In The Comics Books
Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966, and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The character was the first black superhero in mainstream comic books in the United States. He hails from the fictional African nation of Wakanda, which is home to a number of tribes. The title of Black Panther is given to the chief of those Wakandan tribes – and it’s therefore a mantle that is both inherited, and earned.
The Black Panther identity is achieved by eating a heart-shaped herb that’s unique to Wakanda and creates a connection between the consumer and the Wakandan deity – the Panther God. This provides enhanced powers and abilities, including speed, strength, agility, stamina, healing and highly acute senses. When T’Challa is Black Panther, he also has use of a suit made from material combined with Vibranium – which makes him almost impervious to damage.
T’Chaka was King of Wakanda, and holder of the Black Panther title. He was murdered, though, by Ulysses Klaw, while the villain attempted to exploit the Wakandan nation for a specific, unique resource. In generations past, the substance known as Vibranium was deposited in Wakanda by a crashing meteorite, and it’s this substance that led to the nation of Wakanda being both advanced, and necessarily hidden from the rest of the world.
Vibranium is a mineral that absorbs energy and becomes stronger as a result – which is why this substance was used to make Captain America’s shield. Ulysses Klaw sought the material for nefarious purposes, though, and killed King T’Chaka to get it. This left his son, T’Challa – one of the most intelligent people on the planet – to become the new leader of Wakanda, and holder of the Black Panther title.
But, since the title must also be earned, T’Challa’s uncle – S’yan – filled the role while T’Challa undertook his trials and rites of passage. It was during this process that T’Challa met and became enamoured of Ororo Munroe – also known as Storm of the X-Men.
Their relationship was complicated and ultimately ended by T’Challa’s determination to assume the Black Panther mantle and avenge his father’s death, and the young man becomes involved with, variously, the work of Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers. When he finally returns to Wakanda, he finds a nation on the verge of civil war, and the villainous Erik Killmonger trying to seize power. T’Challa successfully defeats him though and sets forth on decades of excellent storylines.