Appearing in "Invasion"
Races and Species:
Synopsis for "Invasion"
Ross continues recapping the events of his meeting with King T'Challa to Nikki, who's starting to keep track of his story even though Ross still occasionally gets ahead of himself and is hung up on "the Devil's pants."
Ross fills in the events missing from last issue, starting with when he went to pick up T'Challa from the airport and finds him waiting with an 80 plus staff. Since his 2 seater Miata won't get the job done Ross phones his office inside the airport, desperately trying to both order some limos and clear traffic. Embarrassed by the disrespect of his Miata, he's also confused by the huge staff: the Black Panther usually visits the United States alone.
Adding to the tension is a Kymiko card call from Queen mother Ramonda that sends Zuri into a rage: back in Wakanda a man named Achebe has taken advantage of T'Challa's absence during the refugee crisis to seize power, using Wakandan sympathisers to sabotage the main defence grid. While Zuri hurls furniture around T'Challa rages in silence, having always had to keep his emotions in check. Ramonda shoots down his suggestion to return, believing it will only lead to more deaths in the struggle, urging him both to watch his back and to remember what his father taught him besides "all that warrior nonsense.": how to think.
Ross nervously introduces himself as the king's State Department attache, apologizing for the delay in transport. Stuck between the impassive T'Challa and the bellowing Zuri calling for blood in the streets, he suddenly realises they are feeling the same thing: anger. Despite this T'Challa remains perfectly collected, urging Zuri to remain patient and focused on the Tomorrow Fun scandal that brought them to the States, accepting transport in Ross' Miata, despite the aids protests. After all it would be an insult not to accept such kindness.
Ross ferries T'challa, Zuri and Okoya and Nakia of the Dora Malaje down the Van Wyck express way, offering to drop the client either at the rooms he took the liberty of reserving at the Plaza hotel or Avenger's Mansion. To his surprise T'Challa instead asks to be taken to Brooklyn, and not to just to begin work on the Tomorrow Fund investigation: the king and his entourage intend to stay in the New Lots housing project.
That night, after settling in, Ross takes the four to a nearby Chinese takeout for a massive order to feed the staff that's moved into the floors beneath them. The owner is incredulous and Zuri making the order isn't helping. Ross tries to smooth things over by smooth talking the owner in Cantonese, joking that the Wakandan party is "way out of town". Unfortunately the owner is Filipino and T'Challa speaks both Cantonese and his native Tagalog, clarifying the joke the now mortified Ross was making at their expense.
Adding to the troublesome night is the fact the restaurant doesn't accept credit cards and when the Dora Malajie produce the large sum of cash to cover the huge order they inadvertently attract the attention of Manuel Ramos and his gang. Ross needlessly steps in, trying to intimidate the gangster with his State Department ID. A grinning Ramos responds by biting the cover off and lifting Ross off the ground by his hair. Before Ross can receive the pummelling of a lifetime a shotgun blast is fired into the air: sardonic NYPD sergeant Francis Tork is on the scene. Ordering a cowed Ramos to "rob someone else" he initially assumes that Ross is a Long Island college boy trying to buy drugs from the dealing Ramos. Things only get worse when Ross realises Ramos has taken his ID and an amused Tork notes T'Challa and Zuri exiting with the take out and Zuri's enormous hunting spear.
Booking the group, Tork runs the diplomatic plates on the Panther's limo and releases them. Ross learns that Ramos hangs out in a strip bar with a mud wrestling pit and storms off to get his ID back. It goes about as well as you'd expect. Ramos tosses the ID into the mud pit and, when Ross refuses to play, Ross himself. Zuri lunges onto the scene determined to defend the honour of "he whom [his] liege has anointed" and begins to brawl with the two wrestlers who've been beating the tar out of Ross, stripping him to his undershirt and boxers. As the Panther and the Dora Malaje arrive on the scene to restore calm, Ross snaps and joins in the violence, later admitting to Nikki that he was responding to memories of Natalie McPhail, a girl in third grade who used to beat him up. Tork arrives yet again, this time with uniformed officers, and arrests all of them.
Ross convinces the Assistant District Attorney to release them on diplomatic immunity and the group return to New Lots, where the events of the first issue unfold. While the Black Panther continues to hunt down criminals, marking them with his energy daggers and coercing them to help track down Jamie Robins' murderer, Mephisto arrives at the apartment and installs himself in the living room on a throne of bones surrounded by fire. Ross, still missing his pants, sits awkwardly on the couch next to the demon. After some fidgeting and attempts at small talk, he lets slip about his pants being stolen. Mephisto uses his powers to conjure a fresh set of pants. Ross' initial delight wares off the second he realises what that means: by accepting the Devil's Pants he has inadvertently sold his soul.
Meanwhile, having recruited the city's underworld as an information network, the Panther breaks into the prison cell of Marion Vicar, the disgraced executive director of the Tomorrow Fund. T'challa demands the name of the man who corrupted Vicar, and when she belligerently refuses, has Okoyo beat and restrain her with a truncheon held across her throat. In reality T'Challa is simply here to confirm what he already suspects, and Vicar's surrendered name confirms it: the man behind the Tomorrow Fund scandal and the political upheaval in Wakanda is Achebe.
In the present Nikki asks who Achebe is. Ross slams his head on the table and mutters that "that's is where the fun starts..."
The extent to which T'Challa is aware of his enemies' plot will be revealed in the course of the series, but his language to Vicar during the interrogation ("Who cast a spell on you, Vicar?" "The name Vicar. The devil who engineered this game--") hints that he either knows or at least suspects of Mephisto's demonic connection to events.
Including Ramos from the previous issue, Panther has recruited six criminals to work as his informants.
According to Panther and co's arrest slates, the fight in the mud pit and Tork's arresting them takes place on September 16th, 1998, accounting for the MU's sliding timescale of course.
Ross's politically (in)sensitive pop culture references include expecting Buster Crabb to show up in T'Challa's entourage at the airport, referencing "Don't start none, won't be none" from Jim Brown's Static to Ramos, and finally asking Mephisto if he's ever appeared on Jerry Springer.
When Ross and Nikki are walking down a corridor, there's a real life photo of Ronald Reagan on the wall.
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