There is a battle brewing in Black Panther #166. Subtitled Klaw Stands Supreme, the comic delves into some aspects of the backstory of Ulysses Klaw arch villain to Black Panther.
Klaw spends most of the book recounting his abusive childhood and apologizing to his sister Julia. Julia was lobotomized because as Klaw has stated many times in the book, she heard the voices, and no one believed him.
Bent on conquering Wakanda, home of the super rare and extremely important element vibranium, which Klaw desperately needs, Klaw will stop at nothing to get what he wants. By the end of the book, Klaw is telling his sister that he is now called a god, and to the casual reader, things are not looking good for Wakanda.
Black Panther #166 is not about Black Panther. In fact, he has no role in the comic, Ulysses Klaw is the star of this 27-page book.
The cover gives us a beautiful image of Black Panther and Klaw in an epic fight, but you can’t judge a book by the cover, and you shouldn’t when reading Black Panther #166. What looks like a brutal slugfest is really the set up for another coming battle.
Klaw is spending his time marshaling his forces as Wakanda is trying to get back on its feet. With the absence of the gods, there is an opening for Klaw in attacking Wakanda. But unlike other formulaic beginnings to comic series, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has provided us with the phycological reasons for why Klaw is the way he is. Having the whole story be one long stream of consciousness allows Klaw a justification for his brutality to a long-ago victimized sister. We as the reader see inside the mind of a madman.
To compliment the writing, artists Leonard Kirk, Marc Deering, and Laura Martin have created images of an average family where the children were abused, and despite the tough talk of Ulysses Klaw, we see him as a scared boy who couldn’t act to defend himself, and relied on his much stronger sister Julia.
We see a nice division between the reality of Klaw’s childhood to the actual events. Klaw in the present talks about how his sister Julia was too soft. But the images we see of Julia is a fiercely strong child who stood up for herself.
Writer Coates has creatively allowed us readers to see how a madman can twist the history of his life to justify the actions they are about to take. Watching Klaw vaporize rebels in the country of Anzania is awful to watch, but when you pair it to his dialogue, you can truly appreciate the horror he has committed, because you know what he is thinking as he is committing these atrocities. Klaw Stands Supreme is an accurate and foretelling subtitle to the series, as we watch him rise above everyone else, becoming a major force in Wakanda.
When the gods disappear what fills the void? In the case of Black Panther #166, the people of Wakanda will encounter an unstoppable force in the form of Ulysses Klaw who has adapted his approach to taking the beloved land of T’Challa. How T’Challa responds will be interesting, and I would hope for the rest of the series we will get a chance to peer inside the mind of Black Panther, much like we did inside of Klaw’s for Black Panther #166.
If you want to try to your hand at drawing Black Panther, follow the easy instructions in the picture below.