Jungle Action #23 (Sept. 1976)
Cover art by John Byrne and Dan Adkins.
|First appearance||Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Alter ego||Shuri, formerly T'Challa|
|Team affiliations||Fantastic Four
|Notable aliases||Luke Charles, Black Leopard (alternate translation of his Wakandan title), His Majesty The King of Wakanda|
|Abilities||Superhumanly acute senses
The peak of human physical capabilities
Genius level intellect
Skilled combatant/acrobat/gymnast and hunter/tracker
Vibranium uniform, boots and equipment
Retractable anti-metal claws
The Black Panther (T'Challa) is a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe. Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and penciller-co-plotter Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966). He is the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, debuting several years before such early African-American superheroes as the Falcon, Luke Cage, Tyroc, Black Lightning or John Stewart.
The Black Panther's name predates the October 1966 founding of the Black Panther Party, though not the black panther logo of the party's predecessor, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, nor the segregated World War II Black Panthers Tank Battalion. He is not the first Black hero in mainstream comic books; that distinction is split between Waku, Prince of the Bantu, who starred in his own feature in the omnibus series Jungle Tales, from Marvel's 1950s predecessor, Atlas Comics, and the Dell Comics Western character Lobo, the first Black man to star in his own comic book. Previous non-caricatured Black supporting characters in comics include Daily Bugle managing editor Joe Robertson in The Amazing Spider-Man, and U.S. Army infantry private Gabriel Jones of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.
Following his debut in Fantastic Four #52-53 (July-Aug. 1966) and subsequent guest appearance in Fantastic Four Annual #5 (1967) and with Captain America in Tales of Suspense #97-99 (Jan.-March 1968), the Black Panther sojourned from the fictional African nation of Wakanda to New York City, New York to join the titular American superhero team in The Avengers #52 (May 1968), appearing in that comic for the next few years. During his time with the Avengers, he made solo guest-appearances in three issues of Daredevil, and fought Doctor Doom in Astonishing Tales #6-7 (June & Aug. 1971), in that supervillain's short-lived starring feature. He later returned in a guest-appearance capacity in Fantastic Four #119 (Feb. 1972) during which he briefly tried the name Black Leopard to avoid connotations invoking the Black-militant political party the Black Panthers. He received his first starring feature with Jungle Action #5 (July 1973), a reprint of the Panther-centric story in the superhero-team comic The Avengers #62 (March 1969). A new series began running the following issue, written by Don McGregor, with art by pencilers Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, and Billy Graham, and which gave inkers Klaus Janson and Bob McLeod some of their first professional exposure. The critically acclaimed series ran in Jungle Action #6-24 (Sept. 1973 - Nov. 1976).
One now-common innovation McGregor pioneered was that of the self-contained, multi-issue story arc. The first, "Panther's Rage", ran through the first 13 issues, initially as 13- to 15-page stories. Starting with Jungle Action #14, they were expanded to 18- to 19-page stories; there was additionally a 17-page epilogue. Two decades later, writer Christopher Priest's 1998 series The Black Panther utilized Erik Killmonger, Venomm, and other characters introduced in this arc.
Critic Jason Sacks has called the arc "Marvel's first graphic novel":
"[T]here were real character arcs in Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four [comics] over time. But ... 'Panther's Rage' is the first comic that was created from start to finish as a complete novel. Running in two years' issues of Jungle Action (#s 6 through 18), 'Panther's Rage' is a 200-page novel that journeys to the heart of the African nation of Wakanda, a nation ravaged by a revolution against its king, T'Challa, the Black Panther".
The second and final arc, "Panther vs. the Klan", ran as mostly 17-page stories in Jungle Action #19-24 (Jan.-Nov. 1976), except for issue #23, a reprint of Daredevil #69 (Oct. 1970), in which the Black Panther guest-starred. The subject matter of the Ku Klux Klan was considered controversial in the Marvel offices at the time, creating difficulties for the creative team. The arc ended mid-story and Jungle Action folded, with Jack Kirby — newly returned to Marvel after having decamped to rival DC Comics for a time — immediately writing and drawing the shorter-lived Black Panther series, starting January 1977.
Writer-artist Dwayne McDuffie said of the Jungle Action "Black Panther" series:
"This overlooked and underrated classic is arguably the most tightly written multi-part superhero epic ever. If you can get your hands on it (and where's that trade paperback collection, Marvel?), sit down and read the whole thing. It's damn-near flawless, every issue, every scene, a functional, necessary part of the whole. Okay, now go back and read any individual issue. You'll find seamlessly integrated words and pictures; clearly introduced characters and situations; a concise (sometimes even transparent) recap; beautifully developed character relationships; at least one cool new villain; a stunning action set piece to test our hero's skills and resolve; and a story that is always moving forward towards a definite and satisfying conclusion. That's what we should all be delivering, every single month. Don [McGregor] and company did it in only 17 story pages per issue."
The four-issue miniseries Black Panther, appeared in 1988, written by Peter B. Gillis and penciled by Denys Cowan. McGregor revisited his Panther saga with Gene Colan in "Panther's Quest", published as 25 eight-page installments within the bi-weekly anthology series Marvel Comics Presents (issues #13-37, Feb.-Dec. 1989). He later teamed with artist Dwayne Turner in the square-bound miniseries Panther's Prey (Sept. 1990 - March 1991).
Writer Christopher Priest's and penciller Mark Texeira's 1998 series The Black Panther vol. 3 utilized Erik Killmonger, Venomm, and other characters introduced in "Panther's Rage", together with new characters such as State Department attorney Everett Ross, the Black Panther's adopted brother, Hunter, and Panther's protégé, Queen Divine Justice. The Priest-Texeira series, which was under the Marvel Knights imprint in its first year, earned critical plaudits, but sales of the comic were never high. Priest said the creation of character Ross contributed heavily to his decision to write the series. "I realized I could use Ross to bridge the gap between the African culture that the Black Panther mythos is steeped in and the predominantly white readership that Marvel sells to," adding that in his opinion, the Black Panther had been misused in the years after his creation.
The last 13 issues (#50-62) saw the main character replaced by an African American New York City police officer named Kasper Cole, with T'Challa relegated to a supporting character. This Black Panther, who became the White Tiger, was placed in the series The Crew, running concurrently with the final few Black Panther issues. The Crew was canceled with issue #7.
In 2005, Marvel began publishing the ongoing series Black Panther vol. 4, initially written by filmmaker Reginald Hudlin (through issue #38) and penciled by John Romita, Jr. (through #6). Hudlin said he wanted to add "street cred" to the title, although he noted that the book is not necessarily or primarily geared toward an African-American readership. As influences for his characterization of the character, Hudlin has cited comic character Batman, film director Spike Lee, and music artist Sean Combs. This volume ran 41 issues (April 2005 - Nov. 2008).
A new Black Panther title launched in February 2009, with Hudlin scripting, which introduced a successor Black Panther,  T'challa's sister. Hudlin co-wrote issue #7 with Jonathan Maberry, who then become the new writer, joined by artist Will Conrad.
The Black Panther is the ceremonial title given to the chief of the Panther Tribe of the African nation of Wakanda. In addition to ruling the country, he is also chief of its various tribes (collectively referred to as the Wakandas). The Panther uniform is a symbol of office (head of state) and is used even during diplomatic missions.
The Black Panther is entitled to the use of a heart-shaped herb that grants the person who consumes it enhanced strength, agility, and perception. The present-day bearer of the Black Panther mantle is T'Challa, who has had a lengthy career as a superhero, including a longstanding membership in the Avengers. For a brief time upon joining the superhero team the Avengers, the Black Panther wore a cowled half-mask, similar to that of Batman. In stories published in the 2000s, it came to light that the Panther originally joined the Avengers with the intention of spying on them. This drove a temporary wedge between T'Challa and his teammates.
T'Challa is the son of T'Chaka, who was the Black Panther before him. In the distant past, a massive meteorite made of the (fictional) vibration-absorbing mineral vibranium crashed in Wakanda, and was unearthed. Knowing that others would attempt to manipulate and dominate Wakanda for this rare and valuable resource, T'Chaka concealed his country from the outside world. He would sell off minute amounts of the valuable vibranium while surreptitiously sending the country's best scholars to study abroad, consequently turning Wakanda into one of the world's most technologically advanced nations. Eventually, however, the explorer Ulysses Klaw found his way to Wakanda to covertly create a vibranium-powered, sound-based weapon. When exposed, Klaw killed T'Chaka and other Wakandans, only to see his "sound blaster" turned on him by a grieving T'Challa, then barely a teenager. Klaw's right hand was destroyed, and he and his men fled.
During his youth, T'Challa also met and fell in love with apparent orphaned child Ororo Munroe, who would grow up to become the X-Men member Storm; the two broke up over T'Challa's need to avenge his father's death.
T'Challa earned the title and attributes of the Black Panther by defeating the various champions of the Wakandan tribes. One of his first acts was to disband and exile the Hatut Zeraze — the Wakandan secret police — and its leader, his adopted brother Hunter the White Wolf; later, to keep the peace, he picked dora milaje ("adored ones") from rival tribes to serve as his personal guard and ceremonial wives-in-training. He then studied abroad before returning to his kingship. T'Challa invited the American superhero team the Fantastic Four to Wakanda, then attacked and neutralized them individually in order to prove himself worthy as his people's defender and to test the team to see if it could be an effective ally against Klaw, who had become a being made of living sound. After the ruler made proper amends to the superhero team for the incident, they befriended and helped T'Challa, and he in turn aided the heroes against the supervillain the Psycho-Man.
T'Challa later joined the Avengers, beginning a long association with that superhero team. He first battled the Man-Ape while with the Avengers, and then met the American singer Monica Lynne, with whom he became romantically involved. He helped the Avengers defeat the second Sons of the Serpent, and then revealed his true identity on American television. He encountered Daredevil, and revealed to him that he had deduced Daredevil's secret identity.
The Panther eventually leaves his active Avengers membership to return to a Wakanda on the brink of civil war, bringing Lynne with him. After defeating would-be usurper Erik Killmonger and his minions, the Panther ventures to the American South to battle the Ku Klux Klan. He later gains possession of the mystical time-shifting artifacts known as King Solomon's Frogs. These produced an alternate version of T'Challa from a future 10 years hence, a merry, telepathic Panther with a terminal brain aneurysm, whom T'Challa placed in cryogenic stasis.
Later, while searching for and finding his mother, the Panther contends with South African authorities during Apartheid. T'Challa eventually proposes and becomes engaged to Monica Lynne, though the couple never married.
Years later, the Panther accepts a Washington, D.C. envoy, Everett K. Ross, and faces multiple threats to Wakanda's sovereignty. Ross assists him in many of these threats, often fighting side by side (or attempting to). In gratitude, the Panther often risks much for Ross in return. The first main threat to Wakandan soveriengty he and Ross encounter is 'Xcon' — an alliance of rogue intelligence agents — backs a coup led by the sorcerer Reverend Achebe. Afterward, Killmonger resurfaces with a plot to destroy Wakanda's economy. This forces T'Challa to nationalize foreign companies. Killmonger then defeats him in ritual combat, thus inheriting the role of Black Panther, but falls into a coma upon eating the heart-shaped herb — poisonous to anyone outside the royal bloodline, which had a hereditary immunity to its toxic effects. T'Challa preserves his rival's life rather than allowing him to die.
Later, T'Challa finds he has a brain aneurysm like his alternate future self, and succumbs to instability and hallucinations. After his mental state almost causes tribal warfare, the Panther hands power to his council and hides in New York City. There he mentors police officer Kasper Cole (who had adopted an abandoned Panther costume), an experience that gives T'Challa the strength to face his illness, reclaim his position, and return to active membership in the Avengers, whom he helps secure special United Nations status.
T'Challa then helps Ororo Munroe (alias Storm), with whom he had a brief romance during his teens, reunite with her surviving family members in Africa and the U.S. He shortly afterward proposes, and the two are married in a large Wakandan ceremony attended by many superheroes. However, he failed to reunite both Captain America and Iron Man because of their opposing views on the Superhuman Registration Act.
One of the couple's first tasks is to embark on a diplomatic tour, in which they visit the Inhumans, Doctor Doom, the President of the United States, and Namor, with only that last ending well. After the death of Bill Foster, the Black Panther and Storm side with Captain America's anti-registration forces. During the end battle between both sides, the Wakandan embassy in Manhattan is heavily damaged, though no actual Wakandans were hurt. After the confrontation, the Panther and Storm briefly fill in for vacationing Fantastic Four members Reed and Sue Richards before returning to Wakanda.
Upon returning to Wakanda, Black Panther and Storm face Erik Killmonger, defeating him with assistance from Monica Rambeau (a.k.a. Pulsar). Afterward, Wakanda fends off the alien shapeshifters the Skrulls, who had infiltrated as part of their "Secret Invasion" plan to conquer Earth. Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, attempts to recruit T'Challa for the Cabal, a secret council of supervillains masterminding. Attacked by the forces of fellow Cabal member Doctor Doom, T'Challa is left comatose. His sister Shuri is trained as the next Panther, with the mantle passing onto her officially after T'Challa awakens from his coma and attempts to recover from his injuries.
Following his defeat at the hands of Doom and the passing of the Panther mantle, T'Challa lost all of his enhanced attributes given to him by being the panther totem. Since this he has been working with his sorcerer, Zawavari, to accumulate a replacement.. He has since made a pact with another unknown Panther deity, returning his attributes to an even higher level as well as placing incantations on his body, making himself highly resistant to magic. This has all been done in preparation in an impending battle with Doctor Doom
The title "Black Panther" is a rank of office, chieftain of the Wakandan Panther Clan. As chieftain, the Panther is entitled to eat a special heart-shaped herb, as well as his mystical connection with the Wakandan Panther god, that grants him superhumanly acute senses and increases his strength, speed, stamina, and agility to the peak of human development. He has since lost this connection and forged a new one with another unknown Panther deity, granting him augment physical attributes as well as a resistance to magic. His senses are so powerful that he can pick up a prey's scent and memorize tens of thousands of individual ones. T'Challa is a rigorously trained gymnast and acrobat, proficient in various African martial arts as well as contemporary ones and fighting styles that belong to no known disciplines. He is a skilled hunter, tracker, strategist, and scientist — he has a Ph.D. degree in physics from Oxford University. Considered one of the eight smartest people on the planet, he is a genius in physics and advanced technology, and is a brilliant inventor.
As king of Wakanda, the Panther has access to a vast collection of magical artifacts, advanced Wakandan technological and military hardware, as well as the support of his nation's wide array of scientists, warriors, and mystics. The Wakandan military has been described as one of the most powerful on Earth. His attire is the sacred vibranium costume of the Wakandan Panther Cult.
In Volume 2, writer Christopher Priest expanded the Panther's day-to-day arsenal to include equipment such as an "energy dagger", a vibranium-weave suit, and a portable supercomputer, the "Kimoyo card." In Volume 3, writer Reginald Hudlin introduced such specialized equipment as "thrice-blessed armor" and "light armor" for specific tasks, and also outfitted him with the Ebony Blade, however the Ebony Blade was recently returned to the Black Knight by T'Challa's wife, Storm.
Journalist Joe Gross praised Christopher Priest for his characterization of the Black Panther, stating, that the writer "turned an underused icon into the locus of a complicated high adventure by taking the Black Panther to his logical conclusion. T'Challa (the title character) is the enigmatic ruler of a technologically advanced, slightly xenophobic African nation, so he acts like it". Gross applauded the title's "endless wit, sharp characterization, narrative sophistication and explosive splash panels".
Comics reviewer and journalist Mike Sangiacomo, however, criticized the narrative structure. "Christopher Priest's fractured writing is getting on my nerves. Like the Spider-Man comics, I want to like Black Panther, but Priest's deliberately jumbled approach to writing is simply silly. I know it's a style, but does he have to do it every issue?"
Reporter Bill Radford cited similar concerns when the title had just launched. "I appreciate the notion of seeing the Black Panther through the eyes of an Everyman, but the Panther is almost relegated to secondary status in his own book. And Ross' narration jumps around in time so much that I feel like his boss, who, in trying to get Ross to tell her what has happened, complains: 'This is like watching 'Pulp Fiction' in rewind. My head is exploding.'"
Publishers Weekly gave a negative review to the first arc, "Who Is The Black Panther?", a modern retelling of the character's origin, saying, "Hudlin's take is caught between a rock and a hard place. His over-the-top narrative is not likely to appeal to fans of the most recent version of the character, but it's too mired in obscure Marvel continuity to attract the more general reader. The plot manages to be convoluted without ever becoming absorbing".
Journalist Shawn Jeffords, citing the lack of appearances of the title character in the first issue, called the new series a "fairly unimpressive launch". Jeffords also said general-audience unfamiliarity was a hindrance. "He's never been a marquee character and to make him one will be tough".
Bronze Panther - Is the ruler of Wakanda and is named B'Nchalla. An amalgamation of the Bronze Tiger (DC) and the Black Panther (Marvel).
In the alternate universe of Earth X, T'Challa has been affected by the mutative event that drives the plot. Like most of humanity, he is mutated; in this case to become a humanoid black panther. He is entrusted with the Cosmic Cube by Captain America, who knows that T'Challa would be the only one to resist using it and to never give it back if asked. In fact, Captain America does ask for it back and T'Challa is forced to refuse.
An alternate version of Black Panther, called simply "Panther", is drafted onto the interdimensional superhero team the Exiles. The Panther is the son of T'Challa and Storm and named T'Chaka, after his grandfather. Originating from Earth-1119, he was ambushed by Klaw while examining some ruins. Caught in Klaw's blast, the Panther was plucked out of time and placed on the team. Unlike the stoic 616-Black Panther, The Panther is a wisecracking flirt. After his assumed death on Earth-1119, his sister took up the mantle of Black Panther.
T'Challa appears in the Marvel Mangaverse as a man with a pet panther. When summoning the spirits, T'Challa and his panther combine to become the Black Panther. He also became The Falcon. This Black Panther was romantically attracted to Tigra. T'Challa's sister, T'Chana, later reveals herself to be this universe's Dr. Doom.
A Black Panther was featured in the Marvel Knights 2099 one shots. A new Black Panther, K'Shamba, rose to fight and thwart the mounting invasions by the successor of Doom. While the victory over the new Doom appeared triumphant, the new Wakandan king was ultimately revealed to be a puppet of Doom.
Black Panther is, for the most part, one of the few uninfected superheroes in the alternate-universe series Marvel Zombies, where he is kept as a food supply for the Zombie Giant-Man. Despite having lost half of his right arm and his left foot, the Panther escapes – with the severed head of zombified superheroine the Wasp in tow – and joins forces with the mutant group the Acolytes. Decades later, T'Challa has married one of the Acolytes, Lisa Hendricks, and they have a son. The Panther is stabbed and critically wounded by an agent of an Acolyte splinter group, and the Wasp — now a willing ally after having lost her zombie hunger — zombifies the Panther in order to grant him continued existence. With the Wasp's help, he survives to the post-hunger stage himself and continues to lead his people, despite his status. Further internal betrayal lead the Black Panther and many of his allies to be tossed through the dimensions.
T'Challa, the younger son of King T'Chaka of Wakanda, is severely injured during the "Trial of the Panther" from which the protector of the nation is selected. His older brother M'Baku finds T'Challa bloodied and near death but derisively calls him a fool for attempting the trial. Later, M'Baku adds that he, not T'Challa, should have taken the trial. Angry that his father has decided to share Wakanda's technology in exchange for America's help in saving T'Challa’s life, M'Baku leaves the kingdom.
To save T'Challa, T'Chaka turns him over to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Weapon X program. Over a year later, a healthy T'Challa, in his full Black Panther garb, has enhanced speed, strength, night vision, and healing ability. Additionally, he can summon short, cat-like Adamantium claws from his knuckles by balling his hands into fists. Despite these enhancements, S.H.I.E.L.D. claims it was unable to repair his damaged vocal cords, rendering him mute. T'Chaka becomes outraged upon learning that S.H.I.E.L.D. now considers his son an asset of the U.S. and S.H.I.E.L.D. He subsequently contacts M'Baku a letter, claiming that M'Baku, not T'Challa, is the titular "favorite son", and He implores M'Baku to return.
Fury has Captain America train and mentor the Panther, who reveals his damaged throat. Captain America, sympathizing for the Panther's plight, encourages Fury to place the Panther in the superhero team the Ultimates. This turns out to be a ruse in which Captain America impersonates the Panther, allowing T'Challa to escape and return home to Wakanda.
After Ultimatum he joins The New Ultimates.