Previously, in Black Panther and the Crew #2
The ties between Ezra Keith and Wakanda, and how his time there influenced his decision to launch Harlem’s Crusade, become a bit clearer in “We Are the Streets, Part 3: Black Against the Empire.” He and Frank Roberts returned to the states in 1956, ready for revolution. Other countries were already way ahead of them (not just Wakanda) in utilizing super-powered activists to bring about change. They were ready to build such an army in Harlem.
Something drove Ezra to bring together a new crew in present day shortly before his death, but what? T’Challa arrives in Harlem after receiving a message from Ezra through a secure channel he shouldn’t have had access to use. Ezra didn’t provide details, but it was enough to send the king to investigate. Marla provides a new clue and a dose of old black woman sass; if King T’Challa can help The Avengers and the Fantastic Four, he can spare a little time to help the people of Harlem. He’s smart enough not to argue.
Her tip leads him and Storm to a building on 116th street, an expensive high rise of condos courting kale-eating millennials to “return Harlem to its glory days.” In short: good old gentrification. T’Challa soon realizes this presents a bigger problem than artisanal mayonnaise shops and smoothie bars. The building is built and funded by HYDRA.
As Storm rushes to warn Misty, a HYDRA agent firebombs Misty’s apartment. She’s uninjured, and so is the man who literally rises from the ashes: Luke Cage.
Well, this escalated far beyond where I thought it was going, but it makes sense. Ezra had to have stumbled onto something massive for it to cost him his life. And from the looks of a possible coverup (the surveillance footage from the time of his death is still missing), it appears HYDRA may have infiltrated the police. No wonder Ezra felt the need to bring in the big guns.
The atmosphere of this story is unlike anything I’m currently reading. Harlem feels like a breathing character within the narrative, and the rich history between Misty, Storm, T’Challa, and now Luke Cage, makes it even more compelling. It’s a shame the series was cancelled, but I’m thankful they’ll get to finish this story.
Black Panther and the Crew #3
"We Are the Streets, Part 3: Black Against the Empire"
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates | Penciler: Butch Guice with Mark Chater| Inker: Scott Hanna with Chater | Colorist: Dan Brown | Cover by: John Cassady and Dan Brown | Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino