This month, Marvel Adventures: Avengers continues to swirl down the drain, as Iron Man bows out to make room for the Black Panther.
A team of journalists—from the Exposition-TV network, apparently—explain that they are on location in the outskirts of the African nation of Wakanda, where a vicious cat-like creature has been wreaking havoc. Could it be that the legends of a Black Panther are true?
It seems the legends of Sabretooth are true, because the footage, recovered later Blair-Witch-style, shows the feral mutant tearing a swathe through the hapless reporters. Wolverine, watching the footage in New York, feels the pang of responsibility: he had the chance to take Sabretooth out before, and chose not to do so, which means he's partially responsible for Sabretooth's crimes... or so he reasons, anyway. He'd prefer to handle this alone, but Storm convinces him that he's on a team now, and the team will pitch in and help with this one.
Cut to Wakanda, where the Avengers, in full battle gear, roam through the jungles looking through Sabretooth. They don't find him, but they do find a bunch of Wakandan soldiers, who trap them in a net and menace them...
Did I mention the soldiers' uniforms consist solely of loincloths?
Anyway, a fight is about to break out, but then Storm conjures up some lightning, and the soldiers realize that their goddess has returned, and throw down their arms. Yes, that's right, the ignorant and superstitious soldiers have mistaken Ororo for a deity.
The Avengers depart for the Wakandan royal palace, where Ororo is reunited with her old friend T'Challa. They used to be inseparable, it seems, but their work got in the way: royalty, weather goddess, you know how it is. T'Challa introduces the Avengers to the missing journalists, whom his soldiers rescued when they crossed the Wakandan frontier. T'Challa takes his borders very seriously, it seems: his men—and the mysterious, legendary Black Panther, whoever that is—protect Wakanda, but let the world outside take care of itself. And, for this reason, T'Challa refuses to offer the Avengers any assistance in their efforts to track down or subdue Sabretooth. Ororo is deeply disappointed with her friend, and departs in sorrow.
That evening, as the other Avengers sleep in the jungle (in tents), Wolverine finally tracks his nemesis down. Brawl, brawl, brawl. Smack-talk, smack-talk, smack-talk.
Enter Storm! Brawl, brawl, brawl. Smack-talk, smack-talk, smack-talk.
Wolverine and Storm, finding themselves out-matched, call on their friends for help. The other Avengers? Why, no! The Wakandan soldiers, of course! Storm summons the wind to toss Sabretooth over the border. There are no soldiers waiting, though...
Enter the Black Panther and the rest of the Avengers! Brawl, smack-talk, etc.
Epilogue time. Turns out T'Challa was the Black Panther all along. Who'da thunk it? And the T'Challa has learned a valuable lesson about teamwork, or being proactive about threats, or something. And Storm and T'Challa patch up their relationship. Good for them!
This issue is three different flavours of terrible.
The story is stupid. Sabretooth is such a badass that Wolverine feels compelled to take him out personally, such a badass that he's more than a match for Wolverine and Storm together, but so lame that he can't kill a bunch of pudgy journalists, who easily escape him across Wakanda's borders.
The plot is stupid. It hinges on the mystery of the Black Panther's identity. Who could he be? Well, anyone who's vaguely familiar with the character already knows that. And anyone who's not familiar with the character could guess anyway, as there's only one new character in the story!
And, above all, the portrayal of Africa and Africans is stupid... or perhaps I should say "racist". The Wakandans use spears, wear loincloths, confuse outsiders with gods, and in all respects behave like embarrassing caricatures. And it's not just the Wakandans: Storm gushes about the "strong connection" she feels to the African continent. Because those Africans, man, their connection to the homeland is so primal. Come on, Marvel: there's no excuse for displaying the same racial sensitivity as a King Kong movie from the 1930s.
Up to now the guest-star cavalcade has merely made for cramped, boring stories. This time out it's all that, plus it's actively offensive to boot. Sadly, half a web is the lowest grade I can give.