Issue(s): Avengers #87
And the Vision tries to one-up the Panther with his own mopiness, but the Scarlet Witch cuts him off and asks the Panther to tell his origin story.
After the known portion of the origin about Klaw and the death of T'Challa's father, T'Chaka...
...we get some new material, including a newly invented friend named B'Tumba. T'Challa and B'Tumba were sent to America to be educated while B'Tumba's father, N'Baza, served as regent.
When they returned home, T'Challa had to pass two tests in order to become king. The first was to defeat half a dozen warriors in battle.
The second, after receiving his costume, was to seek out and eat a heart-shaped herb.
After finding and eating the herb, T'Challa discovered that AIM was raiding his country's vibranium.
T'Challa suspected that N'Baza may have been in cahoots with AIM, but it turns out that the culprit was B'Tumba, jealous of T'Challa's successes at school.
However, B'Tumba has a last minute change of heart and helps the Black Panther defeat AIM before dying.
It's said during the origin that Klaw was working for AIM, at least in a weapon-designing capacity. This would have been after the death of T'Chaka but before his return in FF #53.
The heart-shaped herb provides an explanation for the Black Panther's powers, which include his speed, strength, and special tracking abilities. I would have liked to see more evidence or explanation of the technological aspect of the Panther's Wakanda - did the Panther bring those ideas back from his education in America, or were they inspired by AIM's invasion, or something else? But since Thomas has been ignoring those aspects of the Black Panther's character, it's no surprise to not see them mentioned in this origin. Hawkeye-Goliath does refer to Wakanda as "that jungle version of Disneyland you hail from" which i guess could be considered a vague acknowledgement that the country isn't just a typical third world nation. Hawkeye generally is voiced well in this book (note Thomas' self-referential parody of "even an android can cry" in the opening scene; Hawkeye is also confident that the Panther will remain on the team, even though everything else in the issue says otherwise).
We do see some advanced technology when T'Challa first gets his costume, but it's described as "alien to the jungle setting".
After the origin, we learn that N'Baza has just recently died, leaving the Black Panther with the choice of returning home to lead his country, or stay with the Avengers. Despite Hawkeye's assurances, he will soon decide to return home. Aside from brief appearances next issue and in Sub-Mariner #35, this is the last we'll see of the Panther on the Avengers until the "all Avengers" story in Avengers #99-100.
Art this issue is by Frank Giacoia & Sal Busecma, each reversing their typical roles. It's not bad.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place soon after the Avengers return from their encounter with the Squadron Supreme last issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
That image of Klaw is a pretty blatant swipe of Kirby from the FF, surprised you didn't mention it. Doesn't mean I don't like Giacoia's art but this was easy to notice.
Posted by: George Gordon | June 13, 2014 5:24 AM
Is that really a swipe? It was not uncommon back then for artists drawing flashback sequences to try to recreate images from the original comics.
Posted by: Robert | June 13, 2014 6:37 AM
Yes, of Klaw's face before he was transformed into living energy. Go find the FF entry and it's very blatant. I remember this coming up in the last issue that Giacoia penciled. I personally don't care, but was surprised no one mentioned this.
Posted by: George Gordon | June 13, 2014 7:16 AM
I like the page where the AIM guy (B'Tumba?) has one foot in the panel that's the interior of the ship and the other foot in the jungle background panel. Cute.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 1, 2014 1:20 PM
Thomas really likes stripping away the idea that Wakanda was special before T'Challa. Much later, in Fantastic Four Unlimited #1, he decides that T'Challa's grandfather was the first Black Panther, which contradicts Kirby's 1970s series establishing a long line of Panthers. Everyone since has ignored the retcon entirely, thankfully.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 18, 2015 10:09 AM
To be fair, he's not the only one- Don McGregor had T'Challa's stepmother talk like the Wakandans had only discovered the unique properties of vibranium when T'Challa was a boy. Never mind that the vibranium mound had supposedly been sacred for generations. Again, everyone since has ignored that retcon.
Posted by: Michael | October 18, 2015 10:21 AM
Another one that I re-read last night. I found it a pretty good story, filling in some of the gaps in the Black Panther's history.
Of course we do have an old, trusted friend of T'Challa's betraying him. Roy Thomas already established M'Baku / Man-Ape turning traitor, and now we find out about B'Tumba. Anyone keep track of how many other friends & allies from Wakanda subsequently turned on him? No wonder the Panther eventually became so secretive & manipulative; he must have gotten tired of worrying about who was going to stab him in the back next!
Interesting to see Frank Giacoia on pencils. It's been observed by his contemporaries that Giacoia often had trouble meeting deadlines, which is why he very rarely penciled, instead working primarily as an inker. Looking at his work on this story, it's good. Yeah, there are some swipes of Kirby, but the layouts & storytelling are interesting. Too bad he wasn't able to do more pencil jobs.
Posted by: Ben Herman | July 31, 2016 12:57 PM
Well, let's see, in addition to M'Baku and B'Tumba, there's also his cousin Jakarra from the Kirby series, his one-time Air Force pilot Wheeler (Daredevil I #245), Tanzika from Jungle Action and Panther's Prey, and the child Kantu got hooked on drugs in Panther's Prey too and ended up being used as a pawn by Solomon Prey. And later we have Nakia becoming a new verson of the Panther villain Malice (not to be confused with the X-villain of that name.)
It's even arguably that his archfoe Killmonger is in this vein; yes, Killmonger thinks T'Chala and his father are to blame for his own suffering, but from T'Challa's perspective this is a guy he repatriated who immediately turned around and led a brutal guerrilla war against him. Ditto for Achebe, who started out as a refugee T'Challa granted asylum and mediately decided to become the local equivalent of the Joker.
No wonder T'Challa turned on Queen Divine Justice so fast!
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 31, 2016 1:39 PM
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