Black Panther – King T’Challa
I figured to close out the month it would be appropriate to take a look at the first Black superhero in mainstream American comics. Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966. He invited the team to Wakanda to test himself by defeating each of them. He has consistently shown himself to be one of the most formidable heroes in the Marvel universe and has fought against some of the strongest in the world and come out on top most of the time. He is also one of the smartest in the world, second only to Reed Richards and maybe Victor von Doom. He draws his strength from a special heart shaped herb that allows those of the royal bloodline to gain the abilities to become the Black Panther. The name Black Panther is actually a political title that is passed from generation to generation but must still be earned through trials to prove they are worthy. Throughout much of his history he had a connection with the Panther God. Due to certain events he lost his connection with it, but gained a new one with a different Panther God. This new one gave him new abilities which included control over the dead. For a time after he gave over the throne to his sister Shuri, he came to Hell’s Kitchen to be its protector while Daredevil was recovering from a demonic possession. He was also married to Storm for a while until he annulled their marriage because of Namor’s association with the X-men. Namor, in a rage attacked Wakanda while empowered with the power of the Phoenix. This led to them being mortal enemies for a time, only setting aside their differences to try to save the world.
He possesses some of the most advanced technology and has a suit that is just as advanced if not more so than Iron Mans. T’challa is usually one of the most level-headed people in the Marvel universe and has great wisdom. He often tries to steer his peers into making decisions he thinks are best. Sometimes he has to slap a little sense into them. He was approached to join the first incarnation of the Illuminati, but declined because he knew that they should not decide by themselves that only they know what is best for their world. He later joined the second incarnation in order to save their world and the multiverse. They failed, though they did find a way to survive the end of everything. Once they awoke on the world that Doom made to save some parts of existence, T’challa was instrumental in helping to distract him long enough for Reed to find the source of Doom’s power to fix everything that Doom did not save. Though he did not defeat the Beyonder powered Doom, he was able to slow him down with an Infinity gauntlet. He burned through most of the gems except one, the time gem. Just as Reed defeated Doom and Battleworld broke apart, he used it to send himself back in time to before the first Incursion. He is one of the few on Earth who remembers everything that happened.
Black Panther is a deep character that when written well, is one of the most compelling heroes to read about. While we can’t exactly aspire to be literal kings, the Black Panther can teach us quite a bit about the value of a keen mind, carrying yourself with dignity and being a repository of wisdom.