Black Panther (4th series) #31

Issue Date: 
December 2007
Story Title: 
Dead Or Alive – part 1

Reginald Hudlin (writer), Francis Portela (penciler & Inker), Val Staples (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Billy Tan & Frank D’Armata (cover), Daniel Ketchum (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The Black Panther finds himself in a “paradise,” where he finds his wife in lewd actions with the other X-Men. A battle ensues and eventually the Panther God kills Storm for not being worthy. T’Challa realizes this is an illusion and soon finds himself in a lab with Storm, a prisoner of the Psycho-Man. The two manage to beat him with the help of T’Chaka and some other Panthers, but Storm’s powers seem lost. T’Challa realizes this is an illusion as well and Storm manages to snap them out of it and overload the Psycho-Man’s systems while doing so. They free the other members of the Fantastic Four and confront Solomon’s frogs whom they believe are malicious. The frogs teleport them again to anther place that looks like New York in the 30ies. The gangsters there recognize the Thing and immediately fire at them with futuristic weapons.

Full Summary: 

The Black Panther awakes looking around, his first action calling his wife’s name. But she isn’t there. Neither are their new teammates, the Thing and the Human Torch. He is all alone in the clouds, in front of him Pearly Gates. This is not a good sign, he states.

He passes the gates and walks along a golden road towards a futuristic city. Suddenly, he sees Storm flying past him. He calls after her and sees her land some distance ahead of him in a jungle. He tries to find her.

Wondering if the vegetation is even Earthly, the Panther suddenly has to fight as the vines come alive and try to drag the him down, but with his strength and claws he easily he frees himself. Again, he cries out Ororo’s name, this time in surprise.

He sees her in front of him, in a very luxurious setting and skimpily dressed. Next to her are Yukio, whom Storm strokes, and Wolverine. Also lying on the pillows are Colossus with Kitty Pryde and Gambit with Rogue. Not phased in the least, Ororo welcomes him. T’Challa takes off his mask as he asks what this about. They are X-Men, Storm explains. Did he think all those powers were just for beating up bad guys?

Why fight? Wolverine asks him. It’s a reaaal good time. Eating some grapes seductively, Yukio adds that Ororo’s told her so much about T’Challa she feels like they are already intimate. The Panther tells himself he must be hallucinating. Or maybe it’s dream come true, somebody suggests as a body presses itself to his back, that of the White Queen.

T’Challa believes he has now found his culprit and that she is manipulating his mind. Storm never trusted her and she was right. Storm tells him to relax. They are all family now.

With that, Emma kisses T’Challa passionately. He tries to break free, muttering that he is married. Emma kisses him again and this time his and her flesh begin to merge, creating a strange double being.

Suddenly, there is a loud roar from the sky. The Panther god looks down on them displeased. What is this madness? he declares. The X-Men immediately get into attack formation while T’Challa, still merged with Emma, protests that this is sacrilege. Emma tells him to relax.

Storm flies upwards to the Panther god. No disrespect but they’ve faced their fair share of gods and celestial beings, so before he starts judging.…

She has broken a sacred vow to him, he declares. The penalty is death! With that, he eats her. T’Challa can finally tear loose of Emma and shoves her away as he shouts his wife’s name.

Cyclops appears, protesting his treatment of Emma. T’Challa runs past him and shoves him away as well. Looking at Scott lying on the ground, Wolverine remarks “nice one.” He always wanted to do that. Too bad for the Panther, Cyclops is an X-Man and T’Challa is not. They always take care of their own. He unsheathes his claws and the other X-Men look at the Panther threateningly. They begin to attack. “This is insane!” the Panther shouts as he barely evades Colossus’ blows.

The Panther god reminds him that after he defeats those fools, he must still face his judgment.

T’Challa decides this isn’t real. He closes his eyes, trying to tune out his attackers… and succeeds. He awakes alone in a huge hall. So it wasn’t real. But what is?

Elsewhere, Storm finds herself tied up, a prisoner of the Psycho-Man, who wonders why she is so resistant to emotional suggestion. Perhaps her colleagues in the X-Men have placed some formidable safeguards against such action. Let’s take a peek inside, he suggests, apparently meaning it literally, as he has got a kind of saw in his hand. Frustrating isn’t it? he asks her. He can disable her mutant ability, but can’t convince her that the Panther is her enemy.

The next moment, a piece of the wall is tossed aside, as the Panther jumps in, announcing that he cannot rend what the Panther god has blessed. Now him, he can control, the Psycho-Man replies with an evil smirk.

Projecting doubt into his psyche is enough to undermine his fighting ability. Totally insecure, T’Challa curls up in a ball. The villain remarks that while he wallows, he will finish dissecting his wife.

But that moment, another Black Panther enters, ready to fight. Armed with a spear, he appears to be the former Panther T’Chaka. Isn’t he dead? Storm asks dumbfounded. No, T’Chaka replies and spears the Psycho-Man, he is.

While T’Chaka looks after his son, two more Panthers – one of them female – enter and help Ororo. Who is she? Storm asks the woman. She didn’t think all Panthers were male, did she? comes the reply. If there were female popes, they better believe a nation as progressive as Wakanda has…

Storm interrupts her. Panicked, she realizes she still can’t access her power. The dying Psycho-Man tells her that his final gift to her is mere humanity. Her gifts die with him.

No, Storm panics. The older Panther promises her they will reconnect her to her essence. Maybe Xavier or even Emma can help, Storm rambles. Even if they can’t, she can take Panther training, he suggests. Only one Panther per generation, yet another Panther reminds him. Why? comes the question. Ororo shouts that they are crowding her.

T’Challa addresses his father. He doesn’t believe this either. She can fix this! Storm shouts and closes her eyes. She just needs to be left alone! Energy flares…

And Storm finds herself back to reality, a reality where all four of them are captured by the Psycho-Man and her energy outburst freed her as well as fried most of their host’s tech. The Thing commends her but notes that Johnny who’s unconscious got shocked pretty bad. T’Challa quickly frees himself and catches the Torch. They find the Psycho-Man shivering on the ground. Between their willpower and the electrical shock he caught a bad one, Ben surmises.

Ororo confides in T’Challa that in her dream Psycho-Man brought her worst anxieties about their relationship to life. T’Challa takes off his mask and confides it was the same for him. But he was not able to turn them against each other. And they both ultimately rejected his instigations. They exchange love vows and kiss. Ben rolls his eyes in mock disgust at the display.

Breaking off the kiss, Ororo warns T’Challa that later they need to talk about his relatives. Same here, but regarding her association with the X-Men, comes the reply. Uh guys, man down here, Ben points at Johnny.

T’Challa begins to apologize. No need to explain, Ben replies. After Psycho-Man messes with yer head, you end up in family therapy even after you kick his butt. T’Challa examines Johnny. Considering a normal man would be dead, he’s fine. He suggests his ability to transmute into living flames helps in a situation like this.

Do those insulated long johns chafe in the summer? Ben refers to the Panther’s uniform. He can make him a pair of shock-proof hot pants if he wishes, comes the reply. Now “Mr. taciturn” is making jokes, Ben sighs. They are rubbing off on him. But where are they? Storm wonders. Reality or another dream? And if it is real, are they in their own world? Black Panther asks. Or in the subatomica of a parallel universe? Not to mention, where are those blasted frogs? Ben asks. Johnny wakes up muttering he had the weirdest dream. He thinks the zombie part was real though…

They find the frogs glaring at them from within a force field. They are not really going to use them again, are they? Johnny asks nervously. Ben agrees. There’s enough doohickeys around there to figure out some other kind of ride home. Let’s just leave them here.

Storm disagrees. They are too dangerous. So the consensus is that they are conscious and malicious. They are at least mischievous, Storm agrees, but malevolently so. Johnny suggests he light a fire under them until they talk. They note the frog beginning to sweat. He notices he’s about to get caught and friend. Or is it condensation? Only one way to know for sure.

It’s not the scientific approach, but he is peeved, T’Challa agrees and asks Johnny to do the honors.

He lights up his finger but before can reach the frog it teleports them away. But it looks like he scared it into cooperating, Johnny remarks as he looks at the Empire State Building. Looks like they are finally home. Then they see an airship. Then again… he sighs.

Suddenly, they are ordered to freeze. Some out-of-towners on his run, a gangster in 30ies clothing remarks while his goons threaten them with guns. They gotta be kidding him, Ben sighs. Does he recognize this man? Storm asks. Worse than that…

The gangster grins, recognizing Ben. There’s big money on his head. He and the cat-man. He orders his boys to spray them. They fire, but not bullets but some kind of energy and the heroes fall. The gangster orders his men to get that bunch ready for the arena…

Characters Involved: 

Black Panther, the Human Torch, Storm, the Thing (all Fantastic Four)


King Solomon’s frogs


in illusions:

Black Panther, Storm

Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Rogue, Shadowcat, White Queen, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Panther God


Other Black Panthers


Story Notes: 
Issue Information: 
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