Episode #15 - Panther's Prey
Original Airdate - August 28th, 2009
Iron Man is tracking an international thief named Moses Magnum right to AIM’s secret headquarters, but the Black Panther is after Magnum as well. Magnum stole something that belongs to the Panther, and the Panther aims to get it back, even if he has to go through Iron Man to do it. Iron Man has to choose between helping Panther or taking down AIM, but for Panther there’s no choice at all. Because the Black Panther has learned Iron Man’s secret identity and if Iron Man interferes, he’ll tell the whole world.

Story Editor Christopher Yost
Written By Cyril Tysz
Directed By Stephane Juffe and Phillipe Guyenne
Review by Arsenal

Memo to A.I.M. henchman:

The word from above is we’ve been having trouble with superheroes lately, Iron Man and now this Black Panther guy. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to review our superhero protocol.

When firing a lethal weapon at a superhero, remember to aim at their feet, preferably several feet behind them. We wouldn’t want to make them look bad by actually hitting them. I mean, we’re just henchman. Who are we to hit Iron Man?

Also, you should only attack them one at a time. We wouldn’t want to gang up on them. We’re a group of international evil scientists, not bullies.

Remember to stand in groups, so each blow they land can dispatch entire groups of us. That will make the fights less complicated and easier for the eye to follow.

If you follow these simple rules, I’m sure we’ll dispatch these heroes in no time. Or lose, again. One of the two.

OK, got that out of my system. Now, let’s talk about the episode.

Superhero team-ups are tricky. Fans want to see them, but they come with a lot of baggage.

You need to introduce a new superhero, make them look good but not have them overshadow your lead. You’ll also need to introduce a villainous plot (and maybe some villains.) That’s a lot of ground to cover in 22 minutes. It’s very difficult to do well.

“Panther’s Prey” does a decent job of introducing T’Challa, the Black Panther. The creators draw parallels between him—both lost their father, both are forced to take on new responsibilities and both hate to depend on others.

The creators also take the interesting step of making T’Challa almost entirely unlikable. It does make Tony seem more likable by comparison, but it’s a risky thing to make a hero such a jerkwad.

Once again, the plot’s a trifle. Iron Man and Black Panther have the standard team-up: They meet, mistake each other for villains, fight, come to an understanding and leave with a begrudging mistake. Their dual mission is to take the macguffin rock (called vibranium) back from A.I.M. and international weapons dealer Moses Malone.

With no original plot in sight, the focus is once again on the characters, and Black Panther is portrayed as an angry, condescending ruler. (The writers give a legitimate reason for his anger.) It’s fine but hardly captivating. Tony has no great moments either to raise “Panther’s Prey” above mediocre.

And that is the episode in short: good enough, but forgettable.

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