The 10 Best Black Panther Comic Book Storylines

Marvel Studios premiered the first teaser for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at San Diego Comic-Con. The incredible preview hinted that the movie adapts key comic book storylines that pit Wakanda against Namor the Sub-Mariner and Atlantis. Black Panther's clashes with Namor in modern comic books only scratch the surface of his amazing comic book history.

Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 back in 1966 and his legacy as the first Black superhero in mainstream American comics produced many important and entertaining storylines from many diverse creators. These stories explore Wakanda's complex relationship with the world, what it means to be a leader, and what it means to be a hero.

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The Black Panther!

Black Panther leaps into action on the cover of Fantastic Four #52 comic.

Black Panther first appears in 1966, co-created by the legendary comic book team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. His debut storyline in Fantastic Four #52 and 53 proved profound within the Marvel Universe, introducing Wakanda and opening the door to everything that would come after, as well as in real-world culture.

His character and background evolve considerably in future comic books, but the core concept Lee and Kirby introduced remains a touchstone for all media featuring the comic character to this day.

Joining The Avengers

Black Panther crawls across a roof in Marvel Comics.

Black Panther joins the Avengers in Avengers #52, a monumental storyline that changes the team forever and provides the basis for his MCU depiction many years later. The story also provides some commentary, within the strict confines late 1960s comics allowed, as he is apprehended by police for the apparent murder of the Avengers.

It turns out The Grim Reaper, among Wonder Man's most powerful villains, was responsible, and Black Panther is forced to go on the run to find him. The scene plays more uncomfortably now than it did almost sixty years ago and provides an early glimpse into the character's power as a cultural lens for America and the world at large.

The Man Without Fear

Black Panther crawls on the roof of a New York City church in a panel from Marvel Comics.

Black Panther became Daredevil in a fascinating storyline from 2011 called Black Panther: The Man Without Fear. This story sees T'Challa go to Hell's Kitchen and take over the Daredevil identity after losing all his powers and sense of place. This leads to him reconnecting with himself and other people and discovering what makes Black Panther so necessary.

The storyline also numbers among the best Daredevil comic books ever, showing that the most important thing for many superheroes is a direct connection to the people that they serve.

The Illuminati

Black Panther Illuminati

Comic book fans know the Illuminati play a key if covert role in many modern Marvel Comics events. Black Panther turns down an invitation to join at its inception, depicted in New Avengers: The Illuminati #1, fearing where their unilateralism leads. This kicks off a critical storyline running for years in the comics and his eventual joining the group.

The Illuminati likely plays a role in the MCU's future and could adapt many story threads running through Black Panther comics all the way to 2015's Secret Wars, where the secret council's deliberations about incursions led to many difficult choices.

See Wakanda And Die

Wakandans fight Skrulls in Marvel Comics.

See Wakanda And Die appears in Black Panther #39-41, closing out the 2005 volume with a bang. This comic storyline ties into the Secret Invasion crossover, among Marvel Comics' most important events. The story not only presents great battles between Wakanda and invading Skrulls who come to claim its vibranium, but a powerful showcase for T'Challa as a character.

His refusal to bow down to the Skrulls inspires and motivates his people and his fortitude in this story proves why he remains such a compelling figure in the comics and now the movies.

Who Is The Black Panther?

Shuri wants to become Black Panther in Marvel Comics.

Who Is The Black Panther? opens the 2005 volume by writer Reginald Hudlin and the title conveys exactly what the story seeks to learn. What makes the Black Panther so compelling? Who is this figure and does he mean different things to different people? That question looms large for Shuri, who debuts in issue #2 and desires the mantle for herself.

Shuri injects new life and possibilities into the Black Panther mythos, giving T'Challa both a foil and an ally who eventually becomes a major figure in the comics and now also the MCU.

Panther's Rage

Black Panther fights Killmonger in Marvel Comics.

Killmonger numbers among the most powerful Black Panther villains in the comics and Panther's Rage shows why. This iconic storyline from Jungle Action #6-18 in the 1970s explores Wakandan society and its positives and negatives, something the comics had yet to do at that point. The story asks big questions of T'Challa and his people, who mostly disguise their power from the world.

The MCU greatly simplified Killmonger's ascent to the throne in the movies, but for fans seeking to know about him and the complex politics in Wakanda, this twelve-issue epic offers a lot.

Sturm and Drang

Black Panther prepares to go to war against Doctor Doom and Namor in Marvel Comics.

Sturm and Drang, from Black Panther #26-29 likely serves as inspiration for the upcoming movie, making it essential reading. In this epic storyline, Wakanda finds itself in conflict with the Lemurians, an off-shoot of the Atlantean people. This leads to conflict with Namor.

This comic book storyline by writer Christopher Priest and artist Sal Velluto also ultimately involves Doctor Doom, something that happens more than once in the comics and may in the MCU.

Doomwar

Dr Doom attacks Black Panther in Doomwar comic book.

Doomwar possibly provides even more inspiration for the movie. This epic storyline sees Doctor Doom instigate unrest in Wakanda in order to destabilize the country so he can claim its vibranium. T'Challa loses his powers and goes into a coma after a battle with The Cabal, Doom's cohorts, and Shuri takes on the Black Panther mantle.

T'Challa's loss and Shuri's ascension figure to be story elements in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Doom's central role in this storyline in the comics suggests he could be involved in live-action as well.

A Nation Under Our Feet

Black Panther in his suit standing in front of Wakanda in Marvel Comics.

Writer and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates brought Black Panther into the future literally and figuratively with his run on the title, beginning in 2016. A Nation Under Our Feet examines the political and cultural world of Wakanda in ways no other comic has, showing the strain that years of war have taken on the powerful but human kingdom.

This leads to an honest assessment by Black Panther of himself and his country that superhero comics rarely if ever tackle. While the comic examines the present, Wakanda becomes more and more futuristic in the excellent art from Brian Stelfreeze, creating a template for the MCU and comic books to come.

NEXT: 10 Best Black Panther Comics Characters Not In The MCU

2022-08-14T02:33:28.000Z

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