28 February 2024

The Crew: Big Trouble in Little Mogadishu by Christopher Priest, Joe Bennett, Danny Miki, et al.

After his run on Black Panther came to an end, Christopher Priest began a short-lived ongoing called The Crew, a team book that included one-time Black Panther Kasper Cole (now the White Tiger) among its members. I wasn't super into Kasper part of Priest's Black Panther run, but The Crew was included in the Christopher Priest Black Panther: The Complete Collection volumes, which you can read for free on Hoopla, so I figured why not read it?

from The Crew #2
It was kind of worth reading, kind of not. Certainly it wasn't worth it for Kasper, who continues to spin his wheels as a character, arguing with his girlfriend and expectant mother of his child, chasing promotion so he can afford to support his mother and girlfriend. The ongoing thing about his dad wasn't picked up at all, and by the end of these seven issues, Cole isn't really anywhere we haven't already seen him.

from The Crew #4

The other three members of the "Crew" (never called that in the story) are James "Rhodey" Rhodes, the one-time Iron Man and War Machine; Junta, a superpowered information broker whose mom is a robot who I think appeared in one issue of Black Panther vol. 3; and Josiah X, the son of a black man who was experimented on during World War II in an attempt to create super-soldier serum. The first few issues look at each man in turn; the "team" really only kind of comes together with issue #7, when of course the title was cancelled. Junta probably could have become fun with time, but the real standouts here are Rhodes and Josiah.

Rhodes I don't think I have ever actually read a comic about before, but I liked what Priest did with him here; a man who use to be on top but has found himself at the bottom trying to climb his way back up using his sense of justice as a guide. I don't know how the character is in actual Iron Man comics, but I would read more stories about him if they were like this.

from The Crew #6
Josiah X (called "Justice" in behind-the-scenes information but not in the actual book) is a really interesting character, a black Muslim community organizer who dons Captain America iconography. Can such a man reconcile the contradictions that led to his own existence? How can he wear the emblem of the country that treated him and his father so disposably? Priest and artist Joe Bennett do their best work with Josiah, and unfortunately only scratch the surface of the character. I gather he hasn't really appeared since, but I am curious to pick up the Captain America: The Truth miniseries where his father originally appeared.

As I've alluded to, it's a bit of a slow burn, which was probably a mistake for a book that bundled together a bunch of has-been and also-ran characters; I cannot imagine it sold well at all. I enjoyed it well enough, but by the end of seven issues, I wasn't convinced we needed seven issues to see the Crew take down some pretty ordinary gangsters. A decent read, but not really for Black Panther–related reasons. I gather the Crew returns during Ta-Nehisi Coates's run, but not with this line-up.

from Black Panther 2099 #1
I also read the 2004 Black Panther 2099 one-shot, set in (as always) a dystopian future. T'Challa is dead, his lineage has ended, and Wakanda is invaded by Latveria. A new Black Panther must step into the vacancy at long last. Not much of interest actually happens; the guy has basically no personality and no struggles. It ends with a twist, but it's a pointless twist if there's no more stories about this set-up, which of course there weren't.

Big Trouble in Little Mogadishu originally appeared in issues #1-7 of The Crew (July 2003–Jan. 2004). The story was written by Christopher Priest; penciled by Joe Bennett; inked by Danny Miki (#1-7) and Rich Perrotta (#7); lettered by Ken Lopez (#1-2), Rus Wooton (#3-5), and Dave Sharpe (#6-7); and edited by Tom Brevoort. It was reprinted in Black Panther: The Complete Collection, Volume 4 (2016), which was edited by Mark D. Beazley.

Black Panther 2099 was originally published in one issue (Nov. 2004). The story was written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Kyle Hotz, colored by Jose Villarubia, lettered by Dave Sharpe, and edited by Tom Brevoort.


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