After traveling to Wakanda, the home of the Black Panther, in ‘Fantastic Four’ #607, Reed Richards is finally beginning to learn the reason that his old friend T’Challa called on him.
As the last issue closed, T’Challa (no longer the Black Panther, as that job has been passed off to his sister) brought Reed to a secret place beneath Wakanda called ‘The Wall of Knowledge”. As this issue opens, T’Challa opens a giant door that resembles the giant head of the Egyptian god Horus and the pair go inside.
As they enter, T’Challa explains that this is the Wakandan city of the Dead, called the Necropolis. T’Challa has had dreams about this place and that’s why he’s decided to come here. T’Challa says it’s a sacred place where the living are not normally allowed but since he’s been drawn here, he wanted his good friend Reed to accompany him.
Meanwhile back at the capital, Sue Storm, Ororo, and T’Challa’s sister Shuri (the current Black Panther) are preparing a spell that go to the world of the dead to battle the god Anubis.
That’s as far as I can go without giving SPOILERS so you’ve been warned.
In the Necropolis, T’Challa and Reed encounter the goddess Bast. When T’Challa says he’s not sure why he came to her, she asks him what he wants. After some verbal soul-searching, T’Challa says he wants to do whatever the goddess wants him to. Then she reveals that she wants him to be the new “King of the Dead” and it seems that T’Challa somehow inherits the memories and powers of all of the Black Panthers of the past, making him into a sort of Black Panther of the Dead, leaving Shuri to be the Black Panther of the Living.
While all of this is happening, the ladies are battling hordes of skeleton warriors and the huge jackal-headed Anubis, and they’re not doing too well. I assume that the newly powered T’Challa will show up and save them but I’m not sure in what title since the art for ‘Fantastic Four’ #609 shows Thing punching what appears to Maestro.
If there’s a downside to this issue it is that it gets a little confusing continuitywise. There are references to the destruction of Wakanda (which is happening in this week’s ‘Avengers vs X-Men’). I’m just not sure when the resolution of the Anubis battle is taking place and where things fit exactly since T’Challa is the Black Panther in ‘AvX’. It’s a small quibble with an event comic but it seems that the writers didn’t lay out a timeline for cross-over titles or something.
Still, continuity qualms aside, it’s a good story and the link between T’Challa and Reed is solidified. Their court before the goddess Bast reminded me a lot of the ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ episodes where Picard stood as a second for Worf. Reed does pretty much the same thing here for T’Challa and, in the end, Bast tells Reed that their fates are intertwined.
I’m sure that this issue is going to be the basis for some future story with Reed and T’Challa and I can’t way to see the pay-off.
FANTASTIC FOUR #608
Story by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Giuseppe Camuncolli
Cover by Frank Cho