The Black Panther (T'Challa) is a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe who is the first modern Black superhero. Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and penciler-co-plotter Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Fantastic Four Vol. 1, #52 (July 1966). Although there have been numerous men who have used the Black Panther identity during the history of the Marvel Universe, this article refers solely to the modern-day Black Panther, also known by his birth name, T'Challa.
The Black Panther, whose name predates the use of the October 1966 founding of the Black Panther Party, 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 multitple-character omnibus series Jungle Tales, from Marvel's 1950s predecessor, Atlas Comics; and the Dell Comics Western character Lobo, the first Black and the first character of African descent 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.
The Black Panther's first starring series was in Jungle Action Vol. 2, #6-24 (Sept. 1973 - Nov. 1976), written by Don McGregor with art by pencilers Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, and Billy Graham. One now-common innovation it pioneered was that of the self-contained, multi-issue story arc.
McGregor's first arc, "Panther's Rage", ran from Jungle Action #6 (Sept. 1973) through #18 (Nov. 1975). A second arc, "Panther vs. the Klan", was truncated when the series was canceled with issue #24. Jungle Action #5 and #23 reprinted, respectively, The Avengers #62 (March 1969), which featured the Black Panther, and Daredevil #69 (Oct. 1970), in which the Panther guest-starred.
Immediately following the initial series was the much less well-received Black Panther, written and illustrated by Jack Kirby for 12 of its 15 issues (Jan. 1977 - March 1979), with a corresponding shift in tone from McGregor's lyrical naturalism to Kirby's trademark high adventure. A four-issue miniseries, also titled Black Panther, appeared in 1988, written by Peter B. Gillis and pencilled 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 omnibus series Marvel Comics Presents (issues #13-37, Feb.-Dec. 1989). He later teamed with artist Dwayne Turner in the squarebound miniseries Panther's Prey (Sept. 1990 - March 1991).
Writer Christopher Priest's 1998 series The Black Panther 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 protege, Queen Divine Justice. Priest and penciler Mark Texeira also revamped the Panther himself, playing up the manipulative side seen in the Panther's first appearance but largely abandoned afterward, and later contrasting their manipulative, control oriented Panther with an alternate future Panther that more closely resembled the happy-go-lucky swashbuckler of the Kirby series. The Priest-Texeira series The Black Panther, which was under the "Marvel Knights" imprint its first year, earned critical plaudits, but sales of the comic were never high.
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 background character. This Black Panther, now the White Tiger, was placed in the series The Crew, running concurrently with the final few Black Panther issues, but this was canceled with issue #7.
In February 2005, Marvel began publishing a new ongoing Black Panther series, written by filmmaker Reginald Hudlin and penciled by artist John Romita, Jr..
Early life and background
The Black Panther is the ceremonial title given to the chief of the Panther Tribe of the fictional 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 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 comprised of the sound-absorbing mineral vibranium crashed in Wakanda, and was unearthed a generation before the events of the present day. 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. T'Challa during his youth 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. To prove himself worthy as the defender of his people, T'Challa attacked the Fantastic Four and defeated them in individual combat before revealing his reasons.
After making up to the team with a sumptuous welcome, he persuaded the Fantastic Four to help him battle the returning Klaw, who had become a being made entirely of living sound. Later, T'Challa began a long association with the Avengers, and became romantically involved with the American singer Monica Lynne.
This article uses material from Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
All material is compiled from numerous sources and may not be accurate. Dynamic Forces, Inc and all of its subsidiaries cannot guarantee the validity of the content.