Friday, February 23, 2018

Ugh, success went to the Panther's head...


Sometimes I wish I planned ahead around here a little more, since I had thought about blogging these issues prior to seeing Black Panther; but this might have worked out better anyway. Today we've got the first part of "Cat Trap," from 2000, Deadpool #44, "Cat Trap (or: Wakanda Merc Are You?)" Written by (Christopher) Priest, pencils by James (Jim) Calafiore, inks by Jon Holdredge.

Priest was writing both Deadpool and Black Panther at the time, so a crossover between the two seems reasonable enough, but I don't think I can understate how idiosyncratic and unique both were then. He had rebuilt T'Challa and his whole world, and introduced viewpoint character Everett K. Ross for the Panther's Marvel Knights book; while in Deadpool he picked up what was left after Joe Kelly's run and went a completely different direction. Pool was living with "roommates" the Constrictor and Titania, who he describes here as willing to "...kill me for a sack of gummy bears!" He liked having people around, but didn't necessarily want to get attached to or count on them. Also, he had "Thom Cruz's" face, after a somewhat convoluted encounter with Loki. Meanwhile, T'Challa was injured and recovering from his loss to Erik Killmonger: while he was still king, Killmonger was now chieftain--and Black Panther! The Avengers had been trying to reach T'Challa, to see what was up with that.

To throw more fuel on the fire, this issue has the Reverend Michael Ibn al-hajj Achebe (a Panther villain, described as "a kook of the first order," with a hand-puppet in his likeness named Daki) hire Deadpool to recover his beloved pet leopard Ukatana. This is a lie, and Pool knows it, but is self-destructive enough to take the job anyway. Or maybe he just wanted to keep Daki. The leopard was in fact Killmonger's companion Preyy, and was currently playing frisbee with Triathlon on the lawn of Avengers Mansion, while inside Tony Stark, Hank Pym, and Janet Van Dyne try to figure out what, if anything, they should do with Killmonger; who seemed to show up there like Black Panther was a post on the team. (Tony nixes that, saying the team voted in the man, not "the office of Black Panther.") Pool shows up, unmasked and posing as an animal control officer (with a slight aside to another of Priest's characters!) and slips a teleportation device on Preyy; which also takes Triathlon with it. The exit portion of Pool's plan is not as well thought out, as the Avengers have some questions for him.

Outside the mansion, Titania (who has a secret we won't go into here!) and Constrictor wait for their signal, while Achebe uses an image inducer to pass himself off as T'Challa and calls Tony. (Who himself was using an inducer to appear in armor!) Achebe's just muddying the waters here, telling Tony to go ahead and induct Killmonger and not worry about Wakandan doings and largely blowing him off. Pool is mostly having fun fighting the Avengers, since, as often happened in Priest's run, "I've convinced myself none of this is actually happening!"

He's also impressed with Killmonger, and his moves!

Pool and his crew try to escape, in an ice cream truck with the music stuck on; and it becomes readily apparent Achebe screwed them over: he's gone, and Preyy and Triathlon have been teleported to Wakanda. T'Challa is told of both that and the Avengers trying to reach him, but says to ignore them both, since the real fight was tomorrow...

This feels more like a Black Panther issue than a Deadpool one, and we'll see if the reverse is true when we check out the conclusion. It was also Priest's second-to-last issue of Deadpool, next month he and Calafiore would wrap up Titania's secret, Pool's face, and the villain behind some of his current problems. The later is somewhat incidental, Deadpool was responsible for most of his problems...

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Huh. Sounds good. I do like me some Jim Califore art though.
I'm guessing the secret is that "Titania" was really Copycat/Vanessa the whole time. 'Pool definitely had some weird company in "Titania" and Constrictor though.

That bit with Tony and Achebe was funny too. I guess we'll see if Achebe got away it or not because I don't see T'Challa letting that shit slide.