This is the final collection of Christopher Priest’s run on Black Panther. It collects the graphic novel Black Panther: Black and White as well as issues 50-56 and 59-62 (issues 57 and 58 aren’t really part of this storyline and are included in Volume 3), and The Crew 1-7. Surprisingly, T’Challa is not the primary character in this book. Beginning with Black and White, T’Challa is missing, presumed dead. Given that this is the comic book world, any given character stays dead an even shorter period of time than a soap opera character. Anyway, the story focuses on Kevin “Kasper” Cole, an NYC cop who has acquired Panther’s uniform and found it useful to wear under his clothes for its bullet-proof properties. When a drug bust goes south and Kasper gets suspended, he thinks someone on the force tipped off the drug gang. Naturally, he decides that the best way to find out is to impersonate the Black Panther as he investigates. This draws the attention of Hunter, the White Wolf and T’Challa’s frequent nemesis, not to mention T’Challa himself eventually. When this story concludes and moves on to the regular Black Panther issues, Kasper is still pretty much our lead. He’s still trying to bring down the 66 Bridges gang. Moving on to The Crew, we have Kasper, Rhodey, Junta, and Josiah X. This also ties in with bringing down 66 Bridges. There is a resolution at the end, but a few unanswered questions still remain.
Kasper was a good cop in a city full of bad cops, but at home he was a total jerk to his pregnant girlfriend (whom he commonly referred to as his annoying girlfriend) and mother. Yeah, it had to be frustrating being in a small apartment with the two of them, since they never really got along well together, but he was a terrible boyfriend and son. All there is to it. Since I wasn’t a big fan of Kasper, I didn’t enjoy this as much as the rest of the Black Panther series. I wanted more, well, Black Panther. There was an all-too-short cameo from Queen Divine Justice that I loved. I was also happy to see Everett Ross return, if only for the familiar face. I liked the origin of Josiah X from The Crew and would have enjoyed more about him. Unfortunately, the title was canceled after the final issue in this book, so there is no more Crew.* The completist in me is glad I read this and obviously fans of Christopher Priest and his writing are going to enjoy it. Had T’Challa been a bigger part of it, perhaps I would have enjoyed it more too.
*Not this iteration anyway. Ta-Nehisi Coates, the writer of the current Black Panther series, is coming out with a new version later this year.
Review by Jessica A.