What do you get when you combine the biggest solo superhero film of 2018 and the first black President of the U.S.? Answer: A super-powered political parody poised to the rock the world of comics, A.K.A. Barack Panther #1.
Barack Panther #1 by Kelsey Shannon and Brian Denham fuses two of the most iconic black figures in pop culture of the last decade, and the incredible result is something you need to witness for yourself. The reasoning is as clear as a panther is black.
Step Into The Spotlight
On the heels of a country in social disarray and civic division, one man must rise beyond the mantle he once held and put on the mantle he was born to carry. That man is former president Barack Obama. That mantle is the Barack Panther. True to a political parody, the story follows Obama’s plunge into afro-forward superheroism, complete with epic fights, dastardly villains, and jaw-dropping moments.
Shannon and Denham truly do their homework for this book. They utilize and highlight aspects of Black Panther as well as Barack Obama. Without rich insight into both, this comic would not nearly come together so wonderfully. Small puns and attention to detail in a myriad of panels are delights to find and laugh about.
Though obviously Left-leaning material, Barack Panther #1 is never afraid to take noted jabs at disagreeable actions Obama took in office. Thus, Barack Panther achieves a pleasant level of social relevancy rarely seen and openly welcomed.
The Art is the Heart of the Panther
Kelsey Shannon and Brian Denham paint an astonishing world in the pages of Barack Panther #1. The vibrant, heavily saturated style chosen works perfectly for such a campy comic. The visuals never take a breath, and thus give the entire story a shot of adrenaline, adding vitality to every page.
I can only imagine Shannon must have dipped his pen in the richest hues of vibrancy and infused them into the page. Barack Panther #1 simply sings with playful, spirited color, and is just pure fun. These hues meshed with his thick brush strokes birth a riveting narrative that sucks the reader in and keeps them hooked.
The panel layout was masterfully varied. Nothing was monotonous. Every new format and splash page felt earned. Your eyes glide through the story, a testament to pristine pacing. The weakest aspect of the art is the character designs, though they are still fairly good.
Obama looks wonderfully like the real-life counterpart for most of the book. But, some panels have him a bit off-character. A few other models of real people were inaccurate as well, but given the breadth of an artist’s interpretation, these can be accepted. In short, given the excellence of the rest of the art, I simply feel the character designs stand to be tightened up more.
Writing As Sharp As Claws
The dialogue between every character feels purposeful and appropriate. Everything from playful banter to heartwarming encounters is handled beautifully. I could hear the former president himself saying most everything expressed.
Some lines seemed a bit out of place though. Certain characters talk randomly with “modern” slang in scenes that end up being jarring. Even Obama suffers this at one point.
With such an expertly sculpted story, there is no need to force any kind of connection with young readers. The true voice of each character used is more than enough to engage and grip audiences of all ages.
Standing at the vanguard of political parody, Barack Panther #1 is a comic you cannot miss. No matter your fandom, this book has something for you. And f.y.i., the comic reaches an entirely new level when you read it while listening to the Black Panther soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar.
Grab a copy online or at your local comic shop. And check out Antarctic Press for more cutting-edge comics coming out.