SCRIPT: Reginald Hudlin
PENCILS: Denys Cowan
INKS: Tom Palmer & Sandu Florea
COLORS: Pete Pantazis
COVER: Denys Cowan &Sandu Florea
We come full circle back to a great cover to finish things off after two "okay" covers in the middle of the set. It's dynamic, it showcases the two title heroes very nicely, and the explosive background highlights everything in a great way. It's just a well done superhero comic cover all around.
Continuing from last issue, as Gabe tries to survive the attack on the Vibranium mine, he manages to steal a piece of the rare metal. In the meantime, Nick Fury and the Howlers fight for their lives against Red Skull and his giant robot.
Gabe manages to escape the mine by a secret passage leading to the Wakandan Royal Palace, where he saves Prince T'Chaka by shooting Armless Tiger Man in the head. Captain America arrives on the scene just a little too late. He and Gabe decide to team up to find out where the Red Skull is. In the Vibranium mine, Black Panther easily defeats both Master Man AND Warrior Woman, using some sort of poison on his gauntlets.
Back in the jungle, The Howlers realize their weapons are useless against Red Skull, and they retreat into the German camp, accidentally running into Baron Strucker's tent. A tense standoff between Fury and Strucker is interrupted by Red Skull bursting back onto the scene.
As Gabe, Captain America, and Black Panther fly a plane toward the German camp to assist the Howlers, Gabe is shocked when Black Panther offers him Wakandan citizenship in gratitude for saving his son and conducting himself with honor while a guest of Wakanda. Gabe tells him he needs to think on it.
Arriving at the German base, Cap and Panther find the Howlers in desperate need of aid. They jump into battle and GIANT ROBOT PUNCHIN' COMMENCES!!
After defeating Red Skull, Strucker surrenders. Black Panther lets him and his defeated men go, but with a warning that if another German is even seen near Wakanda, they will join the Allies and Black Panther will personally go to Berlin and kill his way to the top of the command chain.
At the end of it all, Gabe declines Panther's offer of citizenship. . .telling him that there's still fighting left to be done in Europe. On the other hand, he also lies to Nick Fury. . .telling him that he wasn't able to find any information on the Vibranium.
In a short epilogue, we see Nick Fury at a mission debriefing being asked his opinion of Captain America. Nick was impressed by Cap's fighting ability, but not so much by his unwillingness to help find Wakanda's vibranium. He suggests that the army train a partner for Cap who is willing to get his hands dirty if the mission calls for it.
Yep. . .Giant Robot Punching. Easily one of the most abused tropes in comic books. One of the main reasons I don't read many mainstream superhero titles. There's ALWAYS going to be a robot (giant or otherwise) being punched in at least one issue of ANY mainstream superhero comic. Don't try to prove me wrong. You can't.
Giant Robot Punching aside, this was a slam-bang all action (well, until the end) finale to this story. I liked that even through all the fight scenes, the writer still managed to slip in bits of the underlying story of Gabe's personal conflict. . .ending with him deciding to just let things stay the way they are. A cop-out? It can be seen that way. But I prefer to think of it being a simple man keeping things simple. If that means maintaining a crappy status quo, then that's what it means.
I have to give credit to the writer for being able to provide a thought-provoking commentary on race inside a story about superheroes punching Ratzis in Africa. It was unexpected and nicely done.
The art actually seemed to improve a bit in this issue. I chalk it up to the addition of a new inker. Whatever was the cause, it's unfortunate that it came in the final issue. A definite case of "Too little, too late" in my humble opinion. But at least they managed to tame Cowan's sketchy and vague pencils enough to be a noticeable improvement over previous issues. The muted color palette remains a real weak point, though. Not much an inker can do about that.
Overall, a solid piece of almost non-stop superhero action that takes a little bit of time to reflect on a conflicted soldier caught up in it all. It's a good finish to the story. Too bad the art remains disappointing, despite showing a bit of improvement.
There you have it. Captain America and Black Panther meeting for the first time in the middle of WWII. For Captain America fans, you get a Cap that's still a little "green", proving himself in battle. For Black Panther fans, you get a look at a brutal wartime Panther in T'Challa's grandfather. And then you've got Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos doing what they do best. Mix them together in an unusual WWII African setting and you have a pretty darn good little superhero war story.
The artist wasn't the best choice, and there's a trip down the extremely well-worn comic path of giant robot punching, but that's not enough to keep this story down. It's enough to knock it down a notch or two, but all in all, I can recommend Flags of Our Fathers to any fan of Captain America, Black Panther, or WWII comics in general. Give it a try. It's a pretty good read.
Up Next. . .
It's still EXTREMELY busy at work, so I think I'll hit a few one-shots until things settle down a bit. I've picked up some fantastic Flea Market bargains this past month, so maybe some tasty Retro-Reviews.
Be there or be square!