Black Panther (4th series) #9

Issue Date: 
December 2005
Story Title: 
Wild Kingdom - part 4: Kingdom Boogie

Reginald Hudlin (writer), David Yardin (pencils), Jay Leisten (inks), Dean White (pgs. 1-3) & Matt Milla (pgs. 4-22) (inks), VC's Gentile (letters), Andy Brase (cover), Cory Sedlmeier (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

In the city of Niganda, a riot breaks out when one man doesn’t believe that Storm is a goddess. Back inside the base, the X-Men scout the area hoping to locate the Red Ghost, so they can bring him back to Dr. Paine and have Polaris released. As they locate him, the Ghost panics and turns invisible again. Wolverine smells something and, in a big room, they find the Black Panther fighting Dragon Man! Wolverine wants to kill the creature, but the Panther holds him back, thinking he can tame it. With one single, hard punch in Dragon Man’s face, he succeeds. At the same time, the super-apes are thinking about releasing a deadly virus and ignore their master’s commands. Rogue catches up on the Red Ghost and knocks him out. Scared of the X-Men’s various mutant powers, the Red Ghost agrees to work with them to find a way to stop Paine, as he dislikes the man too. They return to Paine, but he refuses to release Lorna, as he wants the X-Men to do more dirty jobs for them. A battle breaks loose, which eventually ends with the Red Ghost killing Paine by ripping his heart out of the guy’s chest! After T’Challa rescues Lorna out of her cage, the X-Men go after the Ghost, who disappeared again. He locates his apes, and laughs at their plan to release their virus and start a new “Ape Age.“ The X-Men and the Panther find them as well. Iceman finishes the job by freezing both the virus, the Ghosts and his apes up, and T’Challa takes the virus so his scientists can take a look at it. The X-Men depart, with Storm sharing a kiss with the Panther and deciding to take some time off and stay in Africa for a while.

Full Summary: 

Niganda, Africa...

Several local citizens are walking away together, in a large group. Another one notices them and asks what’s going on, suspecting it’s another hunt for traitors. A woman denies that, quoting a miracle has happened. A man states that the goddess has returned and points at a girl running in front of the line, whom the goddess blessed.

The man wants to know who this Goddess is the others are talking about. They explain they are talking about Ororo, the Storm of the Desert! The man wonders what’s wrong with the others, thinking they don’t own a T.V. He recognized that woman as a member of the American X-Men. This statement upsets the crowd, thinking the man doesn’t believe in their Goddess and start throwing sticks and stones at him!


As they walk through a large hallway, Iceman still can’t believe that psychopath, Dr. Paine (like that’s his real name) is playing with them like this. They are the X-Men and Bobby wants to know why they are doing the guy’s dirty work. Havok explains that, with Paine mimicking their powers, there was no chance that they could free Polaris before she was poisoned by the venom. Bobby defends that he’s Iceman. He could have frozen that stuff solid before it dripped into her veins. Alex asks Bobby what he would do if he was wrong and his plan didn’t work, or what if Paine would have been prepared for it? Bobby remains silent.

Gambit hopes this isn’t going to turn devolve into one of those “who cares more“ arguments, because he hates those. Both Storm and Rogue agree with Remy, with Rogue suggesting that she’s going to check the upper floors. Wolverine tells Bobby it could be worse, joking that at least they are gunning for a bad guy. Bobby thinks that’s another thing, wanting to know how they are supposed to find the Red Ghost.

Suddenly, they pass a wall and hear a voice calling out to Mickhlo and Peotor. It’s the Red Ghost! He shifts out of his ghost form and the X-Men believe they have found their villain. Red Ghost panics and changes back into his ghost form, disappearing from sight.

Gambit wants to know what they are going to do now. Bobby thinks that’s easy and suggests he’ll use his ice powers to make the guy appear again. Wolverine tries to warn Bobby not to do that, but the warning comes too late. Bobby shows off with his powers, telling his teammates to now check for smoke coming out of Red Ghost’s mouth or footprints in the frost or something. Logan calls Bobby an idiot, shouting that he can’t smell anything with this cold temperature.

Havok wants to know if the Red Ghost turns invisible or intangible. He wants to know if they are just not seeing him, or if he simply walked through a wall. Bobby jokes that the Ghost is so old school, their school doesn’t even have files on him. Wolverine runs off, telling the others they can stare into space waiting for the Ghost to exhale, but he’s going to look elsewhere. Havok asks Logan to wait, as they shall follow. That’s fine by Logan, but warns to keep Iceman away from him, as they need to get things done. Logan feels that maybe they need Xavier back, joking that this team seems to be going backwards.

Suddenly, battle noises can be heard and they decide to go check them out. The X-Men stumble into a large room, where they find the Black Panther fighting Dragon Man! Wolverine asks T’Challa if he needs any help but, even though he gets kicked to the other side of the room, the Panther claims he’s got everything under control. But he does tell the X-Men they could take out the security camera that’s hanging on the wall.

Dragon Man throws some fire at the Panther, which he manages to dodge, but the flames do destroy the camera. As the flames quickly spread, the Panther thinks a fire extinguisher might be a good idea. Wolverine has already got that covered, and destroyed a water pipe above them.

As the water continues to put out the flames, Logan gets another idea. He jumps off and grabs Dragon Man’s tail, sticks his claws through the slippery thing and starts throwing him around. Logan hits Dragon Man against a wall, knocking him down. He climbs on his back and wants to kill the creature, but the Panther doesn’t think that’s necessary suspecting he can tame him. An angry Logan can understand that the Panther is the “Lord of the jungle“ and all that, but he knows that this poor beast had every agreeable aspect bred out of him through who knows how much genetic altering.

Suddenly, Dragon Man gets up again and grabs Logan by his throat, throwing him off his back. He stands up and grabs the Panther with his tail, who in return slams the Dragon in his face and releasing himself again. This punch causes Dragon Man to withdraw, which Logan can’t understand. T’Challa claims that it’s important not to over think things.

Elsewhere at the base...

Paine’s failed monkey, together with Mickhlo and Peotor, are looking at a contained virus, stocked in a stasis field, which contains a dangerous virus. Mickhlo is certain that it shall work, but the others not so much, as they can’t read the inscriptions on the tube. Suddenly, the Red Ghost commands to all of his ape soldiers to report back to him immediately. They recognize the voice, but Mickhlo suggests they ignore him. He thinks that, the sooner they can figure out how to release the virus, they’ll also be done with the Ghost. Then they’ll take this country like the Ghost planned to do, but without his fascist supervision!

In another room, the Red Ghost faces through some walls wondering where his apes are. He hopes for them they better are not ignoring his psychic summons, or there will be reeducation lessons for all of them. Rogue taps on Red Ghost’s back, causing him to be surprised and solid. She quickly slams the Ghost down, apologizing for it, but it had to be done before he turned back into his ghost form. A few moments later, the Ghost wakes up for him and notices the X-Men holding him hostage, who start telling him what this is all about.

Havok explains to him that, if he so much as thinks about dropping through the floor, he will blast him the second he starts to fade. He will scatter his atoms so he will never reassemble. With the silent look, Alex can figure Red Ghost understood what he was saying. Havok continues to say that, considering Paine is blackmailing them to kill the Ghost, he doesn’t think he’ll have any problems of helping them to find a way to defeat the guy. Taking a look at Wolverine’s adamantium claws and getting scared, Red Ghost agrees. Storm asks Wolverine where T’Challa went. Logan mentions that T’Challa is housebreaking a pet and had promised Logan he would catch up later.

A few minutes later...

Paine and his monkey finally have managed to bring the X-Men up onto his viewing screens again, as he had lost track of them earlier. The X-Men angrily rush into the room, with Havok ordering that, now they’ve got the Red Ghost, it’s time for Paine to release Lorna. Paine notices Havok holding his hands close to the Red Ghost’s head and tells him to finish the job and kill the man.

Alex warns Paine not to play. They’ve done their part of the deal, now it’s time for him to do the same. Paine wants to know what his leverage is to guarantee a clean exit. He’s confident that the X-Men can’t beat him, but still wants to hear a confirmation. Alex releases the Red Ghost, and all of the X-Men prepare for a battle. He warns Paine that he’s got till the count of five to release Lorna, and starts countdown.

Paine doesn’t know what the X-Men are doing, and reminds them he won’t hesitate to kill Polaris. Storm is certain of that, but smilingly responds that that would also mean they could kill Paine. Taking a closer look to the various powers the X-Men all have, Paine is confident that killing isn’t like them. Paine unleashes the power of Havok he earlier absorbed and fires it at Red Ghost, but he makes himself invisible again, laughing at the lousy battle technique of Paine. Rogue jumps at Paine in an attempt to knock him down, but Paine notices and quickly ices her up! While Gambit goes to tend to her, Storm hits Paine with her lightning bolts! Paine wants to know how Storm can do that inside a building.

Gambit charges up a playcard, and the heat coming from it manages to defrost Rogue. Rogue’s okay, but wants to make Paine pay for what he did to her. Havok and Paine use their similar powers at them but, just like with his brother, Cyclops, they can’t hurt each other. Paine reveals a detonator, smiling that Havok’s teammate Polaris can get hurt!

Behind the cage, Iceman and Red Ghost have made it to the control panels of it. Bobby, threatening the Ghost with his powers, tells him to override the system. The Red Ghost asks for a minute, claiming he has never seen such a mechanism before. Bobby doesn’t believe that, as he thought the Ghost was a scientific genius. Red Ghost confirms he’s the finest of the Soviet minds. But they have not been able to afford to keep up with the capitalist advances in the past decade. This is why he had to outsource ape-development and production.

Iceman refuses to waste any more time and wants to freeze the panel, but on that moment Paine strikes him again with Havok’s powers. Iceman has no choice but to turn his attention towards the battle. On that very moment, the Black Panther enters, riding on Dragon Man’s back! As Dragon Man throws his flames into the battle, Storm whispers that T’Challa always knew how to make an entrance.

Paine shouts at the Panther to stop this right now, or else he will shut him down! Not intimidated, Dragon Man snaps Paine into his arm. Paine snikts out the bone claws he absorbed from Wolverine and, though he hates to damage his product, he doesn’t think he’s got much choice here. Wolverine notices and quickly destroys Paine’s claws using his own adamantium ones.

The Panther runs towards the Ghost asking what the problem is, but he doesn’t have the time, thinking T’Challa is too stupid to understand. T’Challa walks over to the control panels and, with one touch on a button, Polaris is released and falls right into Havok’s arms. Red Ghost wants to know how the Panther knew how to do that, but he jokes that he doesn’t have time to explain it.

Paine continues to attack the X-Men and Dragon Man, not knowing how they can be so stupid as to confront him directly. He grabs Wolverine by his throat, and mentions that he had hoped to get a few more odd jobs out of them all, but now he guesses it’s time to kill them. He concentrates Havok’s solar energy on Wolverine, making him completely aglow and then Paine throws him at the back of the room. Storm wonders if Logan can heal from so much damage.

Paine starts floating into the air. He thinks that this makes for interesting career options. He wonders if he should continue to be a “mad scientist“ for hire, or strike out on his own as an “above-the-tile“ super-villain. He has always been more comfortable to stick in the background, but maybe now is the time to think about it differently.

Suddenly, he gets shot in the back! Red Ghost rips out Paine’s heart, and mentions that the super-heroes are too soft to finish the job, but he has no patience for conniving capitalists like Paine. He phases through the ground, wondering where his apes are. Havok wonders how the Ghost could do such a horrible thing, but the Panther remarks that he saved him the trouble.

Havok wants to know if the Panther would have killed Paine if the Red Ghost hadn’t. The Panther confirms it was an option. Alex asks T’Challa if he’s judge, jury and executioner, but T’Challa thinks it’s his right as King of Wakanda. Gambit warns that the bad guy is getting away. Havok agrees that they should go after him, thinking that maybe the Red Ghost can get a little pre process. T’Challa is all for it, as long as the X-Men don’t lock the Ghost up in one of those prisons that their super-villains seem to keep breaking out of every week.

As they run into action, Havok asks T’Challa if that’s how they work out their problems here in Wakanda, by simply killing people. T’Challa denies that, thinking the state of Texas takes that approach. He explains that the Wakandan justice system is older than the English Parliament. He’s just saying, realistically, what the X-Men do with a super-powered murdering psychopath. As they fly ahead, Rogue mentions to Storm that the Panther seems to be a little arrogant. Storm agrees. Rogue jokes that he’s kind of hot, too. Storm smiles that one might say that.

Meanwhile outside of the building, a crowd is gathering and looks at the super-apes gathering on the roof. The apes think that the humans are stupid and are really asking for it. Peotor warns not to just throw down the virus. He thinks they need to release it in the upper atmosphere for better distribution. The others shout that they don’t have any pockets to store the virus in, so Peotor better shuts up. But Peotor thinks that tossing it down will make the virus look localized and would take too long for it to start killing.

Red Ghost emerges through the roof, angrily demanding to know what the apes think they are doing. He notices the apes holding the virus but doesn’t know what it is. They claim it’s none of the Ghost’s business. He becomes angry at that remark. He shouts that whatever conditioning Paine did is clearly worthless. He thinks they are the worst evolved super-apes he ever worked with. Mickhlo shouts that the circus act is over and that the “Ape Age“ is about to begin! Red Ghost laughs, making the apes only angrier. He warns the apes to stop acting like fools and to go back to work. That’s enough for the apes, and Mickhlo throws the virus down, which below almost hits a woman.

Storm quickly acts and uses her winds to keep the virus airborne. The crowd becomes enthusiastic and shouts her name. Logan jokes about it, but Rogue thinks that, if those folks knew what just happened, they’d be losing it. Iceman uses his powers to freeze the apes up. T’Challa asks Bobby if he would mind encasing the virus tube to keep it secure until his scientists have taken a look on it. Havok doesn’t have an argument with it, which the Panther appreciates. Wolverine jokes that, now that everyone has kissed and made up, they better get that virus out of there.

Once they are down, the Panther wants to know why the X-Men have to leave so soon, as they should take some time to enjoy his beautiful land. Storm agrees, mentioning she’ll stay for a little while. Wolverine asks Ororo if she’s certain about this. Storm is, because now that she’s back in Africa she doesn’t want to leave. T’Challa thinks that’s great, getting eager to prepare some things.

Storm holds T’Challa, correcting that she won’t stay there in Wakanda, and not with him. She needs some time alone to reconcile all that she has become: a woman, a goddess, an X-Man, and herself. Logan understands and Ororo thanks him for that. He takes off, ready to inform the others about this.

The Panther takes off his mask, and Ororo has one last thing to say to T’Challa: their paths shall cross again. Storm and the Black Panther share a goodbye kiss, and Storm flies away.

Back inside the base, Paine’s monkey, Cuddle-Face, screeches that things aren’t over yet.

Characters Involved: 

Black Panther

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

Storm (all X.S.E.)

Red Ghost

Mickhlo & Peotor (Red Ghost's super-apes)

Dragon Man

Dr. Erich Paine

Cuddle-Face (Paine's advanced monkey)

several African citizens (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

This issue concludes from X-Men (2nd series) #176.

Storm’s further adventures in Africa can be found in Storm (2nd series) #1-6.

Tough he doesn’t get named, the dragon-like creature the X-Men and the Panther battle actually is Dragon Man, who first appeared in Fantastic Four (1st series) #35.

Once again, Gambit’s pants are often incorrectly colored as green instead of the usual black. And in one panel of this issue, Bobby Drake’s codename is incorrectly spelled as “Ice Man.“

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