T’Challa and Storm face Civil War, the Fantastic Four, and everything in between in Black Panther: The Complete Collection by Reginald Hudlin Vol. 2. Is it good?
While the first volume of this collection ran on all cylinders between the opening arc and the finale with the marriage between Storm and the Black Panther, Volume 2 lacks a bit of that same punch. Part of it is the lack of a major villain or storyline that carries through the entire volume. There is some semblance of an arc, with the series seeing T’Challa and Storm face Doctor Doom, only to later take the place of Reed and Sue on the Fantastic Four. For those who have read Reginald Hudlin’s Black Panther before, you know what seeds are being planted, and certainly Hudlin wasn’t writing the issues with the idea that the comics would be collected in this specific fashion. But there aren’t any big payoffs here, and because of that, Black Panther: The Complete Collection by Reginald Hudlin Vol. 2 reads much less cohesively than its predecessor.
Adding to some of this unevenness is that some of the dialogue here just isn’t up to snuff. There’s an exchange between Doom and T’Challa where they both compare the age at which they devloped their suits. It’s not necessarily out of character for these characters to have a pissing contest in the middle of the bout (especially for Doom), but the dialogue is clunky and doesn’t land.
Going hand in hand with the dialogue is the way the marriage between Storm and T’Challa is handled. At the beginning of the arc, T’Challa is almost rude in places to Storm, something that makes sense considering how guarded the character has been through most of his publication history. However, there’s never any comeuppance for that rudeness – no growth, it’s just simply ignored or handwaved away, and that doesn’t play well.
This isn’t to say that everything is poorly handled, just simply that the missteps in this volume feel particularly noticeable on the heels of the previous volume. In the Civil War crossover, Storm gets some standout moments, including one where she faces off with Thor’s clone, Ragnarok. In particular, the annual at the end of the volume is a pleasant look into a possible future of Wakanda that plays on the fallout of the Civil War event in some exciting ways.
The artwork in the volume is solid throughout, though it perhaps lacks some of the star power John Romita Jr. provided to the previous volume. The back half of the volume definitely benefits from the consistency provided by Francis Portela’s pencils, and Cafu’s artwork in issue 34 does a fantastic job at maintaining the power and reverence of the historical figures that appear.
The action sequences throughout the book are stellar fun, taking advantage of the powersets of both Black Panther and Storm, as well as having fun continuity nods (such as the fight between Karnak and Black Panther). The colors by veterans like Dean White, Matt Milla, and Val Staples give the book a bright quality.
Is It Good?
A bit uneven throughout, Black Panther: The Complete Collection by Reginald Hudlin Vol. 2, is still a hefty chunk of stories for its titular character, and with gorgeous artwork and an adventurous spirit, it’s an entertaining read. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite flow as well as the preceding volume and many readers may look at this more as a placeholder volume with a few high points.