With this series, we get a taste of the Black Panther in such a way that may never be seen with this much investment again.
This was written back in 2013.
I discovered the existence of this cartoon on Tumblr and found myself shocked that one of the few characters left for Marvel to bring to the big screen had a cartoon released in 2010, in Australia, and 2011 on America’s BET, and I knew nothing of it. What makes this even the more interesting is the fact a lot of well-known African-Americans and the would-be real-life Black Panther Djimon Hounsou, take part in this production. I’m glad I found out it existed though for the 6 episodes in the series were really something.
To begin, let’s go over the story. Over the 6 episodes available at the time, the show established the mysticism of the Black Panther and the land he reigns over known as Wakanda. The Black Panther is as a symbol for an almost Atlantis type civilization which finds itself far beyond the technology of the outside world with their thanks being to the spirit of the great panther. Naturally, though, the story doesn’t focus on the history of Wakanda and its growth into a small, but well known, almost superpower. Instead, it seems almost like a cartoon made for High School level kids to teach about colonialism, the exploitations and manipulation of the African continent, while presenting entertainment.
For me, that was the most pleasantly surprising bit about this series. As much as it was entertaining with its own, sort of, unique animation style, it also presented history in a way which wasn’t tedious to watch. Now, of course, it doesn’t go deep into the issues of apartheid, as well as Europe and America’s exploitation of the African continent, but it does touch on the issues in such a way which makes you really feel like they went as far as they could with this show. Which also includes a bit of violence. Now, the violence isn’t Quentin Tarantino level, but it does feature people getting dismembered and there is blood. It isn’t graphic enough though that a teenager growing up in this day and age couldn’t handle it.
But, the show does have some issues. For one, the African-Americans actresses: Kerry Washington, Jill Scott and Alfre Woodard do African accents which sound strange but remind you that you don’t really know what anyone from a country on the African continent would sound like. Also, be it because it is a cartoon or the occasional off writing, the show has bad jokes/ puns scattered throughout the series which ever so slightly take away from the coolness of everything. But besides those few issues, and the fact it is left on a cliff-hanger with no season 2, there isn’t anything majorly wrong about this series.
Overall: Go Watch It
The Black Panther is one of the few major Black, though technically African, superheroes there are. With that, he pretty much gets neglected outside of the comic book world. Yes, there have been hints in the Marvel movies and there is the rare pop up in the cartoons, but considering the only cartoon featuring people of color, at least that I know of, is The Boondocks, it doesn’t hurt to have options. I just wish between BET and Marvel, there would be some type of agreement for a season 2. This is definitely a potentially controversial series, but considering BET had for years honed solely on urban music until competition from TVOne and others came about, this is the type of series you’d think they would invest in to try to reestablish themselves for Black Entertainment and not simply just urban entertainment.