Fantastic Four #52-53
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #52, Fantastic Four #53
They are then attacked by the Black Panther, and it is only because Wyatt Wingfoot came along for the ride that they are able to avoid being defeated. The Panther fights with a combination of prowess and weaponry built into his suit. In addition to the weapons, he's got agility and panther-like senses, which he acquired by eating certain herbs and undergoing rituals, of which he can't share the details. The weaponry was disregarded by later writers.
After the skirmish, the Black Panther removes his mask, saying he doesn't wear it to hide his identity; it's just a symbol of his power. His real name is T'Challa.
While T'Challa is explaining things to the FF, the Wakandans are attacked by Ulysses Klaw who can create solid creatures out of sound in a way that i've never quite understood.
Klaw is still an ordinary human in this story (to the degree that scientists in the Marvel Universe are "ordinary")...
...save for the projector that has replaced one of his hands.
He's after the Wakandan vibranium, which is described as marble-like but with a metallic sheen. The rare metal absorbs vibrations...
...and it's said that Wakanda has a "virtually inexhaustible supply".
The Black Panther's father, T'Chaka, was killed by Klaw ten years earlier, when T'Challa was still a boy, but T'Challa managed to drive off Klaw and his men, injuring Klaw's hand in the process.
The FF and Black Panther, along with the Wakandan army, manage to defeat Klaw, but at the end of the issue he enters his sound converter.
Meanwhile, T'Challa pledges his fortune, his powers, his very life, "to the service of all mankind". Basically, he means he'll become a super-hero.
Black Panther in his first appearance makes heavy use of the technology that is available to him. This is where Christopher Priest will draw from for his interpretation of the Panther which is very different than the Tarzan approach of writers in-between.
This is a cool shield design:
Per Mark's comment, updated to add a page from Jungle Action #10 that shows Jack Kirby's original design for the Coal Tiger:
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Black Panther #36
Inbound References (14): show
The Black Panther was originally supposed to be the Coal Tiger, a name used by news services to refer to African nations emerging from British colonialism. The costume design was multicolored, maskless, and had a big Superman cape. Thankfully, everyone involved decided against it.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 3, 2011 5:07 PM
Kirby's original rejected cover to #52 was seen in Alter Ego #118.
Kirby also did a proposal for a solo Black Panther series in 1967, but it didn't go anywhere(maybe that's why he grabbed the Panther in the 1970s?).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 10, 2013 1:44 PM
as much as Lee and Kirby were trying to portray a contrast to the (for the time) usual portrayal of Africans as "primitives", there are plenty of things in this issue to make you raise your eyebrows. not to mention pretty much every scene with an awake Wyatt Wingfoot.
it's too bad later writers drop the technology aspect and only focus on the mystical panther abilities. (man, i loved Priest's Black Panther run.)
Posted by: min | June 25, 2014 8:45 AM
While you raise your eyebrows today after reading this book, I think that when you look at these FF issues in the context of what the world was like in 1966, it comes across as much more progressive and ground-breaking. For the purposes of context, in 1966 most Southern states still had laws that prohibited interracial marriage; most Southern schools were still segregated and only a few years before, DC had recolored an adaptation of the James Bond movie "Dr. No" to remove all racial skin color from the comic. It really was a different time and I think it is difficult to judge this story without taking into account the historical context. Bottom line: Kirby gives us a strong and intelligent African hero in a time in our history where there were very, very few such role models visible in American pop culture.
Posted by: Zeilstern | June 25, 2014 9:42 AM
I agree with Zellstern. Stan might have terrible with how he writes women at this point, but he and Kirby do a very good job with Wakanda and the Black Panther. He's an awesome character from the first time he ever appeared.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 13, 2015 6:21 AM
I know that the Lowndes County Freedom Organization in Alabama used a black panther logo in the spring of 1966 - right around the time this issue was being drawn. And then by fall of '66, after this issue had been on the stands for a few months, the Oakland Black Panther Party got organized. I'm really curious as to who influenced who?
Posted by: Zeilstern | February 8, 2015 9:26 PM
A couple of weird errors from Stan and Jack in #53 -- Black Panther says he will take out the "two guards" at Klaw's hideout, when there are three other people in the panel; and, as can be seen above, Klaw miraculously gets his hand back before jumping into the converter.
Posted by: TCP | April 17, 2015 9:59 AM
Interestingly, Denny O'Neil has a fan letter in issue 53, even though he is already working at Marvel as an assistant to Stan Lee, which is even noted on the letter's page.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 30, 2015 2:52 AM
Comics Interview #105 prints some rejected Kirby panels from #52(and maybe a 2nd rejected cover).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 8, 2015 10:35 AM
According Mark Evanier in Jack Kirby's Fourth World Ominbus, Volume Two, these issues led to Kirby creating the Sunny Sumo character who appears in DC's Forever People series.
A Marvel letterer and production staff member, Morrie Kuramoto, asked Kirby when he would create a Japanese hero, after having created the Black Panther. Kirby immediately responded by coming up with the basic character concept on the spot, but held onto the character, as he was now wary of creating new concepts for Marvel without full acknowledgement as creator. When he went over to DC, Kirby created the character there, with a dedication for Kuramoto, which the DC production staff removed prior to publication.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | September 13, 2015 3:09 PM
Definitely a ground-breaking superhero. One of the most important intros in the Silver Age. This is the first appearance as a character and as a major black, mainstream superhero.
Posted by: Jason | February 17, 2016 12:56 AM
Kirby's original cover for #52 is also reproduced in Jungle Action #11 Sept. 1974 according to http://www.comics.org/issue/20188/
Posted by: James Holt | September 3, 2016 6:15 PM
The Coal Tiger is seen as one of the alternate-timeline Avengers during the Proctor story, in Avengers issue #355.
Posted by: Dan Spector | September 3, 2016 9:21 PM
Coal Tiger would be a weird name as Tigers are not indigenous to Africa, but Asia. Still, I am sure that was something people could get easily confused. When I was younger, I thought Tigers were in Africa too. The name and appearance of the Black Panther is much stronger.
Posted by: Chris | September 3, 2016 9:50 PM
From all accounts, the Black Panther was not inspired the black power group nor were they inspired by him. They took the name from a banner used by a black protest group in Los Angeles in the early 60's. The Black Panther was a great character and about time too.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 7, 2016 10:53 PM
Ben is really RUDE here, almost to much to defend. Hes really a jack ass to the panther, some might say he needs an atitude change towards black people
Posted by: Roy Mattson | July 10, 2017 9:18 PM
Really weird to see T'Challa firing up a coffin nail in issue #53. Also, since it was common practice to model heroes after actors, I wonder if Kirby intended the unmasked Panther to resemble Sidney Poitier, because there are notable similarities in a few panels.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 16, 2017 9:37 PM
#52 has the Bullpen farewell to Steve Ditko in it.
Posted by: squirrel_defeater | January 22, 2018 7:04 PM
fnord's going to run into some major continuity problems when/if he gets to Reginald Hudlin's run on Black Panther. In order to support his (much cooler) idea of Wakanda as having always been technologically advanced rather than post-colonial, Hudlin dispenses with all but the bare bones of T'Challa's origin here. Instead of being a prospector who kills T'Challa in Wakanda, Klaw is a mercenary who kills him at a Bilderberg summit. There's really no way to reconcile the two stories.
And while I'm at it, he also makes the American Black Knight British, the Russian Rhino American, and the Chinese Radioactive Man Russian. And he changes Wakanda from a land-locked nation to a coastal one, for some reason.
Posted by: Andrew | March 8, 2018 8:10 AM
Although it's post-Heroes Return, so I suppose you could hand wave it to Franklin Richards, like Tony Stark being an adult again...
Posted by: Andrew | March 8, 2018 8:57 AM
In order to support his (much cooler) idea of Wakanda as having always been technologically advanced rather than post-colonial, Hudlin dispenses with all but the bare bones of T'Challa's origin here. Instead of being a prospector who kills T'Challa in Wakanda, Klaw is a mercenary who kills him at a Bilderberg summit. There's really no way to reconcile the two stories.
Wakanda being an advanced society that was well aware of the outside world prior to T'Challa's reign is actually an idea Christopher Priest established in issue #30 of his Panther series, the one with the first version of the Captain America-T'Chaka fight (This is the fight that Hudlin revises from Cap realizing he's playing the imperialist and ending the fight by surrendering as a show of respect into T'Chaka beating the crap out of him instead.)
The real continuity problem, as fnord12 has noted here and elsewhere, comes from the non-Kirby Panther stories of the later 1960s, which treated Wakanda as a primitive place outside of T'Challa's palace. This is what Don McGregor had to run with, and it's also part of what Priest subtly revises and Hudlin simply tosses out.
Wakanda no longer being land-locked might be explicable with reference to Jack Kirby's Panther series and Ed Hannigan's story from Defenders #8284: both used Kiber Island as a setting, and Hannigan had T'Challa annex it so that Wakanda could get into a war with Atlantis as a result. (This also gets referenced in Priest's run.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | March 8, 2018 10:55 AM
That should be "Defenders #82-84."
Posted by: Omar Karindu | March 8, 2018 10:57 AM
I think it's really just Defenders #84.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 8, 2018 4:51 PM
When is the Panther's real name of T'Challa first given ? I've just read these two issues and I couldn't see any mention there. T'Chaka's name is mentioned a number of times, but the Panther is just referred to as the Panther, or my chieftain.
Posted by: Mike Teague | March 13, 2018 5:29 PM
He's first called T'Challa in Captain America 100.
Posted by: Michael | March 13, 2018 7:54 PM
Thank you for confirming that Michael.
Posted by: Mike Teague | March 14, 2018 4:52 PM
He was first called Ulysses in the Official Handbook. I'm not sure when the name Ulysses was first used in an actual story.
Posted by: Michael | March 14, 2018 7:56 PM
I find it strange to hear that Black Panther's solo tales depicted Wakanda as primitive. I have not read many of them, but I do remember a few depictions in the Avengers where Wakanda's technological prowess was recognized. And I remember OHOTMU definitely attributed the construction of the Avenger's quinjet to the Wakanda Design Group. And that this aspect of the Black Panther's kingdom was utilized in various cameo and guest star appearances. And obviously Kirby's return to the character used it as well.
So maybe it's less that other writers disregarded it than Don McGregor disregarded it? Or perhaps that writers acknowledged it, but failed to utilize it on behalf of the character?
Posted by: Chris | March 15, 2018 12:06 AM
Wakanda outside the palace and central village was depicted as primitive in stories like Avengers #62 and Astonishing Tales #6-7. Kirby's take seems to be that Wakanda is a small place, basically a central village next to the Vibranium mound, but as the country expanded, writers reintroduced a more typically Western view of Africa.
But yes, the bigger element is that T'Challa simply stops using tech himself and goes with "acrobat" in pretty much every post-Kirby appearance, going on about his "jungle-spawned powers" and so forth. Even when he fights the Man-Ape in the middle of his own techno-jungle, the only use of technology is "Panther turns out the lights, Man-Ape turns them back on." In essence, central Wakanda was drawn as a techno-wonderland by artists like John Buscema, but written as a stereotypical jungle kingdom with a few cool planes, which were mostly used to quickly transport characters to and from it. And otherwise, even Kirby gave us lots of shots of the Panther stalking through a standard-issue jungle setting.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | March 15, 2018 7:00 AM
Interestingly enough, these issues were not the first use of the name "Wakanda". The "Wakandas" was the name of the African tribe featured in Edgar Rice Burroughs' non-Tarzan, jungle/safari adventure short novel "The Man Eater", first published in serialized form in 1915. I wonder if Lee or Kirby had read this story and remembered the name, since I'm pretty sure authors of "boy's adventures" like, Burroughs, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, et al, could be cited as early influences on their work.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | April 10, 2018 8:47 PM
I would doubt either of them remembered the name, but they both inhaled enough pulp fiction that one or both of them almost-certainly read the original Burroughs [Wells, Verne, etc.] so there would be a subconscious memory. Beyond that, it's probably just putting syllables together to sound suitably "African." "Wakandidos" wouldn't fit, for instance.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 10, 2018 8:55 PM
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