A new edition in the Epic Collection line, The Mystery of the Black Panther collects several classic stories within its pages, including the titular first appearance of Black Panther, as well as some other famous Marvel characters.
The entirety of Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Mystery of the Black Panther is crafted by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Just by seeing those names, I think most prospective readers know what they are getting into. These are the fathers of Marvel Comics as we know it, working on what was one of Marvel’s premiere books at the time; from adventures with the Inhumans and the Silver Surfer to fights with Doctor Doom, this volume is filled with classic stories.
Collecting Fantastic Four #52-67, Annuals #4-5, and Not Brand Echh #1 and 5, there’s a lot of material. There’s a sense of the fantastic (no pun intended), throughout the stories here, and the secret kingdoms of Wakanda and the Inhumans not only add to the intrigue, but supply the Fantastic Four with a nice rotation of guest stars that appear throughout the volume. The interactions between the titular team are a lot of fun, though the volume dates itself a bit as Sue is frustratingly used as a damsel in distress multiple times.
While Black Panther’s historic debut is understandably used as the key story for this volume, there several other debuts made here, including none other than Adam Warlock. And while this volume starts just after the famed introductions of the Inhumans and Galactus, the less-famed follow ups to those stories help balance out that absence. Readers also get the first interactions between Black Panther and the Inhumans, which feel even more important now with the history the two kingdoms have shared in the past decade of stories.
Frankly, there aren’t many cons to be found here. Black Panther fans might be more inclined to seek out other collections that contain his debut, but for the price, this is a fantastic collection of the Lee/Kirby era on Fantastic Four. As with many of the Epic Collection volumes, the supplemental pieces here are a bit thin, but what is included is stellars – black and white reprints of unused cover art for Fantastic Four #52 as well as the uncolored pages for several of the issues. Any time you get Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott’s artwork, it’s well worth a look.
With Fantastic Four: The Mystery of the Black Panther, you really are getting what the book sells to you – beautiful reprints of some of the early issues of Fantastic Four. Whether you’re an FF fanatic, or just looking to explore some of the work of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, this volume has plenty to offer.
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