tested, in many ways, he’s a little uncertain in love, and he’s got a big crime boss to battle. You’ll get action and a density to the noir on offer, but you’ll also get a very personal tale. Things are only going to get worse on this title, and that’s great for readers.