Jungle Action #6: "Panther's Rage"

Jungle Action #6
 "Panther's Rage"
 September, 1973

 Don McGregor: Writer
 Rich Buckler: Artist
 Klaus Janson: Inker
 Tom Orzechowski: Letterer
 Glynis Wein: Colorist
 Roy Thomas: Editor

 The lithe garbed figure who passes among the tree branches is not one often succumbing to sudden rage... for the Black Panther is known in this jungle glade of Wakanda as T'Challa... and has been known as a compassionate man... but now T'Challa is filled with rage, as he witnesses the casual cruelty beneath him! A moment ago, the Black Panther was reacquainting himself with his kingdom, and reestablishing his ties that had weakened in his absence from the land! Now that sense of identity has been swept aside... and T'Challa... the Black Panther is considering immediate retribution! As Tayete's seeks to loosen the wizened one's tongue by jabbing his spear through the bamboo cage, Tayete's friend sees that they are no longer alone.

 The two scavengers may have enjoyed their game of cruelty, but they will savor its bitter taste firsthand...NOW! KCHUNK! Without his spear, Tayete seems lost, and the Black Panther returns it to him... on the side of his head. KA-CHOK T'Challa's keen senses alert hin to the danger behind him -- and he moves swiftly, diving beneath the sudden rifle bursts -- BRRRAT! These sounds are as alien to the sunny glade -- as are the moans of the old man trapped inside the bamboo cage --

 The old man recognizes T'Challa -- his chieftain! His chieftain knows there are few cages in Wakanda -- for they imprison the soul as well as the body -- and he shall free these both for him! The old man's body is freed... but the spirit has gone elsewhere. The Black Panther kneels before the old man... and learns it was because of the trouble threatening Wakanda! These two scavengers sought to learn what royal orders were given from T'Challa's throne while he was away! They were not aware it was his return that had stirred Central Wakanda. Many had thought their chieftain would never return... that those of Wakanda had lost their ruler! --That he would desert them! But the old man knew better. His chieftain must know that he had never lost... faith.

 It is a long way to the Wakanda village... and as T'Challa leaves the jungle for the wood and straw huts, another thought disturbs him! Once he had been part of this land and it a part of him... but now he knows there has been a subtle change... and he is no longer an important part of his heritage! This sudden knowledge and the old man's body in his arms weigh heavily upon him. Others join the procession and all are mute with mourning!

 W'Kabi and the others have been looking for their chieftain. T'Challa had hoped W'Kabi would know more of what has happened to Wakanda. What tears at them is the whispered name -- of Erik Killmonger! Perhaps if T'Challa had spent more time in his kingdom, he would not have to ask! He and W'Kabi will speak more of this after more warriors are sent into the northern hills. Once there, they will find a mechanical weapon in the glade, and the Chieftain would know how the mountain dwellers came by such deadly machinery. T'Challa's guest from far away has joined them and Monica Lynne sees what her man has been carrying... and the social worker listens as T'Challa tells her about the matter of trust from a man he did not even know!

 Once he has recovered, he joins the warriors, and sees first-hand the harsh examples of Killmonger's work! Taku uses the remote to contact the hospital -- and send medical teams immediately! T'Challa has heard enough of this whispered name of Erik Killmonger and spots a survivor ahead! W'Kabi and Taku watch as their chieftain swims to the survivor's side and learns about several silent men -- led by a vengeful giant -- named Erik Killmonger! Since this threat has dared to spill his people's blood, the Black Panther must repay Killmonger in kind! W'Kabi regrets it was such tragic event that drove T'Challa to return to his homeland... but he advises his chieftain if he does go for Killmonger -- to beware of the man who would cut him to bits and leave him to die in the African sun! Erik Killmonger would break every bone in T'Challa's body just to hear the sound of each snap... and would not feel any remorse whatsoever! That is Killmonger --

 The Black Panther thinks W'Kabi must be this Killmonger's publicity agent and Taku reports to his chieftain about a group of men having been sighted at Warrior Falls -- led by a giant with -- a white leopard! Warrior Falls was a wonder to T'Challa as a child -- and although he has beheld many wonders as an Avenger, these falls still inspire awe in the man; and their roar echoes the rage that threatens to consume him! Tayete is determined to rip the Panther Devil limb from limb! As Tayete tells Kazibe that the Panther Devil would rather share tongues with a cobra than tangle with him, Kazibe sees that his friend is about to have his chance! The Black Panther asks Kazibe but once for the whereabouts of their leader! Only his jungle bred instincts, aided by tribal medicines and rigorous training, cut through the Black Panther's rage -- alerting him to the fact that he is not alone!

 The chieftain did not know what to make of W'Kabi's concerns about Killmonger... but now he has no doubt whatsoever on the matter! PTUNCH! Seeing that the diversion did not keep the Panther occupied as he had hoped, Killmonger is --here!!

 T'Challa can scarcely believe that the village was attacked for the sake of a diversion! It is as if the chieftain no longer remembers that they have known each other in the past--! It has been a long time since Erik Killmonger has witnessed T'Challa's sense of moral indignation first-hand... and he wonders if his old acquaintance is eyeing the tree branch as a means of escape? The Panther was not looking for escape, but to use the tree branch as a launch point for partial repayment for Killmonger's actions! Unfortunately for T'Challa, Erik Killmonger is still standing! If this is the best the Panther can do, then Erik is disappointed, and calls in Preyy, the white leopard, to make short work of this latest disappointment! Preyy leaps upon the Panther... snarling coming after the lunge... and Preyy's warm breath flashes before T'Challa's eyes as he buckles beneath the sudden onslaught!

 Erik Killmonger had not expected this to be the hour of T'Challa's defeat -- as least not this quickly! The Panther does not hear his words, for the rushing water spilling over the precarious precipice -- drowns out even the impatient growls of Preyy, whose fangs seek to tear into his jugular vein! For one moment, T'Challa knows fear -- then overcomes it -- his fingers searching through the fur for an opening. Killmonger believes the chieftain never had a chance! The nation of Wakanda became a bauble to him -- a discarded toy -- and on that day, T'Challa lost his land! The Panther ignores these accusations, as his fingers work at prying apart the leopard's jaws. As Killmonger urges his pet to finish its work swiftly, it suddenly comes down to a contest of strength -- SNAPPP! --Until gloved fingers dampened by his own blood and the leopard's saliva forces the animal's mouth to its breaking point!

 Erik Killmonger does not wish his pet to die at the hands of T'Challa! Both he and his father's rule have taken too much from him already! T'Challa's lineage ends with him, and the Panther will never take anything from Killmonger ever again! The noble and mighty ruler had returned to his kingdom -- only to die!

 I've enjoyed Don McGregor's run on Black Panther and Killraven for Marvel Comics.

 Artist Rich Buckler has drawn Fantastic Four, Avengers, Killraven, and Thor for Marvel Comics.

 I've enjoyed Klaus Janson inking Bob Brown on Daredevil.

 Tom Orzechowski has lettered Amazing Spider-Man, World's Unknown, Captain Mar-Vell, Conan the Barbarian, and the X-Men for Marvel Comics.

 Editor Roy Thomas was the writer of Avengers when T'Challa joined Earth's Mightiest Heroes in Avengers #52.

 Writer Don McGregor paints pictures with words.

 In Wakanda, Tayete knows it's not a bird or a plane... it's the Panther Devil!

 T'Challa decided to spear the rod and spoil Tayete.

 In Wakanda, an old man lived long enough to tell his ruler he never lost faith in him.

 In Coast City, an old man asked the ring-bearer of Sector 2814 what has he ever done for them lately?

 Both the Black Panther and the Sub-Mariner share Avengers membership and their respective tumultuous relationships with their own kingdoms of Wakanda and Atlantis.

 T'Challa first met Monica Lynne when he saved her from agents of the Sons Of the Serpents.

 Tayete and Kazibe serve as a sort of greek chorus and comedy relief during the course of "Panther's Rage!"

 Erik Killmonger's turn-ons include: white leopards, a spiky wardrobe, and listening to Rick James records.

 T'Challa believes in first branching out when delivering repayments to prospective foes.

 I love how Don McGregor comes up with names like Erik Killmonger, Preyy, Venomm, and Karnaj.

 As a young reader, I'd try to imagine what the characters might look like when I first seen their names being referenced.

 Steve Chung
 "Panther's Review!"