Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Black Panther Myth: Storm is the Reason for Black Panther Success.

The Myth

The popularity of Storm is what propelled Black Panther to success.  

The Facts

- Black Panther has had over 190 comics, Storm has had 26.
- During Storm's heydey in the 90's, she was not associated with Black Panther.
- Storm had nothing to do with Priest's run, which made T'challa a character capable of holding a long solo book.
- Storm, vol 2 used T'challa to boost its sales.
- The Marriage resulted in a one comic boost in sales only.
- The Marriage issue was the only time Storm ever increased BP sales. One issue.
- X-men: World's Apart used the Black Panther mythos.
- Not one time has there been a Black Panther story that spun out of the Storm mythos.
- The current rise of Black Panther's ability to sell came after the marriage and includes a solo book, multiple spin offs, a solo movie, and a cartoon. 
- Storm has used Black Panther for a boost in her sales, not the other way around. 

My first instinct is to attack this myth with snark. That is how ludicrous this position is... it likely shouldn't be taken very seriously and is obviously the work of a zealot. But you do see this opinion here and there but this is the first time it has been so... blunt and delusional about it.

But, facts trump snark (unless it's politics) so let's get down to business.

Storm's first solo series (Storm, vol 1) came out in 1996. It made it four issues. By that time, Black Panther had a 19 issue Jungle Action run (Jungle Action #6-24), a solo series Black Panther that was a 15 issue run that ran from 1977-1979 (vol 1, Kirby), a four issue mini series in 1988 (vol 2, Gillis), and another four issue mini series in 1990 (Panther's Prey).

So by the time Storm got her first solo series (or mini or anything), Black Panther had 42 comics he headlined, 19 of which had the name "Black Panther" in the title. It should also be noted he had another longer story in there as part of the "Marvel Comics Presents..." story line (Panthers Quest) that is about to be collected in trade format as well.

One point I will concede in this time period (the 90's) is that the very popular X-Men animated cartoon was in its heyday. Storm was a re-occuring character there and got a lot of eyeballs thanks to her easy to remember name, powers, and the fact she's black (the only one until Bishop came along). But, at the same time... she wasn't Wolverine, Cyclops, Xavier, Magneto, or even Jean. But she was an important part of the cast.

Unfortunately, her "popularity" peaked there and it had no bearing on her comics at all. And no bearing on Black Panther.The X-men brand was strong and she was an important part of that, but it never lead to any significant series of her own. During this time period, Black Panther was a dead-ish property, with no solo books in sight.

However, T'challa's rise back to prominence would happen with Black Panther, vol 3, in 1998 by Priest. Volume 3 lasted 62 issues spanning 1998-2003. People love to go "but it didn't sell!" It lasted 62 freaking issues... that is THREE TIMES LONGER THAN STORM'S ENTIRE PUBLICATION HISTORY! This rise had nothing to do with Storm whatsoever. She played a bit part in the book and that is it. Storm had zero solo issues during this time period despite being in two X-men movies at the time (as a back up character).

62 issues, no Storm help

In 2005, both Black Panther and Storm had their own solo series starting. Black Panther, vol 4, ended up lasting 41 issues from 2005-2008 before being relaunched. Ororo: Before the Storm lasted four. When Before the Storm #1 came out, it sold 26,000 issues. That same month, Black Panther #5 sold 37,000.

During this same period (2006), Storm, vol 2, was released. It was a story that, wait for it... CENTERED AROUND T'CHALLA! That is right, volume two used T'challa to bolster a Storm book as Storm, vol 2, #1 sold 32,800 issues.. a nearly 7,000 issue increase from her last book. It lasted six issues.

Black Panther, vol 4, #18 is one of the claim to fame moments for Storm fans who have this incorrect opinion. It was the "Marriage of the Century" between Storm and T'challa. This is "the moment" that "proves" that Storm was used to elevate Black Panther (despite all the prior evidence against that was already shown).

#18 jumped in sales to nearly 70,000 (up from 28,000). However, this was a one issue boost only. The numbers for #19 immediately dropped back down to the 28,000 range and stayed in that range until Hudlin started tying into Civil War and then Fantastic Four. Storm did NOT result in a sales increase for Black Panther... it was simply a one issue "event" type of comic that lead to speculators buying an abnormal amount. Despite Storm being in the book until the "Back to Africa" arc, it lead to no increase in sales whatsover. Hudlin had to use events to accomplish a sales increase.

No change in sales. 

In between Black Panther vol 4 and vol 5, Storm had another series, X-Men: World's Apart (2009) that, once again, used Black Panther and Wakanda and this time even the X-men name to sell. It opened at 31,000 before quickly dropping to 21,000 the second issue. It lasted four issues.

Black Panther, vol 5, was essentially a Shuri book with T'challa and Storm as guest stars. The reason for the sales boost had nothing to do with Storm (who was a regular since the marriage) but actually due to the book tying into Dark Reign, the go-to strategy for Hudlin to increase sales. Despite being a Shuri book, it still lasted 12 issues before being cancelled.

Black Panther moved to Hell's Kitchen for a doomed 18 issue run (yes, 18 issue run is considered doomed for T'challa). Storm guest stared during Kraven (#519-520) arc of the book... which resulted in not a single increased sell at all.

No change in sales

The marriage was then ended in 2012, during the Avengers vs X-Men event.

Since then, T'challa enjoyed being front and center to one of the most popular Avenger's story lines of all time (Hickman's run), which then transitioned into Black Panther vol 6, which is pushing 20 issues with no sign of stopping, along with numerous spin off books. Outside of the comics, he was an integrate hero in Captain America: Civil War which transitioned into his upcoming solo movie in February 2018 before moving on to being an integral part of Avengers: Infinity War. At the same time, he became a cast member on the Avengers Assemble cartoon and will soon anchor the cartoon  for a season.

None of these things involved Storm.

Storm, on the other hand, has been her typical "X-men" self... a supporting character in a team book. Her 2014 solo series failed, dropping under 20K in sales by the 4th issue and lasting only 11 issues, despite having a known, popular comic writer attached to it (something T'challa hasn't had since Priest). Storm appeared in X-Men: Apocalypse, only to barely have any lines at all.

Storm has begun appearing back into the Black Panther books once again starting with season two and she even appeared in Black Panther and the Crew. And there are rumor of a solo book appearing once again... with the Black Panther writer.

So, once again, history is repeating itself. Black Panther becomes a happening property and Storm comes along to ride the coat tails . Not the other way around.

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