FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE
JUNGLE ACTION Volume 2, Number 16 (July 1975)
XI. AND ALL OUR PAST DECADES HAVE SEEN REVOLUTIONS
Synopsis: The Black Panther has been back from his pursuit of Killmonger through Wakanda’s Hidden Realms for several days now. Thanks to the super-powers he has from the Panther Herbs AND to Wakanda’s advanced medical technology T’Challa has fully recovered from his wounds.
Salamander K’Ruel, the minion of Killmonger defeated by the Black Panther last time around, has been imprisoned in the Royal Palace just like Venomm, Malice, Baron Macabre and Lord Karnaj. T’Challa has brought all his advisors and his Royal Consort Monica Lynne up to date on everything that happened the previous four installments.
Our main character and Monica are frolicking on a beach at Twisted Visions Lake. They are swimming, riding giant trained turtles and having fun like consenting adults will have. Author Don McGregor has the two lovers exchange the kind of reasonably romantic dialogue that he would later have Sabre and Melissa Siren regularly spout to each other in his post-apocalyptic series titled Sabre.
Meanwhile, back at the Royal Palace, Taku, T’Challa’s Chief of Communications Technology, is in the middle of one of his daily visits with Venomm/ Horatio Walters, one of Killmonger’s supervillain operatives. W’Kabi, the Security Chief, eventually sits in with them.
Venomm at last reveals how he – a white (but horribly disfigured) man from America – was brought to Wakanda by Killmonger. He talks about how N’Jadaka/ Killmonger had already recruited him as a follower years ago, even before he (Killmonger) gained an audience with the Black Panther at Avengers Mansion in New York City.
N’Jadaka told T’Challa about how he was one of the Wakandans taken prisoner long ago by one of Ulysses Klaw’s raids in search of vibranium. Most of those Wakandans were killed but the survivors surfaced over the years and were repatriated back to Wakanda.
The Black Panther – with no reason to suspect that N’Jadaka wasn’t being completely truthful – okayed his transport back to the isolated African nation in a Quin-Jet. N’Jadaka – the future Erik Killmonger – successfully hid Venomm/ Horatio Walters in with his belongings.
This allowed Erik to smuggle Venomm on board the Quin-Jet taking N’Jadaka back to Wakanda. Once there N’Jadaka spirited Horatio out of Wakanda City and off to the village which Killmonger would soon take over and make his rebel capital, renaming it N’Jadaka, after his pre-revolutionary self.
Venomm’s devotion to the charismatic Killmonger is still strong and he romantically describes Erik’s war to overthrow T’Challa by comparing it to American Westerns with – in his biased view – Killmonger as a relentless, violent but sympathetic hero.
At length the interrogation ends and as Venomm is being prepared for a return to his cell, the opportunity Horatio has been biding his time for presents itself. In the milli-second in which his jailers’ focus on him waivers he grabs a gun from a guard and pulls off an escape from the Royal Palace.
T’Challa and Monica arrive back at the night-darkened palace to learn that Horatio is at large and that he seriously wounded W’Kabi during his escape. The Security Chief is unconscious and hospitalized.
Taku, through his close relationship with Venomm during his imprisonment, tells the Black Panther that he is convinced Horatio will likely return to N’Jadaka Village first, to round up his pack of trained vipers. After that, he will try to lose himself in the jungle until he can once again hook up with Killmonger.
The Black Panther sets out for N’Jadaka Village in a short-hop Quinjet, hoping to head off Venomm and recapture him. Even though time is of the essence, T’Challa preemptively lands in the outskirts of Wakanda City because he spots the young Kantu, in tears and wandering.
As regular readers will recall, Kantu’s father was killed by Baron Macabre back in part four of Panther’s Rage. Since then T’Challa has had a bit of a soft spot for the child, because he reminds him of himself when he was Kantu’s age and was coping with his father T’Chaka’s murder at the hands of Ulysses Klaw.
Our hero’s conscience won’t allow him to go on with his larger plans and just ignore the pain and suffering that he knows Kantu is going through, to say nothing of the potential dangers the child is subjecting himself to by wandering the night-time jungle region unaccompanied.
T’Challa lands and has a sympathetic conversation with Kantu, doing what he can to ease his pain, though he knows it will do nothing to help him in his larger mission. AND YES, THIS HIGHLIGHTS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BLACK PANTHER AND KILLMONGER.
A few installments back I brought attention to the metaphorical significance of an action taken by Killmonger back in Serpent Valley. When his Lieutenant Tayette attempted to free a dying bird from the mire of oil and mud that was killing that bird, Erik forcefully stopped Tayette from saving the poor creature’s life by freeing it.
Killmonger being Killmonger, he accompanied it with a statement of his eternally callous philosophy, telling Tayette that if they were to waste time helping every weaker creature they came across on their path to greatness they would never reach their destination. The pitiful bird subsequently died because Killmonger stopped Tayette from taking the brief moment it would have required to free it and therefore save its life.
Here we see T’Challa acting on a personal philosophy quite different from – in fact completely opposed to – Erik/ N’Jadaka’s. He takes the necessary time to try to ease the burden of pain felt by another, weaker “creature.” Another creature, in fact, who does not hold sufficient rank or position to do him any immediate good in return.
In the next chapter we will see the manifest completion of the point that Don McGregor has been making with this.
Back to the literal story, T’Challa’s side-trip to console Kantu and see him safely home has prevented him from beating Venomm to N’Jadaka Village. The villain arrived first and swore revenge on the Black Panther for destroying the village back when he led his army here in part six.
Not only that but Horatio had enough time to set a trap for T’Challa. As our hero and Venomm battle throughout the ruins of N’Jadaka, the latter eventually maneuvers the Black Panther into a trap where a python trained by Venomm wraps itself around him.
The sudden arrival of another short-hop Quinjet distracts Venomm from finishing off T’Challa while he struggles in the python’s coils. It turns out that Taku piloted the Quinjet here.
He and Venomm exchange some dialogue in which Horatio shares his grief over seeing what little is left of the only place on Earth where he never felt like a disfigured freak and Taku shares his pain over Lord Karnaj’s slaying of a small child the day N’Jadaka Village fell.
T’Challa, meanwhile, overpowers and kills the python encircling him but is so weary from the struggle that he falls to his knees in exhaustion. Venomm gestures for the rest of his snakes – all of them poisonous – to attack the Black Panther while he is still vulnerable.
Taku stands between T’Challa and the slithering, advancing snakes. Venomm tells him to get out of the way but Taku insists that Venomm will need to have his vipers kill him (Taku) before he’ll let them kill T’Challa. Despite himself, Horatio cannot disregard the friendship he has come to feel for Taku and there is a standoff.
Venomm tries to sell Taku on the “glories” of Killmonger’s revolution and how it will change everything. Taku replies with the story’s title quote, pointing out that “All our past decades have seen revolutions, Horatio. And nothing changes. People die. Men like you and I die. The revolution itself dies. Revolutions give people the illusion that they are doing something with their lives.”
He might also have added that Killmonger’s version of a “revolution” is really just predatory crime with a veneer of political grievance being used to justify the violence, the atrocities and the high body count. (Remember all the noncombatants tortured and killed by Erik and his followers in the early chapters? )
At any rate, Venomm cannot bring himself to have his vipers kill Taku so he and his snakes slither off into the jungle, while Taku helps the Black Panther to his feet and the two prepare to fly back to Wakanda City. +++
NEXT TIME: The way that Don McGregor structured the two remaining chapters goes like this: the upcoming Twelfth chapter is the Grand Finale, the climax of Panther’s Rage as Killmonger at last launches his attack on Wakanda City.
The Thirteenth chapter that follows is a feature-length Epilogue which nicely wraps up all loose ends and takes a look at what has changed for so many of our characters … At least for the ones who survive the attack on Wakanda City in part Twelve.
CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR PART TWELVE. SAME PANTHER-TIME, SAME PANTHER-CHANNEL.
FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE MAIN LIST OF CENTAUR COMICS SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE
FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE MAIN LIST OF THE RURAL HOME/ CROYDON SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE
FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE MEMBERS OF INFINITE HORIZON CLICK HERE
FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes
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