Wakanda's Protector: Black Panther
Since he has a movie coming out in 2018 titled Black Panther and he was a big part of Marvel’s Civil War I thought I would write about Black Panther aka T’Challa. Not to be confused with the Black Panther Party (his creation predated the Party by 3 months) and not influenced in any way when created despite popular belief. One of the most important characters to any comic universe lets talk about who I think is one of the most important heroes to ever be created.
First appearing in Fantastic Four #52 (1966) Black Panther was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and was the first black superhero ever created. While many books had black characters in the background there was never a lead hero. Kirby should get much more credit for his creation than Lee. At the height of the Vietnam era Kirby thought to himself why there weren’t any African-American heroes while soldiers of all colour in real life were dying at war. He sketched an idea and ran it by Lee. After several attempts trying to get his drawing right in his mind he came up with Black Panther. Jack Kirby’s original design was much different from what we see today and the original character name was Coal Tiger. Lee claims he created Panther but more or less just approved Kirby’s creation and Stan Lee has a history of this especially with him liking the limelight so much. The one big change Lee wanted from the original artwork was to cover his face which is how you got the Black Panther you see now versus the original version which had a cape and tights while seeing his face.
While becoming an Avenger much later on in his comic book career Black Panther didn’t receive his starring role until “Jungle Actions” in July of 1973-1976. This series was written by Don McGregor and what many call Marvel’s first graphic novel because most books in this series were written start to finish just like graphic novels. There’s a 200 page story arc that journeys to the heart of Wakanda, a nation ravaged by a revolution against its king, T’Challa. These books were overlooked and underrated classics and arguably the most tightly written multi-part superhero epic ever. A near flawless book where words seamlessly integrate with scenes and pictures while clearly introducing characters it’s beautifully done. It’s how a book should be delivered but sadly all are not. Many won’t remember but these books had guest appearances of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and many other well-known villains.
The Black Panther is the ceremonial title given to the chief of the Panther Tribe of the advanced African nation of Wakanda. In addition to ruling the country, he is also chief of its various tribes (collectively referring to as the Wakandas). The Panther habit is a symbol of office, head of state, and is used even during diplomatic missions as you seen in Civil War with Chadwick Boseman. The Panther title is hereditary but must be earned. Before T’Challa came his father, T’Chaka, as Black Panther and so on. T’Challa was raised by his father after his mother died at childbirth. His father murdered when he was just a young man and not quite ready to be a leader of the nation his uncle S’yan successfully passed the trials to become the next Black Panther. While growing into his leadership T’Challa met a young orphan named Ororo Munroe who he would later marry and we collectively know as Storm from the X-men. Now divorced because of events that happened during Civil War (comic book lore not the movie) and wanting to avenge his father’s death he defeated various champions of Wakandan tribes to take the mantle from his uncle and has been leader ever since.
Wakanda or the Kingdom of Wakanda is a small nation in North East Africa near Ethiopia and Nairobi and the home to Black Panther made famous for its famous in demand metal Vibranium (yes the same material Captain America’s shield is made of). Long ago a meteorite crashed into Wakanda and unearthed Vibranium. Vibranium is the reason Wakanda is shut off from the rest of the world because everyone wants to get their hands on it as it is such a valuable resource. For centuries Wakandan’s have remained in isolation and are now considered he most technologically advanced nation in the planet. Birnin Zana is the capital of the nation no bigger than Rwanda. Once home to primitive tribes, all changed when the meteorite hit, the tribes realized they could make advanced weapons out of it. Believing this to be a gift from the Gods, Vibranium allowed them to repel any attack from any force throughout their history. Led by their Black Panther, the Wakandan army is highly skilled and trained. The King has his own female assassins called the Dora Milaje who have dedicated their lives to protecting him. Wakanda has their own spy network across the globe and is considered better than the CIA’s. Their agency is called P.R.I.D.E. or Princess Regent Intelligence Division Executives. The official language is Wakandan but due to their advanced education system the people are fluent in a variety of African and European languages. Wakandan dollar is the currency and Vibranium is sold at $10,000 per gram and Wakanda’s sacred mound (where Vibranium is mined and where the meteorite hit) is estimated to have 10,000 tons of the material. You can see that nobody could match that kind of wealth. Being a member of the United Nations allows them to have political envoys across the globe such as the Wakandan Embassy in New York City. Their religion is Ennead, an ancient African religion believed to have ties to beings who visited Earth many years ago. Many believe that is how the meteorite hit them in the first place. Wakanda’s technology allows them to live in isolation. They’ve created methodologies of design so different it’s impossible to use with outside technology. Computer technology is so advanced it can not be hacked. All of their technology is Vibranium based Kimoyo cards and beads allow access to any technology or knowledge of Wakanda while acting as communication devices as well.
Now that we know much more about Wakanda lets talk about their fearless leader more. When becoming Black Panther every king is given the same powers from Bast or the goddess of Wakanda. He only loses these powers upon leaving his kingship behind or dying. T’Challa has the power to draw all knowledge, strength and every experience of every previous Panther. He can see with greater clarity and longer distances than any human. His vision extends to ultraviolet and infrared areas allowing him to see in total darkness and retain the same level of clarity. His hearing enables him to detect sounds from distances of 500 yards away. T’Challa can memorize thousands of scents, can smell fear, and detect if someone is lying by body odour. His strength is unmatched by most being able to lift up to 2 tons! T’Challa can run at speeds exceeding 40 miles per hour and the ability to attack faster than the eye can see. His stamina is unmatched as well with him also able to hold his breath for 6 minutes under water, exert himself at peak level for hours and because of his body makeup doesn’t have much fatigue. He can regenerate tissue and brain cells to an extraordinary degree and is immune to all Earthly toxins and diseases. Agility and reflexes are so special he can dodge bullets at point-blank range and Captain America once stated he was faster than the creature he was named after (panther). He is a genius of Science and considered one of the ten smartest people on Earth!! His photographic memory comes in handy while studying Vibranium principles. T’Challa was groomed to be a warrior from birth and had practiced and mastered an unknown amount of martial arts. He’s overpowered Captain America, Daredevil, even Wolverine!! Mastering all weapons known to man, being an expert marksman and an excellent tactician he is quite the overall package as you can see!! One other thing you may not know about T’Challa is he is on par with Tony Stark as an inventor.
The Black Panther suit is a Vibranium laced panther suit. The microweave mesh robs incoming objects of their momentum. Bullets don’t bounce off the suit they fall to the ground when they come in contact. The suit will not allow any knife or sword to penetrate it. It has claws in the gloves made of Antarctic Vibranium Anti-Metal that can break down any molecular structure including metal. They can also emit energy shield blades and launch as projectiles. The boots allow Black Panther to scale and surface, skim across water and will break his fall by using energy regulators. The boots once stopped the Hulk in his tracks when trying to crush Black Panther. He can cloak with just a thought and transport with a device in the suit. The Vibranium light daggers can be handled like a knife or fired like darts. His armor works just like Iron Man’s where a single thought controls anything the suit does. Very impressive indeed!!
I have a lot of excitement for this movie especially after his guest appearance in Civil War. I wrote this so you understand the importance of the first black superhero but also as a background on just who he is and why he’s ace!! Black Panther doesn’t get the credit he deserves in my opinion and I hope this article sheds the light on the character it deserves!