(Re)Animations: Black Panther Mini-Series (2009)
Comic book animated series should be always awesome! That’s a rule for me at least. Since comics were scare in my early years I grew up admiring superheroes through TV: Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men, Justice League, Spider-Man and many more. This also explains why I am more of a DC Comics fan than a Marvel fan. Since I was treated mostly to TV superheroes I grew up with the mentality that DC Comics beats Marvel on animated series… by a LOT!
Even though the 90’s X-Men cartoon series was awesome, DC’s animated shows tend to be more beautiful, fluent and just plain awesome. Batman: TAS is an all time classic and an easy contender in any cartoon fan’s Top 3 list. Justice League gave us a lot to respect, fear and laugh about while Superman: TAS had us fearing for Superman’s life more than once.
Now that I am older, I’ve had the chance to learn about a lot more Marvel characters and actually like some of them a lot. I still can’t shake off the fact that Marvel has a hard time making good animated adaptations, though. They are sitting in a virtual gold mine that could easily compete with the DC universe; proof enough is the recent The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, which gave us an Avengers team that can compete with some of DC’s best Justice League material. However, I’ve yet to see no other a series that’s a bigger proof of concept than Marvel’s crowning achievement of animation: 2009’s BLACK PANTHER TV series.
This animated cartoon briefly aired with 6 episodes in January 2010 as a collaboration between Marvel Studios and BET Animation. It flew under many radars, especially Marvel fans, which is really a surprise for me. This series immerses us in conflict, political intrigue, political scandal and humanitarian issues like few other cartoon series seen on TV. The narrative and art design of the show mimics the comic book its based on by author Reginald Hudlin and comic artist John Romita, re-introducing us to Wakanda and its soon to be king, T’Challa, who debunks his uncle as ruler of Wakanda during a fight for the Panther’s throne.
At the same time the villain Klaw, in this story portrayed as a Belgian assassin, is hired by his own government to kill T’Challa’s father (T’Chaka). It seems T’Chaka led a campaign to shed light on some heavy truths to the world richest countries on how their concerns lie more with profit than to make the world a better place to live. Klaw gathers a team of mercenaries and, with the aid of a rival nation (Niganda), embarks on a quest to ensure that the nation of Wakanda is ruined… mixed with a personal grudge with T’Challa.
To make matters worse, the United States of America is also having problems with Wakanda not wanting to be allies and begins working on an army of robo-zombies to deal with that fact. Apparently these problems have been going on for some time since way back during World War II they commission Captain America to infiltrate the country, leading to a tussle between the Captain and Black Panther (T’Challa’s father).
With all of that (and to avoid spoiling much out) BLACK PANTHER tells a story that is entertaining while making some very critical observation on the modern political world that leave you thinking that Wakanda is the realm of “how Earth could be if we stop making weapons and start making REAL peace and progress.” It’s a real shame that BLACK PANTHER only lasted those initial 6 episodes. It was a series with so much potential, but maybe it was too big in its moral fiber for the “politically correct” modern TV audience.