GM Recommended Reading: Black Panther – The Client

Murder, betrayal, Satan’s pants, and a man who holds the weight of a nation on his shoulders. Black Panther: The Client is a must read for those looking to know more about the king of Wakanda, his ideology and legacy. It’s written by Christopher Priest, the first African-American writer and editor to work in the comic book industry and illustrated by Joe Quesada, the first Hispanic editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics and Mark Texeira, penciller and inker of hundreds of comics.


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The Plot

The story begins with a pantless diplomat, Everett K. Ross, fearing for his life from a rat he named “Buster, as in Busta My Chops.” As it turns out, ever since he was assigned as the liaison for T’Challa, the king and protector of Wakanda, to facilitate T’Challa’s murder investigation in New York city, Ross’ world has spun out of control. But his lack of clothes cannot compare to the dire situation that Wakanda has found itself in as Achebe and Mephisto, aka Satan, have taken over with a new regime. It’s up to Black Panther to save his nation, defeat his powerful enemies and overcome his inner struggles (not to mention save Ross who may have sold his soul to Mephisto for a some jeans).

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The Writing

This arc is pretty extensive. The events presented to us are not always in chronological order, the political struggles are complex as well as the relationships between characters, and a lot of historical and geographical ground is covered. However, Christopher Priest makes it all work in a cohesive story with great skill and well-timed humor. Enjoyable, intriguing, and comical at times, this story and its political commentary shouldn’t be missed.

Borrowing a page from my mentor, legendary comics writer Denny O’Neil, I reinterpreted T’Challa in the mold of Denny’s brilliant Ras Al Ghul, a villain from Batman’s glory days. Nobody, not even Batman, ever knew, for sure, what Ras was thinking, what his true motives or true plans were. He was the world’s greatest poker face, and only the legendary Darknight Detective had the power to challenge him. Ras was, like O’Neil himself, cool. And his coolness transcended race, gender, and even Ras’ advanced age.

That was the energy I wanted for Panther. Rather than get into his head with an enforced intimacy that worked against his stealth, we withdrew altogether, pushing him to the shadows and, to some complaint, making him almost a guest star in his own book. Only, in any reasonable analysis of the series, Panther clearly drives the book. Even if he has only a handful of lines per issue, he is the dominating force.

– Christopher Priest on his Black Panther Series Commentary