‘Black Panther’ Animated Series Rocks: Are You Ready?

Call me a comic book — er, graphic novel — nerd.

On Saturday morning, instead of watching cartoons like a child, I previewed the very adult “Black Panther.” The animated series is set to premiere on BET soon, in conjunction with Marvel Knights Animations, and is the first of it’s kind for the channel.

The story centers around an African group called the Wakanda, who are not only technologically and scientifically advanced — they have the cure for cancer — they have a leader that’s like the Pope, the President and Superman all rolled into one. Enter the “Black Panther.” In the first season, the protagonist T’Challa must lead his country through a siege and avenge his father’s death … once he discovers the perpetrator. What’d I think?

I loved it. T’Challa, voiced my Kimora’s boo Djimon Hounsou, has this catchy theme song and Kerry Washington and Alfre Woodard also contribute their vocals for T’Challa’s sister and mother, respectively. And like any good comic, the writer Reginald Hudlin, weaved in other superheros including the X-Men and my favorite, Storm.

But what’s really interesting about the series is it’s incorporation of African history, including all of the European invaders from the Dutch to the French.

“When they gave me a chance to write the book .. a lot of ideas I didn’t think were controversial turned out to be controversial,” Hudlin said in a video posted on his personal website. “I always read the book as Wakanda was always an unconquered country, but then when I stated that explicitly in my rendition, they were like ‘That’s not true.’ And I was like ‘Dude, beat it!’ To me the whole point is why do they have this advanced technology? Because historical fact, like in Benin, they had metal alloys while people in Europe were living in caves. At one point, people in Africa have this cultural head start, what if that head start never stopped?”

Despite celebrating a very adult birthday late last year, I thoroughly enjoyed this mature animated series. Or at least, I was still an adult while watching it … curled up on the couch, eating cheerios.

ps. shout out to my co-worker Josh who helms MTV’s Splash blog for the suggestion. Your word is bond, son

pps. Jill Scott is the voice of Storm, how great is that? There WAS a reason for that snore-worthy “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” …

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