Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive is one of the best books currently being produced at Marvel (the other is Journey Into Mystery). Liss writes a great street book, as good as any Vertigo stuff, but set right in the Marvel Universe and starring well known characters. This issue is part of a storyline that will be the last in the book, so we're getting a lot of action packed into it. I read the three issues in this arc back to back, so my apologies if my review bleeds into the others.
This issue focuses on the Panther and the Kingpin and their duel of wits and wills. Both believe they are manipulating the other, and it will be fun to find out who comes out on top. While one would expect this to be the Panther in his own book, nothing is certain when the kingpin is involved.
Liss writes some great scenes here. Kingpin's interaction with Miyu is very well done, if a little creepily sexual. Panther's interaction with his own apprentice, Sofija, mirrors this. There is a lot of duality in this story, and it doesn't beat the reader over the head. It's done very skillfully and it makes it a joy to read.
Speaking of a joy to read, let's talk about Martinborough's art. It's tough to follow Francavilla because he's one of the best artists in the business right now, and his work on this book is just beautiful. But Martinborough does a fantastic job himself. I'm particularly impressed with some of the scenes involving the Kingpin's girls. When Mary and Bullseye return from fighting the Panther and Kingpin asks Miyu to remain in the room (was that in 525?), they exchange a series of looks that convey thoughts and meaning beyond the words being exchanged.
When the Panther meets with the Kingpin in a scene that mirrors the earlier one, this time with Miyu being seemingly dismissed, we cut away to a scene with Lady Bullseye and Typhoid Mary eating Ice Cream in the kitchen which reminded me of some of the early work on Gotham City Sirens before it went to shit, which is a compliment to both Liss and Martinborough here. Overall, I enjoy this book more than any other (except maybe JIM) each month, and it's a tragedy to see it end.
One tiny crit is that the Hand is so overused (and thus defeated so many times by every hero in the MU) that Liss has to out of his way to make excuses for them throughout this arc. He does a good enough job of that though.
No Francavilla: -1
Didn't miss Francavilla: +1