We’ve seen The Crew in action in the pages of Black Panther, but perhaps you weren’t aware of the extensive history of this group of heroes…  Your Major Spoilers review of Black Panther And The Crew #1 awaits!

Black Panther and The Crew #1BLACK PANTHER AND THE CREW #1

Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Penciler: Butch Guice
Inker: Scott Hann
Colorist: Dan Brown
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Black Panther And The Crew: “The Crew is a team of super heroes that has come together specifically to deal with problems that afflict the community the come from or have come to be allied with.  Recently, they helped Black Panther stop a wave of suicide bombers in Wakanda, but that wasn’t the first time the team came together.  The origin of The Crew begins in the streets of Harlem…”

UNSEEN HISTORY

This issue begins with a flashback and death: In 1957, we meet a young man named Ezra Keith, who has ties of an as-yet-unrevealed nature to The Crusade, a group of black superhumans who protected Harlem from organized crime, especially that of the Manfredi family.  (I’m assuming this is a reference to Silvio Manfredi, Silvermane, and his various followers throughout Marvel history.)  Cutting to the present, Ezra is found dead in a jail cell, leading the city to erupt in protest, with spots of violence here and there, getting Misty Knight involved.  Thanks to a mysterious friend, she meets with Ezra’s family, finding that there is reason to believe that his death may be more than it seems.  The identity of her friend is kept under wraps until a contingent of robot Americops arrives, trying to subdue her and Misty, leading her to reveal her identity as Storm!  As the issue ends, Misty (who has been unwilling to get involved) is finally dragged into the investigation for real…

I’LL READ MORE JUST FOR MISTY KNIGHT

Misty is our point-of-view character and narrator, and I really enjoy her characterization here.  As a long-time police officer, she is wary of taking sides, but she’s also practical and smart, and her no-nonsense interactions are the highlight of the issue.  I also enjoy Guice’s down-to-earth take on the art, really making the street-level nature of the story feel authentic, although his 50’s superhumans are somewhat pedestrian in their design.  The ties to that previous era (and to the previous miniseries featuring a team called The Crew) really build on the idea that there is a secret history of black superhumans that just hasn’t been recorded, a proposition that has become more and more difficult in the retcon-crazy modern Marvel Universe.  Best of all, this series promises more of Manifold, one of the most under-utilized part of Johnathan Hickman’s Avengers run from a couple of years ago, which has me excited to see what the creative team has in store.

THE BOTTOM LINE: CLEVER SLOW-BURN WORLD-BUILDING

In short, Black Panther And The Crew #1 hits a lot of strong notes, the art is well-crafted, and it’s compelling enough to get past the fact that the title character doesn’t appear, nor do most of the heroes mentioned on the opening “What Has Come Before” page, leaving the book with a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall.  Given how good Coates’ Black Panther has been and the sheer number of cool characters that I want more of, this issue is something of a no-brainer for me, tying into modern Marvel’s zeitgeist while revealing truly intriguing bets of history that we never seen before….

[taq_review]

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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