It would be fair to say from my previous writing that I have more than a passing interest in the contents of this issue. Kasper Cole is a pretty important if depressingly obscure character in Marvel. While it’s more and more ubiquitous nowadays to see characters like Miles Morales wearing a big name identity, Kasper Cole was one of the first major bi-racial characters to show up in superhero comics. While it was during a period of heavy re-tooling with the Black Panther writer of the time: Christopher Priest being pushed to essentially ditch T’Challa because of sales and introduce a new hipper Panther, and while editorial directives like that don’t tend to work well in execution: Priest ended up making the best of it and told a pretty unique story with Kasper essentially playing the Black Panther to get ahead in life, and then falling in with the culture of the Wakandas. However, after Priest transitioned him over to the White Tiger role and The Crew was to put it lightly mishandled by Marvel, it became unclear whether the character would ever show up again.
This issue does a good job of having to essentially pick and walk you through 13 of obscurity in order to reintroduce a character people may not have even read in a comic, let alone one they’d remember, and manages to insert a distinctive voice for a character that only ever got to be defined by one writer. Rembert Browne keeps it pretty kinetic with the issue picking up far after Kasper’s glory days as the Black Panther or even as the White Tiger. He’s still stuck at teh same dead end job, but now has even less than before, and even less of an excuse to be a Black Panther or White Tiger than he did before with his family having kicked him out. It’s also naturally caused him to become disillusioned with one of the few people who truly believed in him: T’Challa. One of the best parts of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run on Black Panther: the stripping away of the regality of T’Challa’s monarchy comes into play with Kasper wanting out from something that helped ruin his relationship with his family, turned his dreams aside, and also helped turn him into something of a has-been who. Browne’s take on Kasper.
That being said: this issue benefits immensely from Joe Bennett’s presence. As the man who had the most artistic influence on him as White Tiger during the length of The Crew, it helps to re-engage with the character, as well as provide an interesting marker of how much he’s grown in-between issues. Roberto Poggi’s inks also do a great job of distinguishing Bennett’s work from what he’s done over at Deathstroke, giving this issue its own particular feel. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors also provide a very fluid feel, especially with a character like White Tiger who besides the coat is stark white, something that really helps accentuate the hard-boiled P.I feel.
Overall though, while World of Wakanda seems to be ending for now, this issue like the others has been for my money a success. Bringing in voices outside of the traditional milieu of comics: poets and journalists has helped invest the book with not just a different pedigree, also a different tone compared to Marvel’s other books, and it’s sad to apparently see it go. While this was Rembert Browne’s first pass at Kasper Cole, I do hope he and Joe Bennett make a return trip sometime.
4 White Tigers out of 5