Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Black Panther #41 Review

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Jefte Palo

I've had a lot of praise for Jason Aaron's Black Panther Secret Invasion tie-ins and, while not as a strong as the first two issues, this issue continues the trend.

I think my favourite part of this storyline is that Aaron has managed to humanize the Skrulls, if that term can be applied to alien invaders. With few exceptions, every other Secret Invasion portrayal of the Skrulls is that of cannonfodder. Even our heroes have no compunctions about killing the faceless and nameless alien hordes. They are basically the Foot Clan from the Ninja Turtles cartoon. An endless supply of throwaway villains with no personalities.

Aaron changes this by focusing the majority of this storyline on the Skrull's perspective, particularly the general overseeing the invasion of Wakanda. I particuarly liked his narration throughout the story about his family and his lack of faith in the mission and how he just wants to 'put in his time' and retire after this final battle. It's a small touch that adds a lot of depth to the story and villains and I even found myself a little sympathetic towards these villains and can see things from their perspective a little - much moreso than the dozens of other tie-ins combined were able to do.

The only thing that really lowers this issue in comparison to the previous two is the way the story is wrapped up. After being captured last issue, Storm and Black Panther were taken prisoner by the Skrulls and submitted to torture in hopes they will submit and tell their people to stand down. Somewhere along the way, T'Challa and Storm replaced themselves with some Skrull imposters they captured prior to the invasion. Apparently, they used some voice modulators and DNA replicators to make them appear human to the Skrulls long enough for the real Black Panther and Storm to infiltrate the Skrull ship and take out their command post.

I just don't see how this made the Skrulls act like Black Panther and Storm nor how or when they made the switch. Before the fight? After being captured? In fact, even after re-reading it, I'm still a little confused as to how this stunt was pulled off.

However, it was a small detail and I understand that Black Panther has the whole Batman prep-time deal going for him, so I let it slide and enjoyed what came out of this - ie. the sacking of the Skrull ship and killing of their leaders and troops. Framed with the Skrull general's last transmission to his wife made this scene work that much better and, aside from a few minor quibbles, I enjoyed every part of this story whole heartedly.

Verdict - Must Read. A fun, short ride that, as a Secret Invasion "cash-in", was better than it had any right to be. Great stuff.

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