Marvel Knights: The Black Panther animated series premiered with little hoopla back in 2010. In all honesty, to this critic, if it weren’t for a swag bag at the San Diego Comic-Con (that year) I wouldn’t even have known the series existed. A total of 6 episodes were shown and that was all she wrote for T'Challa and his adventures as The Black Panther until know. AFJ decided to go back and look at Shout! Factory's release of the complete series on DVD, which was part of their Marvel Knights series (see Astonishing X-Men motion comic for more of the same) therein lies the rub, The Black Panther series is an animated cartoon, however, its animation is in the style of the old Captain America series (circa 1966) mixed with that of a motion comic. It is not a deterrent to watching the series, no if anything the theme song is; it just has a strange albeit unique style. The art is a perfect translation of John Romita Jr.’s work. It is so good that one wishes that Marvel would have spent the time and effort on Romita’s Eternals re-launch over The Black Panther.
The 6 episodes presented here, as I mentioned, are brilliantly animated. They tell not only the origin of the Black Panther but the history of his native land, Wakanda. The Black Panther is played by none other Djimon Hounsou, in a role that is perfectly suited for him. If anything this was the perfect audition for Hounsou to play the live-action version (it went to Chadwick Boseman). Marvel was quick to wrap the Black Panther and Wakanda in the modern world. The U.S. government wants to establish a relationship with this very power and technologically advanced country. Not a huge problem but the U.S. is willing to do anything to get it done. The Black Panther also has to face a variety of Marvel’s shadiest characters that are all after the vibranium that Wakanda is in possession of. There is also an assassin hell-bent on finishing off the Black Panther’s entire family, a job he started by killing off the Black Panther’s father. The story is actually pretty complicated and to top it all off the Storm/ Black Panther love story is here as well.
There is a great introduction to the character of the Black Panther in the very first episode. However, it is not T’Challa but his father as the Black Panther. Captain America arrives in Wakanda to stop a few Nazis and gets his ass handed to him by the Black Panther. In Cap’s defense, it was early on in his career but it nonetheless establishes the prowess of the Black Panther. There is a political side to the series and it is something that will probably bore a lot of kids. In all fairness, this series isn't really for them. This could be a reason why it lasted only a mere 6 episodes. For adults, the politics is a bit boorish too. There is great humor to the series, which is yet something else the kids will not get. There are warnings for the violence at the beginning but for most kids that will only entice them further to watch it.
The style of the series, Romita’s artwork brought to life, and the tying of numerous Marvel characters together is the appeal of this short-lived series. It is easy to see the X-Men in an animated series but The Black Knight, Radio Active Man, Deathlock, or even Batroc the Leaper made it utterly refreshing. My best advice is to watch it all in one sitting. Completely ignore the terrible theme song and enjoy The Black Panther.