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Comics 411: Favorite Black Panther Comic Books

August 3, 2022 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Black Panther Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we discussed Essential Marvel Superhero Teams. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Mondo Von Wer: “Power Pack and the Future Foundation”

El Atomico: “Squadron Supreme!”

Prez Gar: “The Avengers, any incarnation. East Coast, West Coast, Mighty, New, Uncanny, even Great Lakes. (The only Avengers series I don’t have any issues from is Dark Avengers.)

And the original Guardians of the Galaxy. The ones from the year 3000. The only member anyone whose only seen the movies would probably recognize is Yondu, even though most of the others were in Guardians Vol 2. (No Vance Astro or Nikki.)”

Great stuff and thank you to everyone who commented last week! Too many great comments to list so go and check it out!

This week we discuss…

Favorite Black Panther Comic Books
After seeing that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer, I got to thinking about the long and storied career of T’Challa. 

While Black Panther’s star has shined brightest thanks to the cinematic universe, he’s lacking true classic tales to remember but more recently in years, he’s gained more and more momentum. Black Panther was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, making his first appearance in Fantastic Four #52. We also got our first look at his arch-nemesis…Klaw!

A word about Black Panther’s rogue gallery. Like Wonder Woman’s, his isn’t filled with memorable villains. Can you name 5? This too is something I think is going to change in the future. While we’ve seen some greatness in the character, his potential is still unrealized.

The Black Panther journeyed from the fictional African nation of Wakanda to New York City, New York to join the Avengers in The Avengers #52 and he received his first starring feature with Jungle Action #5. His first notable storyline followed starting in Jungle Action #6 and “Panther’s Rage”. What made this worth looking at? The epic nature of the story and we get to meet T’Challa’s foe, Eric Killmonger.

Staying with Jungle Action and issues #19-22 and Marvel Premiere #51-53, we got the controversial “Black Panther vs. The Klan”. Looking back at it in relation to what’s going on today, the Jungle Action stories have aged well and writer-editor Dwayne McDuffie said of the “Black Panther” feature:

“This overlooked and underrated classic is arguably the most tightly written multi-part superhero epic ever. If you can get your hands on it … 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.”

Unfortunately, low sales took out Jungle Action and Black Panther made sporadic appearances in other books and miniseries.

Then we come to writer Christopher Priest’s and penciller Mark Texeira’s 1998 series The Black Panther, Volume 3. Priest immediately jumped into things and made Black Panther not only feel important but relevant. From his initial “The Client” that introduced Everett K. Ross to his “Enemy of the State” storyline in Black Panther #6-12 threw T’Challa into the fire when he responds to the involvement of the US government in actions against Wakanda and the Avengers have to step in. Priest put his own stamp on the Black Panther/Killmonger dynamic in Black Panther #16-20 “Killmonger’s Rage”.

It was Black Panther #26-29 “Sturm und Drang” that gave us a deeper and wider appreciation of T’Challa’s power and place in the Marvel universe. Black Panther “Enemy of the State II” further cemented this with T’Challa bumping up against Tony Stark. Oh, and Wolverine shows up too.

Black Panther’s importance carried on in the 4th volume of his series and writer Reginald Hudlin’s first storyline that ran the first six issues titled “Who is the Black Panther?” gave us a fresh look at Wakanda and its significance to T’Challa.

Black Panther “See Wakanda and Die” is another high point that throws us into the action of a very gripping invasion of the Skulls and what Black Panther must do to protect his country and those who rely on him.

I have to circle back and add Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “A Nation Under Our Feet”, which was a stellar work from the award-winning and world-renowned author and journalist. The story elevates not only the character but his history and his country. A true gem. 

Outside some appearances here and there in some crossover events stories, what Black Panther tales stick out to you?

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!