Review: Black Panther #1

Black Panther #1 cover
Cover by Jack Kirby

Black Panther #1
Published and © by Marvel, January 1977

Title: “King Solomon’s Frog”

Synopsis: Black Panther teams with Mr. Little to track down a powerful, golden artifact known as King Solomon’s Frog.

Writer: Jack Kirby
Penciler: Kirby
Inker: Mike Royer

Review: Jack Kirby’s return to Captain America was good fun (see review of Cap #193), but his Black Panther offered even more madcap adventures. The series hits the ground running here, as Panther teams with a gruff little person (named, unimaginatively, Mr. Little) in a quest for a time machine known as King Solomon’s Frog. How could readers not love a comic featuring King Solomon’s Frog? Perhaps it’s because Kirby takes several shots at “collectors” in this issue; talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Kirby’s dialogue is also clunky – no surprise – but Black Panther #1 is still a hoot.

Grade: A-

Second opinion: “Where McGregor’s T’Challa was a man living in an only-two-real world, Kirby’s version of his own creation was surrounded by ancient frogs, aliens and midgets.” – David W. Cutler, FantaCo’s Chronicle’s Series Annual #1, 1983 … “(Kirby’s) Panther eschewed all political and social relevance in favor of fantastic science and breakneck adventure.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: Mike Royer’s inks. One of the best Kirby inkers ever, and he’s in fine form here.
Not-so-cool factor: Maybe this reviewer is reading too much into things here, but it sure reads like Kirby was growing a bit bitter with a collector culture in the early stages of turning against him.

Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 10p British variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “Got – nothing – to – say!! You collectors – can – go – to –” – The Black Panther (and perhaps another King, too?)
A word from the writer/artist: “I can only say you’re due to see the Panther the way he was originally intended to be.” – Jack Kirby, who all but ignored the Jungle Adventures incarnation of T’Challa, in an introductory essay on this issue’s “Panther’s Post Scripts” page

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on May 13, 2010.

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