Meet the Black Panthers of the Multiverse
Learn more about a few alternate incarnations of T’Challa before Vibranium Man debuts in 'Avengers Forever' #6.
T’Challa took the Marvel Universe by storm when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the Black Panther in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #52. However, over the past six decades, Marvel’s multiverse has revealed T’Challa’s destiny doesn’t always lie in Wakanda – and his story doesn’t always have a happy ending.
On Wednesday, June 1, Jason Aaron and Jim Towe will introduce a new version of T’Challa in the pages of AVENGERS FOREVER #6. Before we tell you what we know about Vibranium Man, though, let’s take a look back at some of the other incarnations of T’Challa we’ve encountered over the years.
One of Jack Kirby’s early designs for Black Panther was radically different from his final costume. That design also came with a different codename for T’Challa. In AVENGERS (1963) #355, readers met Coal Tiger, a refugee from an alternate world where there was no Black Panther nor even a Wakanda. Regardless, this T’Challa was still an honorable man.
The Gatherers rescued Coal Tiger from his doomed world and attempted to save his life at the expense of Black Panther’s existence. In issue #356, Coal Tiger refused to take part in their plans even though he knew it would cost him his only chance to live. The T’Challa of our world embraced his doppelganger as a hero and gave him a final resting place in Wakanda.
During INFINITY WARS (2018), Gamora did what Thanos could not. She used the Infinity Stones to cut the universe’s population in half without killing anyone. Instead, she merged everyone into someone else. In INFINITY WARS (2018) #3, Black Panther and Ghost Rider were combined into Ghost Panther.
Within the new combined timeline, “Johnny Blaze” was just an alias for T’Challa, who left Wakanda behind and became a stunt driver. When T’Challa died in an accident, the demonic Zarathos offered him the chance to return to life and avenge the murder of his father. Soon after, T’Challa became Ghost Panther, and he consumed the soul of his father’s killer.
The Warp world survived after INFINITY WARS (2018), but it was radically changed yet again in the SECRET WARPS storyline. Within SECRET WARPS: ARACHKNIGHT ANNUAL #1, Ghost Panther and Stark Odinson (the combination of Tony Stark and Thor) were merged into T’Challa Odinson’s new alter ego: Ghost Hammer. Consequently, Ghost Hammer’s new uniform borrowed elements from Iron Man, Ghost Rider, Thor, and Black Panther.
Zombie Black Panther
Black Panther was one of the few heroes who emerged from MARVEL ZOMBIES (2005) without being transformed into a zombie himself. However, he wasn’t as lucky in MARVEL ZOMBIES 2 (2007) #1. T’Challa was fatally wounded by an assassin, and zombie Wasp realized the only way to save the Black Panther was to infect him with the same virus that had changed her.
Despite becoming a zombie, Black Panther continued to defend his people against the malevolent Galactus-empowered zombies until he was exiled to another universe. Even in MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN, T’Challa still fought for justice before his untimely end.
Ultimate Black Panther
The Ultimate Marvel Universe featured a very different take on T’Challa’s origin story. As related in ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL (2008) #1, T’Challa failed to pass the Black Panther trials in Wakanda and he suffered near fatal injuries. To save his life, T’Challa’s family allowed him to be taken by Weapon X, the same organization that created Wolverine. As a result, T’Challa received artificial claws and other enhancements.
Black Panther was later freed from Weapon X’s influence by Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. However, Fury didn’t allow T’Challa to return home. Out of respect for a fellow warrior, Captain America took Black Panther’s place and let him go back to Wakanda.
Earth X Black Panther
Black Panther’s counterpart in EARTH X was very similar to the original T’Challa. He even married Storm years before she and T’Challa exchanged vows in the main Marvel Universe. The key difference between the two Black Panthers showed itself when humanity at large was mutated by the Terrigen Mists. T’Challa transformed into a humanoid panther, and many of his countrymen were also changed into human-animal hybrids. T’Challa took this as a sign that the transformations were the will of Wakanda’s gods.
SECRET WARS (2015) revealed previously unseen timelines in the Marvel multiverse where major events played out differently. In SPIDER-ISLAND (2015), readers discovered a world where heroes, villains, and ordinary people remained mutated with Spider-Man-like abilities. Spider-T’Challa made his debut in SPIDER-ISLAND (2015) #2, and he had six arms to go along with his additional spider powers.
AVENGERS FOREVER (2021) #6 will introduce yet another version of T’Challa. In this timeline, Killmonger used the Asgardian Destroyer armor to lay waste to Wakanda. With his access to the Black Panther legacy forever shattered, T’Challa will take up the mantle of Vibranium Man to avenge his family and his country – and T’Challa’s Vibranium Man armor has some features that may put Iron Man to shame.
Witness the birth of a new hero when T'Challa becomes Vibranium Man in AVENGERS FOREVER #6, on sale June 1.
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