Black Panther (4th series) #8

Issue Date: 
November 2005
Story Title: 
Wild Kingdom - part 2: House of Paine

Reginald Hudlin (writer), David Yardin (pencils), Jay Leisten (inks), Dean White (colors), VC’s Randy Gentile (letters), Gary Frank (cover), Cory Sedlmeier (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The X-Men find an unconscious man lying nearby the Black Panther and think he has gone insane. When the man tries to reach out to the mutants for help, the Panther pulls him black and closes the X-Men in behind a door, so he can deal with the situation alone. Despite Storm’s warnings to trust T’Challa, Havok orders Rogue to burst open the door with her flame powers. She does, and the X-Men begin their battle against the Panther. During the battle, Rogue tries to help the attacked man out, and then he shows his true colors. He’s actually a mutant himself, and absorbs Rogue’s powers! He attacks the other X-Men succeeding in absorbing both Iceman’s and Wolverine’s powers. Havok manages to hit the man and makes him fly through the roof. Once everyone is calmed down, the Panther reveals that their enemy is called Erich Paine, a former resident of Genosha, who transformed people into becoming mutants. Paine also activated his own latent mimicking mutant powers, so he had powers on his own, which he can turn on and off by a single touch on his arm. Paine did this because he knew that, no matter where he was, the X-Men would some day come after him, so he took some precautions. T’Challa was in the lab to try build a containment suit for Paine, so he couldn’t harm the X-Men. Feeling stupid, the X-Men, minus Storm, initiate a search for him. Storm and T’Challa talk about the former romantic feelings they once shared, with Ororo refusing to let T’Challa break her heart a second time. She takes on T’Challa’s warnings that some people are being harassed by hunters, and Ororo leaves to protect them. Returning to her role as the Goddess of the Desert, a bare-naked Storm locates and helps a poor mother and her child. Meanwhile, the other X-Men get knocked out by powerful gas, and Paine strikes Wolverine down with the help of his absorbed adamantium claws. A few moments later, he contacts his boss and has imprisoned the X-Men in separate containment cells. Paine informs his boss that, after a final payment his job will be fulfilled, and he can also have the X-Men: as a set, single… or in parts! He opens Lorna’s cell, holding a chainsaw ready.

Full Summary: 

The X-Men are startled when they find none other than the Black Panther, researching in a lab. They notice an unconscious man lying on the floor. Storm panics and powers up, demanding to know what’s going on. The Panther warns the mutants to stay where they are, under all circumstances. Iceman doesn’t like the tone in T’Challa’s voice, wondering who he is. Storm whispers, defending that T’Challa is a king. Gambit corrects that may be, but T’Challa doesn’t rule this country. Havok, powering up as well, demands some answers from the Panther.

The man gets up and is seemingly frightened. He claims that the Panther has gone mad and is in need of the X-Men’s help. The Panther notices this and attacks the man. He gracefully leaps over the man’s back and pushes him back to the other side of the room. T’Challa lands down, and closes the door in front of the X-Men! Havok and Iceman look at the Panther continuing the battle, but Rogue wonders who the bad guy is.

Havok doesn’t think that the situation looks right and wants to do something. Storm, trusting T’Challa, holds Alex back. He gets angry and defends that he’s the leader of this team. He orders Rogue to use her powers to break the door open. She throws her flames against the wall, making a hole into the thick door. Lorna jokes that she could have done a cleaner job.

The Panther panics when he sees the X-Men, and begs them to stay back, claiming they don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. Wolverine shouts that they need some answers. He snikts out his claws, threatening that they can do this the easy way… or the hard way! Though the Panther doesn’t want to hurt the X-Men, he attacks Logan. He grabs the diminutive mutant by his clothes, and throws him against his teammates.

Rogue quickly gets up again and tens to the Panther’s victim, asking if he’s okay. T’Challa freaks out when he sees that and runs towards Rogue, but Polaris magnetically throws a table against him. Suddenly, the man gets up and touches Rogue. But, instead of her absorbing the man’s abilities, the man absorbs Rogue! He sarcastically asks Rogue how many times she did this to another mutant, and attacks the Panther with her flame powers! The man angrily shouts that he would rather kill the Panther for what he did to him, but he claims to have more urgent concerns.

T’Challa has to duck, and the man manages to absorb both Iceman and Wolverine’s powers. He loves it when they fight back. Havok defends his teammates, using his powers at full strength and blows the man through the roof! That didn’t go so well. Gambit wants to know who that man was.

The Panther walks over to the X-Men, revealing that their enemy is named Dr. Erich Paine. He was the chief scientist at the laboratories in Genosha, a technological paradise that had a quality of life that rivaled Wakanda. The exception was that Genosha was built on the back of mutant slavery. Paine’s specialty was mutating humans, creating super-powered slaves with no will to resist. The government paid him well for the services. Wolverine defends that they know all about Genosha, but they thought that all the mad scientists had been killed. Apparently not all, T’Challa corrects. This guy was clever enough to slip out before the island was destroyed.

Dr. Paine set up shop here in Niganda, where a large government bribe bought him the freedom to do his experiments regardless of human or environmental cost. Just the runoffs from his factory alone polluted the water of the country with dangerous chemicals. Because Wakanda has a strict non-intervention policy, they couldn’t do anything until Niganda attempted to annex Wakanda. They then removed M’Butu from power and took action against his facility. Storm doesn’t like the “removing M’Butu” statement much. She recalls that she heard the Panther started by removing the man’s teeth one punch at the time.

T’Challa defends that M’Butu threatened his country and family, leaving T’Challa with not a lot of choice. Once war broke out, the country’s power grid quickly failed. Before the factory’s backup power generators kicked in, some of Paine’s creations got lose and started eating people.

Havok is more interested in learning about the real threat here. He wants to know how Paine became a mutant. T’Challa mentions that Paine knew the X-Men would come for him sooner or later, so he took certain precautions. He built a latent mimicking ability into his own system that he could trigger on touch. T’Challa was trying to find a containment suit so Paine wouldn’t be able to touch any of the X-Men when they came barging in. Havok wants to know why they weren’t told any of this. T’Challa defends why the X-Men didn’t have their telepaths read his intentions. Alex smiles that’s because she decided to stay home. T’Challa understands.

Alex wants to know why they are standing there talking when obviously there’s a psychopath on the loose. T’Challa suggests that only team members who have already had their powers absorbed by Paine pursue him, as that would limit the possibility of him getting more powers. He tells Storm that she in particular is needed elsewhere. He thinks she’s the most appropriate person to squelch the rioting outside.

Logan defends that he knows T’Challa is only trying to help, but the X-Men know how to set up their players. T’Challa defends that it was only a suggestion. He’ll keep going through Paine’s research to see if there is any kind of deactivation switch for the monsters on the loose. T’Challa hasn’t secured this facility enough to allow his scientists to come in there and help him go through the files.

He asks the X-Men if any of them have advanced computer skills or are experts in genetics or physiology. Alex denies that they’ve got anyone on the current team. T’Challa was hoping either Beast or Shadowcat were available, but apparently not. Alex suggests that Storm stays with the Panther, because that was what she was apparently going to do anyway. He orders the others to follow him, and they depart.

T’Challa jokes that Havok certainly showed him who’s boss, and wants to know where the real X-Men are. Storm whispers T’Challa to shut up, as they are her friends he’s talking about, and good people. T’Challa wants to know if Wolverine is Storm’s boyfriend. Storm doesn’t know what he’s talking about. T’Challa doesn’t believe that, as he can smell the troll’s passion for her. Storm angrily defends, wanting to know how many women are currently in T’Challa’s harem. <>

T’Challa takes off his mask, joking that he has been a monk recently, waiting for Ororo to return to him. Storm defends that T’Challa shouldn’t start this argument with her. She has avoided this entire continent because of him, and he’s about to remind her why! T’Challa puts his mask on again, thinking that’s fine. Ororo can handle her business and he’ll do the same. Storm agrees. T’Challa gently places his hand on Ororo’s shoulder, reminding her that these people don’t care about the X-Men and only want a goddess. Storm tells T’Challa that he may be wise, but he won’t break her heart a second time. Without adding any more, Storm walks out of the lab alone.

Meanwhile, the X-Men are trying to find their way out of the lab. Rogue didn’t fell this stupid since she first met Xavier. Bobby doesn’t think that the Panther likes mutants much. Logan angrily says that he sure likes Storm, as he could smell it on the guy. Speaking off smelling things, Logan catches a scent behind a nearby wall: gas! Havok tells Bobby to ice all the vents. He warns that they’re standing in a long hallway, so it might take him a minute. But, he starts anyway. After covering down most vents, Bobby gets shot down by lasers!

Polaris defends him and destroys most lasers with her powers, and Gambit finishes it with some charged up playcards. Though the Cajun accidentally hit the gas pipe, and now the gas is pumping in hard! Rogue tries to keep them closed, but with no luck. The gas quickly takes out most X-Men and only Wolverine is left standing. He thinks that this gas must be also used to knock out elephants. He thinks he better contacts Storm. But, before Logan gets the chance to, he gets struck through his stomach by… adamantium claws?!

It’s Paine! Logan bleeds, and faints. The doctor jokes that the claws certainly look nice.

Meanwhile, outside the lab…

An angry mob of hunters are chasing a woman and her child. They call the woman a traitor and want to make her pay for her supposed crimes. They send out hyenas after them, and the woman comes out of her hiding place, and panicking starts running away. But on that very moment, the entire sky starts turning black! The hunters are startled, not understanding what’s going on.

One of the hunters begs to leave the child alive, as virgins cure cancer and it can help him. The boss isn’t interested, but promises they’ll find another one. Suddenly, the hyenas are struck by a bolt of lightning! Surprised, the victims look up. It’s Storm! Bare-naked, she shouts that the Goddess of the Desert has returned. And this mother and her child are under her protection and she will destroy any man who dares hurting them. The hunters, not afraid of Storm, thinking she is a mere ghost, take out their knives ready to cut her. Storm destroys the blades with another lightning bolt, challenging the men to take their shot if they want and find out what men they really are.

Back at the lab…

The Panther’s scientists contact him over intercom. They want to know why their leader doesn’t let them hack into the system remotely. T’Challa explains that, given the number of booby traps he had to disarm just to get this far, he doesn’t want to risk infecting the Wakandan computer systems with some sort of virus. The scientists agree, and want to send in a squadron to help him secure the lab. T’Challa asks his helpers to shut up, as he hears something. He smells something, too.

While scouting the lab, T’Challa gets grabbed by behind by… a four-armed baboon! The baboon throws T’Challa against the wall, reminding T’Challa that he really hates these animals. Suddenly, the baboon starts talking, defending that “they” hate T’Challa as well. Another monkey enters, claiming he can do a lot more than that: he hypnotizes the Panther, making him unable to move. The baboon prepares itself for the final punch.

Elsewhere in the lab, Paine stands on a balcony, and looks below. He takes a stick and pours with it into a green fluid filled test tank, in which more mutated people lie. He’s talking to his boss on the phone, informing that the order is ready. Only the final payment needs to be made and the order will be available for pickup. Paine descends some stairs, and walks over to a back corner where more containment cells are situated. Paine informs his boss that he just acquired some new items, and they are available as singles, a complete set or… in parts! Paine takes a closer look at the cells, in which the now chained X-Men lie. He opens up Polaris’ cell and holds a chainsaw ready! Lorna panics.

Characters Involved: 

Black Panther

Gambit, Havok, Iceman, Polaris, Rogue, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Storm (all X.S.E.)

Dr. Erich Paine

several African criminals/hunters (all unnamed)

chased mother and her child (both unnamed)

mutated people turned animals (all unnamed)

in Black Panther’s flash-back:

Black Panther

Dr. Erich Paine


several Genoshan mutants (all unnamed)

several African thugs (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

This story is continued from X-Men (2nd series) #175 and concludes in X-Men (2nd series) #176.

First appearance of Erich Paine.

At two occasions, during the battle of the Black Panther and the X-Men, Gambit’s pants are incorrectly colored green, instead of usual black.

Wakanda is the homeland of the Black Panther, where he is the ruling king. The Panther’s mentioning of the strict non-intervention policy was started in Black Panther (4th series) #1-6.

The X-Men first visited Genosha in Uncanny X-Men #235-238, in which they discovered their use of mutated slaves. The mutants often visited the island afterwards, mostly destroying it during battles against remaining Magistrates and several other villains. Genosha was mostly destroyed by Cassandra Nova’s Sentinel in New X-Men #114.

The telepath that decided to stay home, like Alex jokes, is of course Emma Frost, as seen in X-Men (2nd series) #175. The person who has advanced computer skills is Shadowcat, and the guy specialized in genetics or physiology is Beast, though neither person is part of Havok’s X-Men team.

The story how the Black Panther and Storm met can be found in Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #100.

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