Black Panther: Review

Deep in the heart of Africa lies Wakanda, an advanced and unconquerable civilization. A family of warrior-kings possessing superior speed, strength and agility has governed this mysterious nation as long as time itself. The latest in this famed line is young King T’Challa, the great hero known worldwide as the Black Panther.

Now outsiders once again threaten to invade and plunder Wakanda. Leading this brutal assault is Klaw, a deadly assassin with the blood of T’Challa’s murdered father on his hands, who brings with him a strong army of superpowered mercenaries. Even with Wakanda’s might and his own superhuman skills, can the Black Panther prevail against this deadly invading force?
How this film rocked, let me count the ways.

Before I go any further, I should state that apologies are in order. Years ago, there was a trailer for this series and I was less than impressed to put it mildly. It was a motion comic that was being pushed as an animated film and I was outraged that the film featuring the black superhero got the short end of the stick.

What I didn’t know was that the trailer was actually originally done by one animator who presented it to film executive producer Reginald Hudlin who penned the series and the film is based on his story arc. Hudlin presented it to Marvel and they greenlit it.

But you wouldn’t know that though the way Marvel threw this film/six part animated minseries under the bus. While lesser films such as Ultimate Avengers, Iron Man and Doctor Strange were pushed and heavily promoted, Black Panther was on iTunes and then removed and the DVD has to be ordered through Amazon and its primary advertising has been through word of mouth.

The most twisted part, this was some of Marvel’s finest work.

First and foremost, the star power alone should’ve made this a fully funded feature film in theaters or at the very least on DVD: We’re talking Djimon Hounsou as the titular protagonist, Alfre Woodard, Kerry Washington, Jill Scott, and Stan Lee.

The lack of support this film has gotten is proof how the Black Panther is one of the most overlooked superheroes ever. A gifted prodigy, a world class warrior whose skills are second to none, T’Challa is arguably Marvel’s answer to Batman as Bruce Wayne and T’Challa share more than a few parallels.

The film also reminded me why I sorely miss Hudlin’s writing on the Black Panther series. He has the perfect blend of escapism, social commentary, political intrigue, satire, and fantasy escapism that is second to none. This is a story that has political intrigue, explores the bonds of family, is part revenge saga, and is action packed with more than a few laughs. Not surprising considering this is the man that gave us Birth of A Nation along with Aaron McGruder. Hudlin’s writing of the Black Panther came under fire. The primary reason, in his world, black folks don’t play second string to white characters. They are just as accomplished as their caucasian peers and for a lot of white comic book fans, that’s far more far-fetched than super-powered beings. But for those of us who have been waiting for a film that features a black superhero with RESPECT, this film has been long overdue.

While the film sticks pretty faithfully to the graphic novel, Who Is The Black Panther, there are a few changes and in my opinion for the better. Most notably, a cameo from the X-Men and Storm is brought in as a major player. While I wasn’t a fan of the execution of the Storm/T’Challa relationship, I’m always happy to see the Goddess in any series. After all, she is the First Lady of Marvel as far as I’m concerned. Mad props to Jill Scott who flawlessly delivers a beautiful African accent in her portrayal of Storm.

And if you’re not a comic book person, that’s totally okay too. This film is very self-contained and you’ll get the full story without feeling lost.

What I was really happy to hear is that the film has done immensely well. Last I heard, the Black Panther has outsold comparable X-Men and Iron Man films, both of which have had the backings of live-action films.

Of course I’m left with only one question to Marvel: WHAT THE FRAK IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHY AREN’T YOU PUSHING MORE FILMS LIKE THIS? DON’T YOU WANNA MAKE MONEY? I LIKES TO MAKE MONEY. I WANNA HELP YOU MAKE MONEY!!!!!!

Minority superheroes when handled with respect do equal financial success: Cassandra Cain run on Batgirl, Kevin Keller, Batwoman, this film here.

I implore you to check out Counting Colored Cash for further proof.

In the meantime, I’ll be Waiting For Wakanda.

And if this video here doesn’t get you hyped enough to go buy the DVD off of Amazon or get the episodes off of Youtube, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. I really don’t.

Black Panther is available now on Youtube, Amazon and wherever DVDs of AWESOME are sold.

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Waiting For Wakanda

So in celebration of Black History Month, I’ve been re-reading Reginald Hudlin’s run on the Black Panther series. God do I miss him something fierce. He had the perfect blend of escapism, social commentary, political intrigue, satire, and fatansy escapism that is second to none.

I get this overwhelming surge of black pride every time I read these graphic novels.

In addition I’ve been rewatching the Black Panther animated film which Hudlin preoduced which is also based on his graphic novels. The plan is to do a review on the film for early next week. If I’m lucky I might try to squeeze in another review as well.


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Still That Hero Of Mine

Dear Perry Moore,

Even though a year has passed since you’ve left us, you are still missed something fierce. The world is a lot darker with you gone. But you left a legacy with your life and your work that won’t ever be denied. I’ve certainly have worked this past year to try to be more like you and continue the good fight in representing marginalized people in your honor.

I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Hero now and laughing and trying not to cry.

All of this is to say, thank you for being a hero to those of us who needed one the most. I know you’re up there flying high and still saving the world.

Thank you and God bless,

-Denny

Related Reading:

http://arsmarginal.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/in-remembrance-of-perry-moore/

http://neo-prodigy.livejournal.com/622860.html

http://neo-prodigy.livejournal.com/752283.html

http://gothhuntress.com/crimson/volumetwo/1009perrymoore.html

Coming Soon….

Update time. I’ve been busy working on a novella that a publisher friend of mine wants to check out. So far it’s going well and business is about to pick up.

And speaking of business picking up, exciting news!

I’ve been sitting on this announcement for a few months now but I didn’t want to say anything until the other parties officially announced it. Now that they have, so can I.

Yours truly will be a guest at not one but two upcoming sci-fi conventions:

 

March 23-25
Memphis, TN

And in 2 weeks following…….

 

April 5-8
Seattle, WA

You can check out my guest pages here and here.

Not gonna lie, this has pretty much been me:

Celebrating Black Superheroes

In honor of Black History Month, I thought I’d celebrate by showcasing a few of my favorite black superheroes (and supervillains) from comics and/or other fandoms with comic tie-ins.

And if you have any favorite black characters from comics or other fandom that you’d love to showcase, then by all means post lists and/or pics in the comments. I would love to see your selections.

Cyborg from Smallville. My man is fine isn’t he. Go ahead and look. THAT’S CLOSE ENOUGH!!!!

And speaking of casting win on Smallville, THIS!!!!!!


An awesome site I found while composing this post:

http://blacksuperheroes.blogspot.com/

The Writing Group: To Group or Not To Group

The following guest post comes from the very lovely and talented Jess Faraday, author of Affair of the Porcelain Dog, a novel that has been getting some serious buzz and some nice accolades.

You can find Ms. Faraday on her official blog at http://jessfaraday.com/.

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The Writing Group: To Group or Not To Group
Jess Faraday

Hi Everyone!

About a year and a half ago, I had the good fortune to sell my first novel Affair of the Porcelain Dog. Perhaps ‘good fortune’ isn’t the best term to use. There was more hard work involved than luck. And it wouldn’t have happened at all without the consistent support of my writing group: a small, hardworking cadre of writers who voluntarily suffered through four drafts of the manuscript and still managed to find astute observations each time.

I wouldn’t say that it’s essential to have a group, but it certainly helps. For one thing, you probably won’t get much out of friends and loved ones besides “it’s great”…whether or not that’s true. For another, other people going through the same process are more likely to be able to point out flaws that non-writers might not see.

But there are so many kinds of writing groups–and so many ways for groups to fail. How do you find the right one?

A simple search for writing groups turns up a dizzying array of choices. Big or small? Online or in person? Formal or informal? Structured feedback or free-form? Moderated? Open Membership? One specific type of writing, or any type? Paid or free? Hierarchical or consensus? These are just a sample of the parameters you might encounter, and each one will affect your experience with the group.

I can’t tell you what kind of group is right for you, specifically, but I can give you the most important piece of advice: know yourself.

Online or In-Person?

Some people find the anonymity of an online group less intimidating than meeting with people face-to-face. Some people find it easier to give an honest analysis in writing, especially when it comes to pointing out perceived flaws in someone’s work. And many of us find it easier to read, rather than to hear what doesn’t work for other readers.

A flip side of this is that many people don’t take the time to be diplomatic online. It’s easy to offend people–even when you don’t mean to–when they can’t see your face or hear your tone of voice. And if you’re having a bad day, it’s easy to misinterpret what someone else says about your work, even if it was meant in the most helpful way.

Think carefully about which would work best for you. Or try one of each. The format of the group isn’t as important as how well the format suits you.

Structured or Free-Form?

Whether a group meets online or in person, I’ve found it helpful for the group to have guidelines and expectations. One might think that a free-for-all provides the greatest flexibility, but I’ve found it a lot harder to get useful feedback without a few rules.

Reciprocity

Let’s face it: we’re all more interested in getting feedback about our own work than in taking time away from our projects to give feedback to others. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a group with no rules or requirements. While a couple of people may initially make a good-faith effort, I’ve seen too many unstructured groups fizzle under the weight of people tossing out pieces for crit, not giving anything in return, then getting frustrated when no one lauds their genius.

At the minimum, a group needs to have guidelines for reciprocity: members need to give in order to get. This has the added advantage of weeding out people who are only looking for a pat on the back.

Structured Feedback

Having an agreed structure for critique–ie; what specific information members need to provide when reviewing another member’s work–can provide much more useful information than “this is great!” or “ack.” Establishing diplomacy guidelines–ie; “this piece of dialogue seemed out of character” as opposed to “wow, this sucked”–can also cut down on hurt feelings. For in-person groups. having an agreed meeting structure–for example, covering a set number of member contributions each meeting–will help keep the group on track and keep the group from turning into a coffee klatch.

Group Size

I currently belong to two writing groups–one online and one in-person. Both groups are capped at about eight people. To my experience, a small group means that we can cycle through more members’ work more quickly. It also means that each person’s work can be examined more thoroughly and given more personal attention.

A larger group has the advantage of providing a wider audience for each work. It also means less personal connection between members–which some writers prefer. At the same time, it also means your work might get lost in the shuffle. And, at least in large online groups, there are always people who want feedback about their own work, but can’t be bothered to look at other members’ contributions.

Again, structure is crucial. I have belonged to two very large online groups in the past. One had moderated membership and a reciprocity requirement (ie; members had to critique one member’s work per week, whether or not they submitted anything themselves). The other had open, unmoderated membership, no structure, and no requirements. The first (over 5,000 members) is highly regarded and still going strong after more than a decade. I drifted away from the second after it became clear that the majority of people wanted an audience for their own work, but weren’t willing to provide more than a token “good job”–if that–for anyone else.

It doesn’t matter how large the group is, beyond how well that size fits with your needs. However, I’ve found that for all sized groups, moderation, reciprocity and structure are key.

 Paid or Free?

For me, this has never been a question. Who has the money to join a paid writing workshop?

On the other hand, there are advantages to for-profit workshops. First, they know that they’re competing with thousands of free workshops. They know that they must offer something that free workshops don’t. Often, it’s access to a professional: an author, an editor, an agent, a publisher, or a writing instructor. If you’re just starting out, or are seeking a little something extra from your group, a paid workshop may be the way to go.

Also, in a paid workshop, whether a class or a group organized by someone in the field, everyone there is serious enough to have committed money to the effort. So the chances of getting quality feedback from your workshop-mates increases.

However, if you do your research and find a group that fits your needs, there’s no reason that you can’t have as fulfilling an experience with a free group as you can with a group with paid membership.

Where to Go From Here

If you’re looking for a face-to-face writing group, I suggest starting your search at your local bookstore, library, or writers’ professional organization. You can browse hundreds of online writing groups right here on LJ–if you do your research, you should be able to find one that works, or you can start your own. Good luck!