Black Panther

The Black Panther (from Wikipedia)
The Black Panther (T’Challa) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and penciller and co-plotter Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966).

The character was the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, debuting years before such early African-American superheroes as the Falcon (1969), Luke Cage (1972), Green Lantern John Stewart (1971) and Black Lightning(1977). Black Panther is depicted as the king and protector of Wakanda, a fictional African nation. Chadwick Bosemanportrays Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War and will reprise the role in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Black Panther’s Name
The Black Panther’s name predates the October 1966 founding of the Black Panther Party, though not the black panther logo of the party’s predecessor, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, nor the segregated World War II Black Panthers Tank Battalion. He is the first black superhero in mainstream comic books; virtually no black heroes were created before him, and none with actual superpowers. These included the characters in the single-issue, low-distribution All-Negro Comics #1 (1947); Waku, Prince of the Bantu, who starred in his own feature in the omnibus title Jungle Tales, from Marvel’s 1950s predecessor, Atlas Comics; and the Dell Comics Western character Lobo, the first black person to star in his own comic book. Previous non-caricatured black supporting characters in comics include U.S. Army infantry private Gabriel Jones of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.

Early life and background
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 referred to as the Wakandas). The Panther habit is a symbol of office (head of state) and is used even during diplomatic missions. The Panther is a hereditary title, but one still must earn it.

In the distant past, a meteorite made of the (fictional) vibration-absorbing mineral vibranium crashed in Wakanda, and was unearthed. Reasoning that outsiders would exploit Wakanda for this valuable resource, the ruler King T’Chaka like his father and other Panthers before him, concealed his country from the outside world.

After the King died, his son T’Challa was next in line to be the king of Wakanda and Black Panther. As a teenager, T’Challa met and fell in love with orphaned teen Ororo Munroe, who would grow up to become the X-Men member Storm.

Your Assignment
Origin stories and myths are still created all the time – in movies, comics, books, and in real life. Your assignment this weekend is to read two chapters from the Black Panther comic book series.

Reasoning and Inference Creation (three responses)
You will be asked to write short responses to three questions:

  • What is the backstory of Black Panther and the nation of Wakanda according to the comics you just read?
  • What inferences can we make about this African nation — Wakanda — based on what you read?
  • What inferences can you make about U.S. culture and race relations during the year this comic was written based on what you read?


Choose ONE of these three groupings. You will read BOTH chapters in that grouping.

Original Introduction to Black Panther (middle)
Published during the Civil Rights movement in 1961, Marvell chooses to tell the story of an African superhero — the first for either Marvel or DC Comics. The story is still seeped in a cultural moment that seems highly racist for modern viewers, though was seen as progressive at the time of publication.

Who is the Black Panther? (easiest)
Written in 2005, Marvel enticed Reginald Hudlin to tell the backstory of the Black Panther. The story works to tell the history of Wakanda and its king, Black Panther. This is the most straightforward and comprehensive of the three series listed here.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther (hardest)
In 2016, Marvel approached the Black activist and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates to pick up the story of Black Panther. Coates imagines a world where the African nation of Wakanda has turned on itself. Black Panther, king of this land, has been exiled and ostracized. In this telling, we learn more about the origin of this famous king and the life hardships that will shape him to become who he is.