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Black Panther: Complete Collection. Vol. 1 & Weapon Brown Omnibus


By Christopher Priest (Author), Mark Texeira, Vince Evans, Joe Jusko, Mike Manley and Sal Velluto (Illustrators) Marvel Comics (Publisher)

BBack in the 1990s, long before Reginald Hudlin, Christopher Priest was the guy who made the Black Panther cool. As the back of the book says, “Black Panther reinvented as a sharp and witty political satire? Believe it!” Ever wondered who’d win in a covert battle between Wakanda and the world’s intelligence agencies? How about Black Panther vs. the devil, Mephisto? Priest has crafted a slick series combining political intrigue, super-heroics and not-so-subtle pokes at the racial—or racist, as some would say—expectations of popular culture. Many fans of the classic character were a bit turned off by Priest’s approach, not liking the “recreation” of King T’Challa as a savvy, hyper-intelligent political operator. But Priest takes the Panther back to his roots, and hammers home a central point: As the Black Panther, T’Challa is not a superhero; he’s a king, literally born to rule. Although Wakanda is small—like, New Jersey small—the Black Panther is a “monarch from one of the most technologically advanced nations on the planet. And, somehow, we keep forgetting that.” Through point-of-view character Everett K. Ross, Priest teaches the reader that if the Panther declared war on the United States, “what nobody actually realized (is) he was totally capable of fighting it…and maybe even winning it.” The art style tends to shift throughout the book: Rich, textured paints; Paul Dini-style lines and colors; classic comic-book styles—you’ll find it all here, as the series underwent a few changes of the art team. Still, the rich, complex plots will keep you going. Fans of TV’s Empire, The West Wing or The Newsroom will love this book.


By Jason Yungbluth (Author and Illustrator) Death Ray Graphics (Publisher)

T here comes a time in every comic-book fan’s life when they must simply accept that the person writing the book they’re reading is, quite simply, stark raving mad. While it’s theoretically possible that Buffalo native Jason Yungbluth hasn’t yet crossed that line, he must enjoy dancing along it. If you’re a fan of satire, you’ll love this book. If you’re a fan who can’t stand to see classic characters altered for any reason, run far away. Weapon Brown is the post-apocalyptic tale of a “round-headed kid,” now grown up, named Chuck. Turned into the cyborg Weapon Brown by the globe-spanning forces of The Syndicate, he is hell-bent on revenge against the people who turned him into a “charmless killing machine.” Seeking to find and rescue his beloved “red-headed girl,” Chuck embarks on a mission of death and destruction against the corporate hegemony. While the plot sounds—and, yes, is—highly derivative, Weapon Brown is an insane thrill ride through the history of classic comic strips, and you will see a lot, if not all, of your favorites in new, weird, creepily recognizable forms. Yungbluth, who appears fairly regularly at the annual Buffalo Comicon, sticks to the classic black-and-white art of the old strips, crafting a world as stripped of color as the characters have been of hope in their tragic wasteland. With vibrant blacks and sharp edges, Yungbluth’s art tells the tale as deftly as his words—although you might be too busy cursing Yungbluth’s parentage for “ruining” classic characters to truly appreciate the art style. In any case, Weapon Brown is well worth the read—if, for no other reason, just to see what bizarre twist Yungbluth throws at you next!

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