Episode #11 - Panther's Quest
Original Airdate - November 17th, 2010
The Prince of Wakanda has been stalking the Avengers for weeks, and now the Black Panther strikes! The Panther wants the Avengers help in taking back the throne of Wakanda from the vicious Man-Ape. The problem is, they have to go through the Wakandan army, HYDRA, and Klaw to do it.

Written by Paul Giacoppo
Directed by Sebastian Montes
Review by ShadowStar
Media by Marvel Animation Age

With this episode, we come one step closer to having all of the Avengers from the micro-episodes gathered together, plus there’s the re-introduction of Black Panther/T’Challa and the return of Man-Ape, Grim Reaper and Klaw. You know, given how much material this show takes on in each passing episode, it’s a wonder that the creative team haven’t succumbed to the temptation of neglecting character development altogether so they can focus solely on the action (which there is no shortage of here and in “Breakout Part 2”).

It was only four episodes ago that the team was formed and Panther’s already joined the ranks, so I’m starting to have concerns about how uncommon the gentle moments of character interaction between plot/action-driven developments seem to be. I’d rather the action didn’t drive the story all the time, and that we had more of an emphasis on the supporting cast (not that there are many who currently fall into that category…), because some of the Avengers, like Wasp, are coming across as toy soldiers who eat, sleep and breathe action. Even Teen Titans didn’t make such a slip-up, as the action would often play second fiddle to the journey of the particular team member spotlighted in each episode.

Black Panther is not exempt from the criticism I’ve outlined above. I liked how he was depicted as being skilled in technology in addition to being a competent fighter, and I think he'll fit in well on the team, but both here and in “The Man in the Ant Hill”, an opportunity was missed by not giving him any significant supporting cast characters in Wakanda; it would’ve made his plight feel that much more personal. I get that he’d be going it alone in his rebellion against Man-Ape if not for the Avengers, but my point still stands. T’Chaka was quickly killed off and that adviser to the king was window dressing at best. Of course, Black Panther is the only Wakandan who will appear on a regular basis, so my point is a bit moot as far as he’s concerned. The other Avengers do need more acquaintances to play off though.

Getting back on track, this is an episode that doesn’t fail to grasp the viewer’s attention from the word go, even if we don’t learn anything new about these characters (and the fight with the Wakandan empire takes place off-screen – that’s how crammed with content this episode was). The sub-plot about the Avengers taking on the Grim Reaper and Klaw ensured that the latter got his comeuppance and that the heroes weren’t standing idly by as Black Panther engaged Man-Ape in a somewhat cliché showdown. Who can complain about the Grim Reaper getting more screen time, anyway? He continued to be a badass here, calmly turning away from the scene of the devastation unfolding within the vibranium mine and making a steady retreat. The Reaper’s fallout with Klaw seemed more like conflict for the sake of it though; is everyone who crosses him going to suffer considerably? Nick Fury aged rapidly as a result of their clash (which was down to Baron Strucker, but still), Simon Williams was transformed into Wonder Man, and now Klaw has become a sound monster (and may or may not be dead).

The threat was more epic than in the last few episodes. Even when Man-Ape was down, the Avengers weren’t out of the woods yet. Things began to look hopeless when Klaw mutated into a form that made him thoroughly capable of further upsetting the balance of the vibranium mine. Another positive point that I want to bring up is the intriguing use of Captain America, who, as Ant-Man said, follows orders… even bad ones. Despite that, Cap was prepared to set his principles to one side out of respect for T’Challa, knowing what it’s like to lose someone close to him. Perhaps this should be taken as a hint that if he ever runs into the Red Skull again, he might put a desire for vengeance before whatever orders his teammates give him?

You know what's embarrassing? T'Challa was actually having trouble against the royal guard when he had singlehandedly given Giant Man a hard time in the opening battle. And what I don't understand is how Black Panther was able to counter everything that was thrown at him by the Avengers but couldn't absorb or repel the vibranium when fighting Man-Ape. It seems a bit silly that one of his greatest strengths (as his suit seems to be powered by the substance) is also his Achilles’ heel.

If Thor was in Asgard in this episode (Iron Man assumed he had "gone to fantasy land"), then we can assume that Loki hasn't made a move on it yet (must be waiting for Enchantress and the other villains to defeat the Avengers first). I didn’t miss Thor that much though. I mean, even Wasp was on fine form here with some good banter, such as when she told the Grim Reaper that he was on their list and that they’d take him early.

The epilogue at the Cube was an interesting way to end the episode - has Abomination been picking off anyone who's come near it in order to preserve the secrecy of the Leader's plans...? No doubt the Hulk is coming back, and with the Leader returning, we’ll be hearing more from Jeffrey Combs. Should be a very good episode.