T’Challa, the King of Wakanda.
Black Panther is one of the more interesting characters in all of Marvel Comics. T’Challa debuted back in 1966, famously before the real life Black Panthers were conceived. He’s easily one of the more OP characters in comics, but hasn’t received the true spotlight treatment until recent times. Black Panther has ascended to be one of my favorite characters, and I can endorse him as one of the best characters in comics.
Let’s start with his powers. By birth, T’Challa has no intrinsic superhuman abilities. However, by consuming the heart-shaped herb native to Wakanda, T’Challa is granted a considerable list of post-human attributes. The herb endows him with superhuman speed, agility, strength, stamina, and durability. He also receives an advanced healing factor. T’Challa’s senses are boosted to a near-Wolverine level. He is also the “King of the Dead” and able to summon spirits to the physical world and reanimate/control the dead. He has a considerable connection to the mystic arts and is able to absorb and outright negate magical attacks. T’Challa also has a connection to all past Black Panthers and has full access to their strength and knowledge. See what I mean about OP? These aren’t even all his abilites. He’s also a genius outside of any of his other strengths—this may be his most powerful attribute. He holds a PhD in physics from Oxford, is an inventor of multiple advanced technological devices, and is listed as the smartest person in the Marvel Universe right behind the “tied-for-first triad” of Reed Richards, Valeria Richards, and Dr. Doom. He has more abilities, but I’ll let you get into those, for yourself.
In addition to his advanced physical and mental attributes, T’Challa wears the heralded Black Panther suit. For all intents and purposes it is equivalent, and possibly even superior, to Tony Stark’s famous Iron Man suit. The Black Panther suit is constructed of a Vibranium weave. Vibranium absorbs and/or deflects all forms of kinetic energy. This means the metal is practically indestructible. His suit also contains advanced technological processes and cybernetics. In battle, he is essentially un-conquerable.
However, most famously, the Black Panther is also King of Wakanda. Wakanda is an isolated and hidden nation within the heart of Africa. It’s entire society is based on the possession and characteristics of Vibranium. As a result, Wakanda is extremely rich and extremely advanced. The modern classic film, Black Panther, gave the wider world a glimpse into the nature of Wakanda. The film let everyone know how awesome the Black Panther truly is. In addition to being a legitimate superhero, T’Challa is also a king. This mantle comes with a list of responsibilities and choices many other heroes simply don’t have to make. It’s what makes him an amazing character and one of the best heroes in the Marvel Universe.
Black Panther is definitely worth anyone’s time to look deeper into. His powers, intelligence, heart, and history combine to make him intriguing and admirable. Black Panther has also gone a long way in raising awareness of Black culture in the popular imagination. The character has even made Black people have more appreciation for themselves. T’Challa is a long running character with a bright road ahead. Bring on Black Panther 2022!
Black Panther (2018), Director—Ryan Coogler, Producer—Kevin Feige
This is the film that started it all. Black Panther is one of Marvel’s best films and a standard bearer for modern Black culture. A must-watch, no question.
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (2016), Writer—Ta-Nehisi Coates, Pencils—Bryan Stelfreeze
This is the modern-day incarnation of Black Panther. Many of the attributes of the film version, including the kinetic energy absorbing and releasing suit, were taking from this comic. Coates celebrates Black culture and elevates T’Challa to a more empathetic and deep character in this book.
Black Panther: Panther’s Rage (1972), Writer—Don McGregor, Pencils—Richard Buckler
If I have to reference an old school title, you know it’s good. This work introduced Erik Killmonger, the main villain of the 2018 film, and chronologues T’Challa’s journey to defeat this deadly foe. This story arc establishes many of the character traits of the Black Panther and remains an important work, to this day.
Secret Wars (2016) and Fantastic Four #52 (1966) just missed the cut, but are worthy entries, in their own rights. In Secret Wars, we get to see Black Panther simply being awesome. He dons the Infinity Gauntlet (!!!) and summons an entire army of the undead in order to challenge God King Doom. A must-read. Fantastic Four deserves a shout-out because it’s the first appearance of the Black Panther! T’Challa solos the entire Fantastic Four on his first venture within Marvel Comics. Who doesn’t want to see that!?
**Oh, and he was married to Storm. I don’t think I need elaborate on that.
—The Cavalier Nerd