You thought you couldn’t get more hype about Black Panther, right? Well, it turns out, you’re wrong. After making his debut in Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa is finally getting his own solo film, and fans everywhere are collectively losing their minds with excitement. The black community especially is rallying around the hero: from wearing traditional African garb, to raising money for younger kids to see the film, and even Kendrick Lamar releasing a whole new studio album alongside the film’s release. The release of the Black Panther film seems to mark an unprecedented time in history, where black people are finally able to see a predominately black cast take the spotlight in a superhero film directed by a black filmmaker, where the emphasis is put on their power as people. In other words: this movie is a game changer. The Panther himself has been around in pop culture for years, dating back to the ’60s, and making history as the first black superhero in mainstream American comic books. In no particular order, here’s a glimpse of some of his most intense moments throughout the years of his comic book history.
1. The Time He Actually Punched The Devil In The Face
Source: Black Panther Vol. 3 #3 (1998) Christopher Priest
Some context: Okay, so Mephisto isn’t actually the devil. In the Marvel Universe, Mephisto essentially rules over a Hellish pocket dimension, and uses the “Hell” mythos to exploit the fear of humans. Just to give a little more background on the guy: he was Thanos’ right hand man during the Infinity Gauntlet story, urging Thanos on to whoo Lady Death and wipe out half the life in all the universe. He’s also responsible for messing up Spider-Man’s marriage to Mary Jane, so he might as well be the devil, because he’s clearly a messed up character who enjoys the suffering of others. He’s most famously known for giving Ghost Rider his powers though, so that gives you some idea of the scope of how powerful this guy is.
Fight With The Panther: The punch itself takes place in issue #3, but it’s only the part of an entire arc involving the origin of the Black Panther. Once T’Challa realizes that Mephisto’s powers are tied to his dimension, he’s able to piece together (with some help from his team of Wakandan scientists) that on earth, they can cut the circuit to his powers by placing a forcefield around Mephisto thirty times a second. From there, it’s a cake walk, and Black Panther literally rips his heart out. Comics, right? Just goes to show how effective a hero T’Challa is, by not only relying on his bravery, but his friends-in-arms as well. It’s not the last we see of Mephisto though, so if you want to read more, definitely check out Priest’s run.
2. The Time He Wore The Infinity Gauntlet To Take On Doom
Source: Secret Wars Vol. 1 #6 (2015) Jonathan Hickman
Some Context: Most everyone is familiar with Doctor Doom and all his self righteous glory, but for those who aren’t, he started out as the main antagonist of the Fantastic Four. He’s evolved since then, and has gone on to become the antagonist to pretty much…everyone, at some point. In short terms, Victor von Doom is the ruler of the Kingdom of Latveria, and basically thinks he’s better than everyone all the time. He’s also in love with Sue Richards, and in most cases, he serves as a foil to Reed Richards. He’s not all bad though, his main character trait is that he simply thinks he can run the world better than everyone else. When 2015 rolled around, he got that chance.
Fight With The Panther: As previously stated, Doom thinks he can run the world better than everyone. This doesn’t make him outright evil, but after a series of universe shattering events called “incursions” lead to the destruction of the Marvel Universe, Doom gets the power of a god, and is the only one left with the power to piece the multiverse together. In typical Doom fashion, however, the power gets to his head, and things start to get out of control. A few surviving members from the old Marvel Universe who have their memories in tact all navigate their way into this strange new world, with Black Panther being lead with Namor, by Doctor Strange to the location of the Infinity Gauntlet. I won’t spoil anything more, but Strange put the Gauntlet in a secure location away from Doom in case things ever went awry, and T’Challa uses the Gauntlet to turn the battle in their favor to put their world back together. So, that’s one Devil, and one God that T’Challa has taken on so far, just in case you weren’t keeping score.
3. The Time He Took On The KKK
Source: Jungle Action #19-24 “Panther vs. The Klan” (1976) Don McGregor
Some Context: It’s the KKK. ‘Nuff said.
Fight With The Panther: In “The Blackest Panther: Don McGregor in the Jungles of Wakanda” by Tom Stewart, he explains that Don McGregor worked as a proofreader for Marvel, and noted to the editorial staff that stories featuring white characters in African settings was outdated. Marvel then tasked McGregor with creating original stories for Jungle Action and Black Panther took the lead role. In one particular arc, the Panther travels to Georgia to investigate the murder of his at-the-time girlfriend’s sister, and comes to blows with KKK impersonators, as well as the actual KKK themselves. The actual arc was never finished, as Jungle Action was canceled mid-story due to low sales. Black Panther got moved to his own solo title, but “Panther vs. The Klan” would be later picked up as a subplot Black Panther #14-15. According to Jason Sacks in “Top 10 1970’s Marvels”, McGregor is also given credit as an early innovator of the multi-issue story arc that is commonplace in the comics industry today.
4. His Debut, Where He Took Out The ENTIRE Fantastic Four
Source: Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #52 (1966) Stan Lee
Some Context: The Fantastic Four are commonly known as Marvel’s First Family. Adventurers to the stars, the Fantastic Four got their powers after a wave of cosmic rays in space transformed them all forever. Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben all developed powers, and through countless adventures have been (mostly) a mainstay of Marvel Comics.
Fight With The Panther: There’s a lot of intense moments for Black Panther, but it’s hard to top his actual comics debut. So, how’d the FF encounter T’Challa? Reed is sent a state of the art ship from the mysterious nation of Wakanda, and is invited by the Panther himself to check out his home. This sends up a few red flags for the Thing, but curiosity gets the best of Reed, and the FF decide to take a road trip. Throughout the issue, everyone has doubts about Wakanda- and the Panther- not quite believing an African nation tucked away in the jungle could have technology better than theirs, so Reed desperately needs answers. Lo and behold, upon their arrival the Panther has laid out elaborate traps for each member of the team. He traps the Human Torch first, right after putting Thing’s powers on the fritz. Next, he has his soldiers separate the group, where he takes out Invisible Woman using his tracking skills, beating Thing in a fistfight after destabilizing his strength, and then putting Reed in titanium braces. He basically manages to out-Batman Batman, and this is his first appearance. The only thing he didn’t account for, however, was Wyatt Wingfoot (friend of Johnny Storm) tagging along on the trip, who manages to free the group, and after that they confront the Panther. From there, he lays out his backstory, and explains he didn’t ever really intend to hurt them, he just wanted to beat them all as a training exercise before he decided to take on Ulysses Klaw, the man who killed his father. So, I should clarify that he took out the Fantastic Four as practice in his first appearance. Black excellence.
Honorable Mentions: Wakanda having the cure for cancer, Black Panther having contingency plans for Galactus, and Black Panther joining the Avengers as an excuse to spy on the United States.
Black Panther has had a long history of amazing feats, and there are plenty more to go. Gearing up for his film debut, be sure to check out some of the above reads, and be sure to share to spread the hype.