Don McGregor's run on Jungle Action and Jack Kirby's Black Panther solo series are combined here to create one blockbuster collection of T'Challa's most classic tales.
"Panther's Rage" makes up the meat of McGregor's run. It's an introspective story arc that really puts the Black Panther through the ringer as he struggles to save his African home of Wakanda. The art by Rich Buckler and Billy Graham is awesome (especially Graham's stuff, which accounts for most of the issues), and Gil Kane's covers are knockouts. I could go on and on about how great this wordy and wonderful story arc is, but suffice to say that it's 70s purple prose Marvel at its best.
Then there's "Panther vs. the Klan," a bizarre and surreal fever dream where T'Challa ventures to the deep south of the USA and goes up against a sort-of-is sort-of-isn't KKK group. It's interesting to read and definitely a vital part of any BP collection, even if it's still the weakest part of this book.
Finally, Jack Kirby -- Black Panther's co-creator, who I'm sure was responsible for the lion's share of T'Challa's traits -- returns to the character to tell an amazing stream of adventure stories. Crisscrossing the globe, this Panther is like a super-powered predecessor to Indiana Jones... just minus all of the awkward cultural stereotypes that often accompany Jones's exploits.
Frankly, I can't rave enough about the quality of Kirby's BP work. Despite being 180 degrees away from McGregor's excellent arcs, the Kirby tales are compelling and captivating. In my humble opinion, it's Kirby at his madcap best. My only disappointment is that the Essential treatment strips away Mike Royer's killer colors. (Also, don't worry that it's only #1-10 of Kirby's Black Panther -- things fell apart during the last few issues and Kirby didn't even complete the series. #1-10 are the best issues he produced, so you're not missing anything.)
To make matters even more impressive, this Essential volume has extras in it, including process art and some letter cols. I've never read an Essential collection with goodies like that!! I mean, c'mon... ya gotta admit that's super-cool. Normally these b&w tomes just reprint the stories and that's it.
Anyway, I think you get the point. This collection rocks. And it's the only well-priced collection Marvel has ever produced of these Black Panther comics. Before this book, you either had to buy the expensive Marvel Masterworks version of McGregor's run or two high-end TPBs of Kirby's Panther series... OR work your butt off to dig up the backissues! So buy this Essential volume NOW and hopefully we'll get Essential Black Panther v2 in the near future.