Friday, March 02, 2018

Join the Avengers, they said. It'll be fun, they said. Feh!

Admittedly, the team didn't have Cap or Thor at the moment, and Iron Man was using a virtual antique of a suit, but still. On to the second part of "Cat Trap," from 2000, Black Panther #23, "More of that Business with the Avengers" Written by (Christopher) Priest, pencils by Sal Velluto, inks by Bob Almond.

After capturing (mostly off-panel) Deadpool, Titania, and Constrictor; the Avengers were on their way to Wakanda, with current Black Panther Erik Killmonger, to recover the kidnapped Avenger Triathlon and Killmonger's emotional support leopard Preyy. The Wakandan air force is not thrilled about having their airspace invaded, and while the Avengers want to talk it out, Killmonger angrily tells them that's the wrong tactic: this was his turf.

Meanwhile, Triathlon and Preyy are guests of the Reverend Michael Ibn Al-Hajj Achebe and his puppet Daki, who has brought them to Wakanda for the same reason he now brings Deadpool there: to stir up trouble. (Constrictor and Titania are none too thrilled with Pool at being left behind...!) Pool wants his cash and his puppet, but Achebe placates him with a new costume and "a little errand." First, Pool does have a brief conversation with Triathlon, who realizes Pool is missing something in his life, but was also basically a Scientologist so maybe don't take advice from him.

The Avengers and Killmonger want to see T'Challa, who was still recovering from his injuries deep in the techno-jungle beneath Wakanda, where the signal from Preyy's tracker now leads them. Although previously T'Challa had said this would be the real fight, he sits this one out, letting his Hatut Zeraze secret police (who look like white Panthers) defend the techno-jungle. Killmonger had apparently honestly wanted to be an Avenger, to bridge his worlds of America and Wakanda, but is just left frustrated with a team he sees as by-and-large useless and honorless: facing Pool in single combat, he's angered when they try to help. Pool and Killmonger scuffle for a bit, but the fight peters out when they're expelled from the techno-jungle: Pool wasn't going to kill him, and Killmonger realizes his plans were impeding Achebe's, who may have wanted T'Challa back in power for his own reasons. Pool suggests that maybe neither of them can change, even when they try; but Killmonger probably doesn't believe his "secret to life":

Pool teleports out, and Triathlon is recovered after a conversation with an unseen T'Challa, so the Avengers at least know he's alive. Killmonger wants nothing more to do with the "gutless" Avengers, but Everett Ross, current regent of the throne of Wakanda, surreptitiously asks if he can catch a ride back to America, only to be told his citizenship had been revoked by the State Department! And still in the techno-jungle, T'Challa finds two of his Hatut Zeraze dead, killed by Killmonger's girl Malice...!

A lot happens at the end there, but we don't see Preyy back with Killmonger! There may be a reason for that, and I don't like it. I really need to re-read the rest of these, since Killmonger's plotline would go on, on-and-off, for over a year, before he was killed by someone I wouldn't have expected! He's come back before, though; he may be due again. Achebe was created by Priest, and he describes the character as "the Joker to the Panther's Batman," but I'm not sure if any other writers have used him. I don't think he ever paid Deadpool either, so Pool comes away with nothing, which is a not-entirely-uncommon outcome for him.

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