I sat down and read Black Panther #19. It was the most enjoyable reading experience of my lifetime. The main event was a confrontation between the Royal Couple and Dr. Doom, which included an iffy sequence where T'Challa ordered Storm to stand down and let him fight it while she was kicking Doom's butt for him. But that wasn't what I loved about this issue. What I loved was the aftermath of the battle -- Ororo and T'Challa's first fight as a married couple.
It was cute that they both started saying the same thing. T'Challa's rant about personal honor and his image as King made sense, I suppose, but I really couldn't get behind him there. Sure, he has to be commanding and strong as leader, but isn't she Queen? Shouldn't she be commanding and strong as well? And how was she second-guessing him by helping him out?
Ororo's reaction totally made up for it, the look on his face when she interrupted him was priceless. As was the line "I thought you wanted a Queen, not a mindless concubine" and the other line about how if he wanted "window dressing that could kick ass on command" (a bit more Americanized than Storm usually speaks, but hey, she's been in the country a while) he could have his bodyguards for henchmen -- but she was his partner. What others may find corny, but I especially liked, was the speech about marriage meaning that their lives were together, and that T'Challa's difficulties weren't just his own. His enemies were hers also, because they'd agreed to share their lives together. She wasn't there to take orders or to give them, but to make decisions with him, as wives and husbands are supposed to. She was never again going to stand by when she felt he needed help, no matter what his foolish pride had him saying, because no good wife would let her husband go into danger unaided like that.
I thought I loved Storm before this issue, but I had no idea I would be so overjoyed when she gave him the ultimatim. "Marriage for me is an equal partnership, T'Challa. If you don't want to be together on those terms, then we can not be together." That was.. That was beautiful.
The moment of silence, three panels of them sitting together, was perfectly timed. Then T'Challa answered, in a beautiful way.
"It's going to take some time, beloved, for me to get used to this idea, but I'll try." I particularly liked the panel angle on his face at this point.
"Don't worry," Ororo's smile was subtle but noticeable as she said this, "I'll be here to help you."
The art was wonderful, the writing was wonderful. I found myself taking back all the things I said about this pairing before. It could work out. It could be done with respect. So long as they kept to this promise of portraying an equal partnership in this book, they would have a fan in me! It was the best thing I had ever read...
...and then I woke up.
For what actually happened in Black Panther #19, see Loren and the Fortress Keeper.
I'm going to go hit something.