BLACK PANTHER #31-33 (2001): Seduction of the Innocent

Monica Lynn is being hunted by Malice, so T’Challa hires Dakota North to protect her. Malice starts killing people in New York so Black Panther puts on a trenchcoat disguise and tries to stop her, but ends up being (again) attacked by an angry “back to Africa” mob that misunderstands and hates him.

This leads to him being crucified by Malice on the cover of issue #32.

He’s actually naked on the inside of the book because Nakia is trying to force him to marry her–if he does that, she’ll stop killing people. Malice has the power of a Wakandan herb, which is how she’s been managing to urge mobs to attack T’Challa and control the NYPD, but Black Panther is immune. He fakes being under her control as part of a plan to stay close enough to her to stop her, but at that point his plan to have Dakota North protect Monica backfires–North believes T’Challa is indeed under the influence of Malice’s herbs, and interrupts the plan before she can be subdued.

In the end, though, T’Challa does a power move: He threatens to destory Malice’s village back in Africa unless she surrenders, and she backs down and runs away.

Meanwhile, Man-Ape is on the loose in Wakanda attacks Queen Divine Justice.

She actually holds her own against him pretty well…

…nd then appears to be his friend in the end!

It wasn’t until that last panel that I understood why this arc was called “Seduction of the Innocent.”

While this is going on: Nightshade raises Black Dragon, an old Iron Fist enemy, from the dead and has him possess Everett Ross, who then starts acting weird.

Also, Vibraxas is wandering around since the break-up of the Fantastic Force team. He’s looking for direction and ends up sleeping with a Dora Milaje without realizing it.

If you read this run when it was coming out every month and didn’t like it, try re-reading it as a collection. Priest’s style can feel disjointed and hard to follow. He’s an abstract writer and lets the reader fill in a lot of details for themself, and the story tends to be told in short bursts of 2-3 page sequences, rapidly chopped together. I can imagine it was hard to read with 30-day gaps between issues.