Reggie Hudlin: The Next Byrne?

I hadn’t realized that Reginald Hudlin‘s run on Black Panther was so divisive. I knew that some people criticized him for not handling Storm as an equal character; others didn’t like the way Priest’s definitive run was ignored or contradicted; and some simply didn’t agree with his plot or character choices. And I knew that he could wind up responding to the commenter instead of the comment, sometimes calling those who questioned him either obsessive fanboys or racists for disagreeing. But that it had gotten as bad as this!

Comic Book Resources has banned all Black Panther discussion from their Marvel Universe boards:

We’ve reached the point where every thread even remotely related to Black Panther turns into a fight about Reggie Hudlin. It’s less about the comic and more about everyone’s personal reaction to the writer’s persona and writing style.

So, to steal an idea from the fellows over on the Rumbles board, we’re taking a break. No BP threads, no BP-related thread drift, no nothin’.

No Black Panther discussion for, oh, let’s say a month. Then we’ll see what happens.

Wow. That seems a bit of an overreaction.

Update: So does this message from a poster at Dwayne McDuffie’s board, who blames it all on “the overwhelming number of nasty threads that’s been posted by White fanboys” who have “issues” with “representations of Black Love and T’Challa’s marital bliss with Ororo.” He continues

it seems to really speak volumes in regards to the fearful mindset that some folks have when it comes to having to deal with positive expressions of the beauty and strength of our culture.

That would be the beautiful warriors-with-spears throwback originally envisioned by that noted Black philosopher Stan Lee?

Update 2: They changed their mind at CBR. I appreciate someone who’s willing to reconsider and change their mind if necessary.


36 Responses to “Reggie Hudlin: The Next Byrne?”

  1. Ralf Haring Says:

    I thought about checking out his run, but less-than-stellar word of mouth and too many other comics kept me away. If I ever check it out, it’ll likely just be to see Romita’s art in the first collection.

    After reading Priest’s run on the character, I don’t really have any burning desire to read BP ever again. I doubt anyone else’s take will be able to offer me as much enjoyment as that run.

  2. chris stetz Says:

    Black Panther is the best book on the shelves at the moment. This is coming from a white scotsman.

  3. Journalista » Blog Archive » Nov. 2, 2006: We have a winner! Says:

    [...] “We’ve reached the point where every thread even remotely related to Black Panther turns into a fight about Reggie Hudlin. It’s less about the comic and more about everyone’s personal reaction to the writer’s persona and writing style.” – Unnamed moderator,Comic Book Resources forums(Link via Johanna Draper Carlson) [...]

  4. Ryan Day Says:

    I haven’t read Black Panther, but man, discussions about it get ugly: Racism, continuity, Hollywood writers… all the things that get fans out of joint in one book. And it’s all about a C-list character who looks cool but has starred in all of 105 issues (spread over 3 ongoings and two minis) in the past 40 years. I understand when people freak out over Spider-Man stories, but Black Panther?

    Marvel did kind of shoot themselves in the foot with the crazy-hyped “Wedding of the Century” based on a decades-old Team-Up story, so perhaps that makes it harder to ignore the book.

  5. Johanna Says:

    It’s a shame. I know there’s some racism (even if unconscious) involved, but combine that with resistance to change, fetishism of continuity, and fanboy privilege, and … yikes!

    If there were more starring minority characters, not everything would have to get wrapped up in one battlefield.

    And here’s another difficult question: has CBR ever done anything like this before, completely banning discussion of a book?

  6. carpboy Says:

    I got the first six issues after reading the his first arc on Marvel Knights Spider-Man, which I loved. His first arc on Black Panther didn’t hit me quite as well, but it was still pretty good and so I kept with it. But pretty much immediately following that it just turned ridiculous.

    I finally had to drop it when Black Panther, Luke Cage, Brother Voodoo and Monica Rambeau teamed up to stop white supremacist vampires from going on a feeding frenzy in post-Katrina Louisiana. I can’t really put into words what it is about that premise that just makes my brain explode, but that’s what happened.

  7. Johanna Says:

    You know, that sounds like a pretty entertaining metaphor for tackling a major cultural issue.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Vic: You’re funny. :)

    I suspect the typical superhero comic fan, used to be the implicit center of the Marvel universe, doesn’t like having shoved in his face “this isn’t for YOU!” Understandable, but his problem to get over.

    Jer: I linked to the first collection way back in the original post. A quick look at GCBD shows that the issues in question are #12-13, which are in the Bad Mutha collection.

  9. Vic Vega Says:

    Like all super hero comics, Black Panther is a power fantasy. However, what is unusual here is that Black Panther as currently written is a BLACK NATIONALIST
    power fantasy. If you’re writing a Black nationalist power fantasy, it stands to reason that the villains would the forces of (White) colonialism. Vampires aren’t a bad metaphor as these things go.

    Hudlin’s Black Panther can out-think or out-fight any foe he comes across. This kind of triumphalism would be par for the course in say, Batman. However here it seems to irritate some. That’s okay. I was irritated when Black Goliath got killed in Civil War #4 without getting a punch in. Everybody can’t like everything.

    What nobody seems to be willing to accept is that the target audience for this book IS NOT the mainstream fan. You don’t hire Reginald Hudlin or Eric Jerome Dickey to appeal to the mainstream fan. That’s absurd on its face. Black folks read comics too. Some even have a Black Nationalist mindset. Fans of this book gain the same thrill from reading BP’s nationalist triumphalism that many fans get from reading Batman. Except now its some guy who looks like me that always wins.

    The controversy is between the mainstream fanbase reacting to a product not meant for them for once, and a fanbase that is finally being catered to. Everything else is hysteria.

  10. Johanna Says:

    I wonder if Marvel is inadvertently fanning some of these flames by doing things like tying the series into Civil War? That sends the message that this comic IS aimed at the “mainstream” Marvel fan, which you say (and I agree) isn’t the case.

  11. Vic Vega Says:

    I say “mainstream” because it is easier to type than “fan of continuity rich Marvel Superheros as exemplified by Clairmont’s X-men”. I type really slow :)

    As far as Civil War Tie-in goes, it’s a tightrope, to be sure. Marvel wants/needs to increase the sales on the book, but the more face time this version of the character gets, the more annoyed people seem to get.

  12. Jer Says:

    I finally had to drop it when Black Panther, Luke Cage, Brother Voodoo and Monica Rambeau teamed up to stop white supremacist vampires from going on a feeding frenzy in post-Katrina Louisiana. I can’t really put into words what it is about that premise that just makes my brain explode, but that’s what happened.

    Wait – wha? This happened in a Marvel book and I missed it? That’s it – the Internets have totally failed me. I’m supposed to get notice when things like this happen – people are supposed to talk about it. I mean, I hear all about the Guiding Light crossover, but not about Luke Cage fighting white supremacist vampires?

    The only discussions I’ve seen about Black Panther over the last few years have been about how much not like Priest’s run it was and about the wedding to Storm. If I had known that Black Panther was teaming up with Brother Voodoo and ex-Captain Marvel to fight white-supremacist vampires, this would have been in my pull a while back.

    Damn – now I’ve got to go find back issues. Has Marvel collected these in trade?

  13. Scott Says:

    Just curious, but was Priest’s Black Panther considered to be for the mainstream fan?

    This whole thread has prompted me to reserve Hudlin’s first collected arc at my local library.

  14. Johanna Says:

    I’ve always found Priest an acquired taste, but half the time, I don’t know what’s happened in his stories until he explains them afterwards.

    I know what you mean — I’m planning on rereading Priest AND Hudlin.

  15. david brothers Says:

    The Bad Mutha trade is an homage to two forms of film that are important in black pop culture: kung fu movies and blaxploitation films. The fight against the ninja in the beginning and the Black Avengers team-up versus the vampires in the end are pretty tongue-in-cheek nods to that.

    It’s worth noting, too, that the idea of “Black Avengers,” meaning an all-black team of Marvel heroes, is not a new one. I think that Priest pitched a series that had that as a joke name (which eventually became The Crew?), and I personally had my own team of BA back in the day.

    It’s interesting that people call the team-up in the Bad Mutha trade contrived. My only thought was “Why hasn’t this happened before? I can’t believe that black heroes took this long to team up in a non “A Very Special Issue Of…” fashion” rather than “Oh, so the black heroes JUST HAPPEN to meet up in NOLA? Yeah right!” I think that there are two different forms of perception going on there.

    Panther being pushed as Marvel’s Batman is apt and dates from Priest’s run at the very least. It’s an idea I like.

    Honestly, though, Luke Cage’s intro and interior monologue about the Panther pretty much illustrated how I feel about T’Challa and how the average black male feels about him in the Marvel U. That was an excellent bit of writing.

  16. Vic Vega Says:

    Scott- good question. The Priest run had a White supporting cast member. Everett K. Ross, a Michael J. Fox look-alike wisecracking sidekick (B.P. american aide, I think). I guess the presence of this kind of character might make it more mainstream.

    I’m a Priest fan and even I’ll admit he’s more of a cult fan-favorite than anything else. Preist had more fidelity towards Marvel continuity that Hudlin does, but their takes on the character otherwise are somewhat similar.

    Priest’s B.P. was a master manipulator and plotter. Hudlin’s version is a man of action. The other major difference is the Black nationalism is more overt in Hudlin’s version.

  17. Scott Says:

    Since the only other Marvel title I am getting consistently is Spider-Girl, I guess my tastes probably aren’t all that mainstream.

    As for Everett K. Ross… I found him grating and an obstacle – rather than a conduit into the pleasure of the Priest run.

    Coming from a middle-aged, white, continuity adherent this might sound a bit odd, but Priest’s Panther felt more authentic to me (and therefore more compelling to read).

    Perhaps it was the race of the writer (which certainly came into play with regards to the writers of the character’s earlier renditions and my dismissal thereof) that makes me feel that way, but I’d prefer to think of it as the writer’s talent (since – as the continuity aspects clearly show – Priest does his homework on trying to get things right).

    Just checked, and apparently the library copies of the trade is fairly popular and I won’t be seeing it for a few weeks.

    When I initially looked through the first issue on the stands, it was the art (rather than the writing) that held me back. Interestingly, I had the same difficulty with Priest’s first issue… which the trade nicely cured me of.

  18. David Oakes Says:

    “Panther as Batman” was definitely a theme during Priest’s run. He has said it explicitly more than once. And while Morrison’s JLA started a year before Panther, Priest was already writing an “I am so kick ass I can even function during the day” Batman for “Total Justice”, a year befre JLA. It is not completely out of line to call Morrison’s “Bat-god” the “White Black Panther”.

    But calling them the White or Black anything merely begs the question of racism, which is where we are with Hudlin. Priest’s Panther had it’s detractors, and I am sure that some of them even hated the comic for no other reason than Panther or/and Priest was Black. But it had it’s fans as well. And the level of “debate” never sunk to what we have now.

    It is possible to think that Hudlin isn’t a very good writer without being racist. (“House Party” was House Party, but his MK Spider-Man had it’s moments.) It is possible to feel his changes to continuity are ill-used without feeling a need to “keep the Black Man down!” (Changing Klaw acomplished, what, exactly? He was already the personification of White Imperialism. And Rhino? Why?) And it is possible to see “The Wedding” as a cheap publicity stunt that has nothing to do with the characters as they have been written for the past twenty-some-odd years and yet not “fear expression of Black Love”. (Might as well have Peter Parker start hitting on Janet van Dyne.)

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And a fanboy is just a fanboy, not a kloseted Klansman.

  19. del gorky Says:

    Christopher Priest never got this kind of reaction so I don’t think it’s really about Hudlin’s race but the content of his characters.

    Nothing in Black Panther has really made me feel annoyed, offended or happy or proud. The stories are okay. The problem is Hudlin seems to be trying to provoke reaction to racial content. I don’t take that bait.

    Christopher Priest’s run on the title was excellent and Marvel never gave it the huge amount of hype the title gets now which is too bad since now the push is coming with a much more mediocre creative team.

    Some have argued that Black Panther is a niche product aimed at black readers and arguable this might be so. But the facts are there are not enough black comic collectors to sustain the comic by themselves (look at the past on and off publishing history of Blade, Panther itself and the entire Milestone line, which I still miss). Black Panther depends on having non-black readers pick it up every month. Marvel management has gone out of their way to featuring many crossover appearances, event tie-ins and the wedding event itself to help the comic attract readers. Sadly, Hudlin seems determined to drive away as many as he attracts with his letter columns and online interviews/comments.

    I pick the title up when it interests me and don’t when it doesn’t. Recently, only the appearances of the Inhumans, Doom, Namor and Civil War have made it worth looking at. I thought the Doom issue was terrible, the Inhumans was very uneven and poorly handled, and I thought the Namor issue was pretty decent.

    I wish the creative team the best but frankly could care less if this book continues to be published or not.

  20. carpboy Says:

    You know, that sounds like a pretty entertaining metaphor for tackling a major cultural issue.

    That’s the worst part — even typing out that premise I thought to myself “That sounds so awesome.” But reading it was such a bore. After the crossover with the X-Men that had taken place prior to it, which managed to disillusion me on both Hudlin AND Milligan (after I loved X-Statix so much!) it was basically all I could take.

    If both of those stories were satire, which I kind of have to believe any contemporary story with Red Ghost and his Super Apes must be, they weren’t very good satire.

  21. david brothers Says:

    Christopher Priest never got this kind of reaction so I don’t think it’s really about Hudlin’s race but the content of his characters.

    Wasn’t Priest’s “The Crew” dismissed as just “yet another ghetto book” before it even came out? Priest never got a board-closing reaction, no, but I don’t think that his BP was ever as high-profile as Hudlin’s, either.

  22. carpboy Says:

    I should also mention that most of the complaints I normally see about Hudlin don’t really stem from race but from people being out-of-character. The most damning example being Doom’s casual racism. I have not read the issue in full (since I stopped getting it months ago) but I’m not sure any context would have really helped.

  23. david brothers Says:

    Doom describes Panther as a savage in his first appearance.

    Sounds like racism to me.

  24. david brothers Says:

    “his first appearance” = “their first meeting”

  25. Starr Says:

    i love watching everyone fighting about racism on a Black Panther comic book forum.i could read you guys fighting all day.its so entertaining.i wish i could get the links to all of it so i could read it all.it might be just as much fun as watching john byrne putting his foot in his mouth.

  26. Blog@Newsarama » CBR’s Marvel Board bans Black Panther Discussion Says:

    [...] Found at Comics Worth Reading, it turns out that Black Panther writer Reginald Hudlin is such a controversal figure that the fans at Comic Book Resources are no longer allowed to discuss his work. On October 30th: We’ve reached the point where every thread even remotely related to Black Panther turns into a fight about Reggie Hudlin. It’s less about the comic and more about everyone’s personal reaction to the writer’s persona and writing style. [...]

  27. Jordan Says:

    Whether or not Doom Called BP savage decades ago doesn’t seem like it’s necessarily relevant, nor does it seem consistant with Doom’s character. Doom strikes me as the kind of Villain who is equally hateful towards all, as all are not Doom. Furthermore, it seems that Doom would respect BP as a worthy adversary, rather than just say what he said in BP #17. Perhaps I don’t understand the character, but I don’t think this is the case. If it is than I may give up on Marvel entirely.

  28. Paploo Says:

    Johanna, thanks for the link to Dwayne’s article. It helped clear up a lot of the controversy surrounding the comic. I especially appreciated your and Rich Johnston’s comments, as well as the generally mature conversations among the posters.

    Something you don’t find on Newsarama. I encountered flack, when I compared Sue’s bizarre, sudden change in character in Civil War to Storm’s situation on Tamora Pierce’s journal
    http://tammy212.livejournal.com/2099.html [and incidentally, I got attacked by the lady who wrote that article you quoted. It's a small, small world... my later comments were made after I discovered she a rather infamous internet Troll. If this is the kind of person Hudlin believes is a quality promoter of his works, he should reexamine things. I hope Storm and BP find better pastures in the future, and that Storm can rejoin the X-men someday]

  29. Paploo Says:

    PS- in retrospect, I realize my initial comment might of been a bit inflamatory, but gah, I never understood why they had to have Storm quit the X-men. The initial promotional heavy announcement with little lead up in BP and none in X-men, as well as the thong-clad promotional art gave me low expectations. Why can’t she appear in 2 monthlies like every other X-Character in existence? Good reviews might make me want to check it out. Calling critics racist doesn’t.

  30. Paploo Says:

    PPS—- I trust you read this article http://andweshallmarch.typepad.com/and_we_shall_march/2006/07/persistence_ove.html Pam Noles trumps ALL. And she’s the only other person besides me who’s genuinely excited about the Transformers movie.

  31. Scott Says:

    Well, I finally read Hudlin’s first 6-issue arc and I have to say that I will not be reading more.

    While Priest’s first arc got me hooked on his series, Hudlin’s Black Panther bears little similarity. Unlike police procedurals where names have been changed to protect the innocent, Hudlin retains the names to lure the innocent into partaking of this misbegotten mess.

    Continuity (which Priest so ably employed) gets largely tossed out the window… except, interestingly, for Rhino who seems to be spot on for the most part.

    The rest of the story – such as it is in all of its decompressed languidness – largely rewrites Panther’s history and tries to be oh-so-topical… quickly becoming oh-so-outdated to this reader.

  32. stafford brent Says:

    Speaking as a BLACK MAN. Reggie is doing a good job. It started out a little slow and stale,but as time went on he’s improved. Those of you only reading six issues and dropping it aren’t being fair. I heard people complain about other writers such as GREG RUKA’S run on WONDER WOMAN and even JOHN BYRNE and people did not drop titles. As far as im concerned,the ones complaining and dropping the book,are not true BLACK PANTHER fans ”PERIOD”. I’ve seen people stick with SPIDER MAN even when the writing was less than perfect. Another thing. Black panther is not as established as other heroes. All REGGIE is trying to do is build his character and make him an A-LIST hero. I am truly sorry if some WHITE READERS can’t relate to a different perspective of things. He’s not writing a caucasian character in in brown skin. He’s writing about an african prince not AQUAMAN.

  33. brentboy Says:

    I love that BLACK PANTHER and STORM are married. IT makes them comics first bonafide black couple.

  34. Johanna Says:

    BB: It’s possible to love the idea while disliking the execution. I wish I thought Hudlin’s writing was as cool as the idea of that marriage was.

    SB: If one has to be a BLACK MAN to enjoy the comic, maybe that should run as a disclaimer on the cover? And how many issues, exactly, should one be expected to buy before you think we’ve given it a “fair” shot?

  35. brentboy Says:

    You do not need to be a BLACKMAN to read Black Panther. It’s just a different perspective. Marvel and DC are making it a point to put realism and relateability in comics. REGGIE is putting out honest to God interactions in the way a number of black people relate to each other. Some NON-BLACK people are propably uneasy with his writing because they’re not used to the particular views that are genuinely not seen in comics and they can’t handle it. 80% of comic book heroes are white. It doesn’t stop me from reading comics.

  36. thomas white Says:

    why is it so hard for a new writer with a brand new character and story to get through to you folks?

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