By Reginald Hudlin (writer), Denys Cowan (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Pete Pantazis (colors), VC’s Joe Sabino (letters)

The Story: Gabe Jones and the Howling Commandos find themselves in a tough spot on the WWII battlefield. Captain America arrives in time to lend a hand though, and helps them finish the fight. Elsewhere, the Nazis have learned of Wakanda (and, more of interest to them, its supply of vibranium). They make plans to take the kingdom for themselves, and Captain America and the Commandos are sent in to stop them. What neither side has counted on, however, was having to deal with Wakanda’s guardian, the Black Panther.

What’s Good: Quite a bit! I came to this book with relatively low expectations–I’ve always been a huge fan of Cap, but just don’t feel the same way about Black Panther. I was pleasantly surprised. Hudlin’s writing is right on target, making extremely effective use of Jones as the narrator. His voice is just right for the story, and I don’t think it would have been nearly as effective if told from Cap’s perspective. All of the characters fare well here in fact; everyone sounds like themselves, and there are some very nice character moments thrown in for good measure. (The quick scene between Jones and Cap in the dining facility is my favorite, even if it is a little…blunt in getting its point across.) The pacing of the story is also excellent, starting off with a bang, establishing the villains and what they want, quickly coming up for air before the climax, and then pulling out all the stops for the conclusion and cliffhanger. This man knows how to write.

The story is well served by the art team, and is almost universally excellent. The characters are roughly drawn and washed out (aside from Cap’s costume, which is quite bright, and a great contrast), which contributes nicely to the battlefield vibe. The major exception to this is the Panther himself, who looks lithe, fluid, and is covered head to toe in a deeply black costume (almost Batmanesque, in a couple of panels.) This makes him really stand out from the other characters, and it’s a great piece of visual storytelling. Almost everyone else in the book (including Cap of course) is a soldier, even the Nazis. But Panther is something else entirely, and he looks the part.

What’s Not So Good: Not too much to complain about, really. I will say my personal pet peeve is the way that Captain America is drawn. Cowan does a very good job with the rest of the characters, but Cap just looks…awkward. He’s oddly muscled, and the extreme paleness of his flesh tones (when contrasted against the quite unwashed-out colors of his uniform) make him look rather sickly at best, and like one of the Nazis at worst. It’s not enough to ruin the comic by any stretch, but it did throw me off whenever I looked at the character.

Also, as much as I loved Jones and the Commandos, I can’t help but feel that they dominated the proceedings a bit too much for a book called Captain America and Black Panther. They aren’t a determent to the book in any way–far from it–but I would have liked to see more of our title characters.

Conclusion: This book is a fun ride, and worth picking up if you’re a fan of Captain America or Panther (or the Howling Commandos, for that matter.) It’s certainly not essential, and you won’t miss anything earth-shattering by not reading it, but you will be entertained if you do.

Grade: B

-SoldierHawk

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