Black Panther (4th series) #32

Issue Date: 
January 2008
Story Title: 
Gangsta Lean– part 2

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

Brief Description: 

The new Fantastic Four were playing possum. The thing explains to the others that this is a Skrull planet influenced by gangsters from the past. They let aliens fight in the arena here. Once he was kidnapped and the other FF saved him. They’d thought they’d destroyed the racket. The gangsters get reenforcements and one by one the FF fall, except for Storm whom Black Panther orders away, as one of them has to stay free.

Full Summary: 

Several excited men watch with rapt attention two alien monsters fighting each other in an arena. A reporter notes that even with severe wounds the challenger from planet Plaxus will not yield. A hand for their fighters today! One certain member of the audience shouts: enough with the pacing. Get ta killin’!

Whose idea was it to put a guy who can regenerate limbs in the ring with the champ - he’s boring him to tears! He keeps complaining. And look at the weasel Poog, he remarks angrily, looking at an African-American man surrounded by other African-Americans. He thinks he can get the drop of him and take over the fight game? He oughtta knock his head right off!

A servant comes in to talk to the complaining man, Mister Smalls, and is welcomed by his bodyguards’ guns. Smalls recognizes him and warns Barnesworth not to sneak up on a fella like that. He could get hurt that way. Nervously, Barnesworth whispers something in his ears. Excited, Smalls orders his boys to saddle up. They got business to handle!

Poog notices Smalls and his men leaving. One of his henchmen remarks jokingly he probably can’t stand to see this lousy fight he set up. He can’t wait for Poog to take over this racket. Maybe sooner than he thinks, comes the ominous reply.

Outside, Smalls gets into his limo and asks Barnesworth if he is sure it’s him. One-eyed Joe says so and he used to be a janitor in the old days. He washed out his stalls when they had him under control.

The limo takes off to fly and Smalls vows that that one eyed bastard better be right or he’ll lose his last good one.

Elsewhere, said One-eyed Joe angrily tells his colleague Hudlum who just shot the new FF he must be crazy. He can’t just leave the Thing like this. He’s the Thing! The other man remarks that considering he just rocked ‘em all to sleep, he ain’t too worried. He got the drop on them, Joe replies. Next time, they’ll be ready. The Thing alone could take down the whole place. He seen him do it. Joe don’t see so good, the other guy mocks him. Joe warns him not to laugh. He’ll see how hard he is laughing when the Thing rips up the sidewalk like carpet. Look, Hudlum tells him, when the big boss gets here, they’ll bring a power harness. Until then, he’s got this…okay?

Joe suddenly mutters he is getting an ache in his bones like it’s gonna snow or rain. The younger man remarks he hopes he’ll drop dead before he ends up a creepy old fart like… That moment, a lightning bolt strikes him and the FF are up and out for blood. He knew it Joe mutters.

The FF see the cops and gangsters both threatening them with what appear to be ordinary firearms. Ya gotta be kidding me, the Thing mutters. Well, if he does, it’ll be nasty, the Torch replies and asks Storm. Actually, he has this one covered, the Black Panther chimes in. Huh? the Torch asks. The cops are as astonished as they find their guns don’t work. Wakanda developed technology to defeat firearms centuries ago, the Panther explains, before pointing out that this doesn’t seem to be their Earth. Are they even in the right dimension? Uh-oh, Ben mutters, as he sees a street sign bearing the name Yancy Street. That ain’t a good sign…

T’Challa takes one of King Solomon’s frogs into his hands. He knows they understand them and they are tired of their games, Storm addresses it. End this nonsense or they will destroy the frogs. The frog smirks evilly, announcing they’ll see who is destroyed first. With that, the frogs disappear, leaving them behind.

That moment, several cars close in, intending to run them down. Ben smashes the first car, shouting that they are trying to talk here. He told them, Joe sighs as the others are flabbergasted.

The Panther decides that more effective weaponry will be arriving soon. They’ve got to get out of here. Ben agrees. He’s been here before and these guys mean business. As they start running, he mutters that he wouldn’t mind a little of Sue’s invisibility right now. What does he mean he’s been here before? Storm asks while Joe shouts for a phone.

Ben explains that Skrulls captured some mobster back in the 30ies as a pet and ended up turning the whole planet into a theme park based on his memories of being a mobster in the good old days. But with the Skrull technology they had the gizmos to take it to the next level. Instead of betting on the ponies, they had a gladiator arena set-up wit the best fighters in the galaxy including him.

Fortunately, Reed tracked Ben across the universe and the FF led a raid to free Ben and all the gladiators, Johnny continues the story. He can’t believe the Skrulls regrouped after a defeat like that. That moment, monsters and mobsters in flying cars attack. Say it, Ben, Ororo asks him. Oh it’s clobbering time all right, he replies.

The Panther turns to the Thing, recalling the X-Men have an attack maneuver called the “fastball special.” Is he familiar with it? Sure… if you go for that kind of thing, Ben replies, no offense, Storm. He tosses T’Challa at one of the flying cars. With his claws he holds tight.

It’s a Black Panther, one of the mobsters shouts. Don’t talk, shoot, the boss, Smalls, shouts. Kicking one of the gunmen, Panther suggests they talk instead.

The Torch fights a flying dragon man but is actually hurt by the fire it breathes. He falls.

Storm uses a gust of wind to have the dragon crash into the flying car.

T’Challa uses the situation to grab Smalls by the throat. He orders him to call off his men. Or he will slit his throat. Do yer worst, punk! comes he reply. The Panther begins to draw blood, causing the other man to emit a high-pitched scream. That girl squeal undermines your authority… punk, T’Challa replies.

Ben smashes a machine that tries to put a power harness on him. A hairy monster lands and orders him to submit to the harness now and spare himself pain, slave. Been there, worn that, ain’t going back, Ben replies. And no matter what his wardrobe, he’ll never be a slave!

He once said those words, the hairy being replies. He used to fight in the arena and escaped, Ben assures him. He can too! While he is distracted, from behind a robot manages to harness Ben with a collar.

Storm has caught Johnny who still wonders why that flame was able to hurt him. Maybe it was a mystical force or some chemical reaction they’ve never seen on Earth, she suggests. She parks him on a roof and unleashes a thunder storm against their foes.

T’Challa threatens the boss to finish this or die.

Johnny enjoys the cooling rain but looking down he sees Ben captured. He tries to flame on, but can’t stay lit in the rainstorm.

Down there Ben still struggles. Johnny finally manages to flame on enough to nail Ben’s foe. However, he is too distracted to notice the enemy behind him until he too is harnessed.

The Panther and his car crash into a wall. The inhabitants of the apartment immediately help the gangster boss.

Down below in the rain, servants load Ben to the back of a truck with the help of anti-grav discs. One of them asks the boss where the other guy is. He turns around to find the boss lying on the ground. It’s a Panther attack, one of he cops shouts as the reason for that becomes clear. Gangsters and cops both attack T’Challa.

Storm fights the fire breathing dragon. She manages to evade it but has more flying cars with gangsters shooting at her. T’Challa contacts her and orders her to leave the area while he looks after Ben and Johnny. The odds are about to get overwhelming. They cannot all be captured. They will shoot her down! Again, he orders her to leave and reluctantly she obeys.

The hairy gladiator tells T’Challa that he can fight but he won’t beat him. He will defeat him and his robot friend, T’Challa replies, using his technology to paralyze the robot and then taking out the gladiator with a kick. Nice finish, slave, the gangster boss remarks. T’Challa finds himself surrounded. Smalls tells him he and his little buddies got spunk. They’re gonna do great in the arena until they die!

Characters Involved: 

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

Hudlum, One-eyed Joe and other gangsters working for Smalls

Poog’s henchman

King Solomon’s frogs


in in flashback:
Crystal, Human Torch, Mr Fantastic, Thing (all Fantastic Four)


Story Notes: 

The FF visited the gangster planet in fantastic four (1st series) #91 -93.

It says part 2 of 6, but the story is actually a 4-parter.

Written By: