In mere days, Black Panther, a long-standing Marvel hero, will fight across cinema screens all over the country in his own movie for the first time. If early reviews are right, the movie will be a huge success for Marvel, Disney, and — we hope — the comic book that this whole thing is based on. Black Panther is a fascinating character on a number of levels. From the powerful associations with the character’s name to its legacy as a groundbreaking fictional human.
After the movie blows your mind, check out these five Black Panther stories
(plus a bonus one!) that’ll blow whatever bits of your mind that are left.
Black Panther: Panther’s Rage
Written by Don McGregor
Pencilled by Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, and Billy Graham
Inked by Klaus Janson, P. Craig Russell, and Bob McLeod
Colored by Glynis Wein
Arguably the best Black Panther story ever told, Panther’s Rage is a brutal tale that takes readers all over Wakanda. Panther faces off against Killmonger but also survives leopards, wolves, and the elements. Originally published in Jungle Action, Panther’s Rage elevated the comic book game by creating characters, both heroes, and villains, who were deeply conflicted. At times, good characters become self-serving simply because of succumbing to human flaws like jealousy. Panther’s Rage features a structure that makes it accessible and deep. Each story, in some ways, exist on their own, but contribute to the greater whole, and enrich Wakanda in ways many stories fail to do.
Who Is Black Panther?
Written by Reginald Hudlin
Illustrated by John Romita, Klaus Janson, Dean White
This six-issue series has its ups and downs along the way. But overall, there is no better place than here to understand Black Panther as a character. Filmmaker Reginald Hudlin (Boomerang, House Party) took the reigns of the book here with the focus of reintroducing the concept of the Panther to 00s readers. Who is Black Panther? takes us through the rich lineage of the mantle. It adds a lot of gravitas to the responsibility that weighs on the person in charge of carrying on the legacy. I’d hate to be T’Challa’s kids, because it’s A LOT of pressure. Fortunately, comic book characters basically live forever and their kids mostly stay kids.
Black Panther: Secret Invasion
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Jefte Palo
Like Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals, Wakanda is undefeated when it comes to being invaded. No foreign power has ever planted their flag on Wakandan soil. But, OH NOES! Here come the Skrull to challenge the African nation. Short-but-sweet, Secret Invasion is an epic action movie that really needs to be included in the movie series as soon as possible. There’s no deep, introspective story here and things are fairly straightforward. The Wakandans are under threat and Panther leads his army into a brutal battle. How brutal? The vicious fight sees heads and limbs flying all over the place.
Black Panther by Jack Kirby
Written and Illustrated by Jack Kirby
Any self-respecting comic book fan knows the name Jack “King” Kirby. The legendary creator has a history thick with incredible sequential artwork. Kirby’s story in comics also has plenty of drama worthy of a movie. Kirby is behind some of the greatest creations in comic book history. After a breakup with Marvel and a stint at DC, Kirby returned to draw a write a few titles, one of those being Black Panther. Kirby’s stories are weird AF, but they are beautifully drawn as only “the King” can do.
Black Panther: The Complete Collection of Christopher Priest (yeah, all of it!)
Written by Christopher Priest
Illustrated by Mark Texeira, Vince Evans, Joe Jusko, Mike Manley, Mark Bright, Sal Velluto
Yes, it’s a lot. Priest wrote for T’Challa for six years. But this run of Black Panther is undoubtedly one of the best the character has ever had. According to the star of the new film, Chadwick Boseman, this is the run that inspired the character he portrays. Priest addressed the Panther in an entirely new way. Instead of a mere superhero, Priest viewed T’Challa as the king he is and really played with that great responsibility as ruler of Wakanda.
BONUS: A Nation Under Our Feet
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Pencils by Brian Stelfreeze
Inks by Brian Stelfreeze
Colorists by Laura Martin
Letterers by Joe Sabino
Edited by Wil Moss, Chris Robinson, and Tom Brevoort
Black Panther’s modern adventures have him facing an uprising in Wakanda. Written by best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates, the story is elevated by the incredible work of Brian Stelfreeze. Together, this dynamic duo, along with the rest of the creative team, have a story that’s ripping Panther’s country apart. The People are threatening the future of Wakanda, and Panther must survive the changes by becoming something greater than a weapon — a leader.