For some reason, I have this strong love for The Black Panther. To be honest, I don’t know that much about the character. But, when finally picking up comics for the first time, I decided immediately that I would make Black Panther one of my favorites. Well, just behind Batman and Captain America, of course.
This issue of Jungle Action follows the Black Panther to Georgia where he is lurking in a tree in a grave yard in the throws of an abnormally hot September night. His eyes are fixed upon Monica Lynne who is there to mourn the death of her sister, Angela. As she is deep in thought, hooded men appear from the shadows with the intent to kill her.
Panther swoops down from the trees and thoroughly beats the shit out of the gang, which we first think to be none other than the Ku Klux Klan. But, after close examination, Black Panther finds that these men aren’t Klansmen at all. These men are of all races!
(For those who did not know, the Klan does NOT like anyone other than white people. The more you know…)
There was also a little scene with a local reporter named Kevin Trublood, but his story isn’t very important. Other than lurking on Ms. Lynne, having his windshield busted by the faces of the faux Klansmen, driving said Klansmen and Black Panther to the sheriff and breaking his hand, he had nothing in this story. Okay, I’ll admit, that seems like a lot, but it really wasn’t. He may play a bigger role in later issues.
At the station, the sheriff isn’t too pleased to see these good ole boys in front of him. He scolds them for dressing up like the Klan and desecrating the cemetery, but he is pretty easy on them. Shereiff Tate must have been so sleepy that he forgot to add ATTEMPTED MURDER to his rant.
But, it is Georgia…
We catch up with the Black Panther in the kitchen of Mama Lynne. There he eats a very
racist stereotypical colorful damned good dinner.
The Lynne household is filled with the aroma of country fried chicken, spare ribs, hammocks, chit-lins, collard greens and homemade cornbread.
Shit like that wouldn’t fly in today’s comics. But, we haven’t much time to dwell on that bit of racial stereotyping! Trouble is yet again lurking in the shadows!
It seems that the faux Klansmen, known as The Dragon Circle, somehow skipped jail and found themselves outside the Lynne homestead. But, unknown to the Circle, the actual Klan was on the other side of the house. It seems both sides have a blood lust this night.
The real Klan throws the first firebomb, which the Black Panther notices and jumps through a window in time to deflect and send back to the Klan. As the fire erupts around them, the Klan get a strict lesson in tough love as The Black Panther beats the piss and white pride right out of their bedsheets.
As the Klan and Dragon Circle fall into retreat, Papa Lynne thanks The Panther and apologies for his misconceptions about the superhero. But, Papa Lynne knows that this is only the beginning. He knew they’d be back sooner or later.
It ain’t gonna end here… You can bet on that!
The Black Panther is one amazing ass kicking machine. Not only is he super athletic and super smart, he’s also a freaking king! Just think about it. What does our president do when he visits another country? He usually gives a speech and shakes some hands and comes back, right? Not T’Challa! His diplomatic mission is to come and kick your ass, and apparently eat all of your fine vittles.
Sure, Jungle Action #19 is a little dated. But, it is an interesting look into a very sensitive subject, even by today’s standards. Here is one of the first black superheroes taking on a foe that was a real enemy to real black Americans. It may seem a little comical now, but it was a very important statement to make for a comic book.
This issue just goes to show you what an important place in history comic books hold. From introducing a black superhero in times when segregation still ruled to showing that even superheros can fall in love with members of their same sex, comic books have always been and should always be that place where fiction takes it upon itself to tell the real world where it should stand from time to time. As in the case of Jungle Action #19, the real world was told that there is no place for ignorant racists, especially when the Black Panther is on the prowl.