Blessed by Bast. Ruler of Wakanda. Heir of the Black Panther Clan. T’Challa, son of T’Chaka, brother of Shuri, step-son of Ramonda is all this and so much more. Leading the most advanced nation on Earth, one of the smartest people alive, one of the finest masters of combat to ever exist, T’Challa and his homeland of Wakanda have so much history. Let’s get to it!
The nation of Wakanda began roughly ten thousand years when the first Black Panther took on the mantle as the leader and defender of their country. A meteorite of a kinetic energy absorbing metal, Vibranium landed in Wakanda and with this the people were able to develop technology many years if not decades ahead of the rest of human civilization.
In the many millenia since Wakanda’s founding, it has never been conquered by outside forces. Many have tried. All have failed and suffered the consequences. This lead to Wakanda staying withdrawn from the rest of the world. Hiding in plain sight with all its marvels locked away from the rest of humanity.
Separating themselves into different clans with the Black Panther Clan, worshiping the panther god Bast, being the most dominant. The Panther Clan have a rivalry with the White Gorilla Clan. While the Black Panther gains part of their power from a heart-shaped herb, the White Gorilla gains its from eating the flesh of actual white gorillas. There’s a reason they are rivals and not in charge.
Other clans have existed but lost favor and many members would go on to join the Panther Cult. The Lion Cult’s god, Sekhmet, is still respected by the Panther Cult in their own worship. In the end, the Panther Cult reigns supreme with the White Gorilla Cult showing up every now and then to attempt a take over of Wakanda. Thankfully, a Black Panther always stands to keep the nation and its people safe. T’Challa’s grandfather, Chanda, faced off against Captain America, Steve Rogers, during World War II. Chanda sent the knocked out Rogers back to America with the equivalent of “Nice try.” to be delivered to the U.S. and rest of the outside world.
Wakanda is a nation of reclusive geniuses, while the rest of the world was figuring out black powder, they’d built their own variant of the gatling gun using spears. When computers were still using punch cards, they were experiencing a level of technology the rest of us have today. T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father, found the rest of the world in want when they begged him to share their technological wonders. Finding a sickening hypocrisy in a world that wants medical advancements but exploits its people and drugs them with things like carcinogens and hate. This would prove to be a dangerous move for T’Chaka.
T’Challa is the first born biological son of T’Chaka and N’Yami, the King and Queen of Wakanda. Sadly, N’Yami would die in childbirth with T’Challa. He would be raised among his adoptive and half-siblings. T’Chaka’s dismissal of the corrupt corporations would prove fatal. Those very corporations would sent assassin, Ulysses Klaw, to kill T’Chaka and his whole family. While successful in killing T’Chaka, he was no match for the young T’Challa who stopped him and took one of his hands as well. While T’Challa was still only a teen, his uncle S’Yan would take over until T’Challa was ready.
Part of his rite to become an adult included going into the wilderness to survive. Unfortunately, kidnappers were looming, ready to take the man who would be king. Saved by the white haired mutant who could control the weather, Ororo Munroe (who would grow up to become a leader of the X-Men.) The two would become very close and care for each other deeply, but T’Challa’s responsibility to become the Black Panther took them on separate paths.
To further his understanding of the world, T’Challa would travel to the Americas and Europe to study Physics where he’d get a PhD at Oxford University. Finally returning home, he would face off with his uncle, as was tradition, for the mantle of Black Panther. His uncle, the rest of the family, and the people of Wakanda were proud to have T’Challa as the rightful heir. His radical views were to bring Wakanda to the rest of the world. He’d shut down the Wakanda secret police and fight off those who would have him killed to take the throne for themselves, this included White Gorilla Cultists. By selling some small samples of Vibranium to universities for research, he was able to avast a fortune the already wealthy Wakanda had not seen before.
Finding himself in a world of new heroes, T’Challa would invite the Fantastic Four family over, first to test them in combat (which he beat all of them easily) and then worked with them to fight off villains. Teaming up with Captain America would get him invited to join the Avengers. Accepting, T’Challa was seen as a very world focused ruler as Wakanda was so used to being alone in the world and now were dealing with constant new and strange visitors their king would bring in or be attacked by.
His time serving with the Avengers would bring even more usurpers to the throne, on such individual was M’Baku, who would betray the Black Panther Clan to join the White Gorilla Clan as their champion and defender, Man-Ape. The two greatest warriors of Wakanda would do battle as well as their armies. Things would get so dangerous the Avengers would come to help. M’Baku would die in his desire to destroy the statue of Bast to show who was in charge.
Traveling back to New York City, T’Challa would take up residence under the guise of Luke Charles to escape the fame of his kingly status. Here he would deduce the identity of and befriend Daredevil. He would also find a romance with politically minded singer, Monica Lynne who would get him involved with stopping the white supremacist plot of the Sons of the Serpent organization. This would be drawn out with the Sons framing Black Panther for crimes to increase racial tensions to cause a race war to occur. T’Challa would be able to clear his name and stop the Sons from creating race riots.
Back home, Doctor Doom would try to steal Vibranium from Wakanda. Learning of this, the people cried for T’Challa to return and he did. Along with several of his Fantastic Four and Avengers friends. The team would take on Doom and keep him from getting any Vibranium, Doom’s drilling devices were also causing quakes in Wakanda that had to be repaired. This would not be the last time the leader of Latveria and the leader of Wakanda would face off.
Finding he has spent too long away from Wakanda, T’Challa decides to return full-time to rule and watch over his kingdom. Erik Killmonger, former exile of Wakanda, would be there to greet him by sowing chaos surrounding Wakanda. Killmonger would destabilize the Wakanda government as well as its economy, leaving it to need help from Tony Stark, Iron Man, to keep Wakanda from going bankrupt. Eventually T’Challa and Killmonger would fight for the title of Black Panther and T’Challa would lose the mantle and nearly his life.
Taken in by Brother Voodoo and Moon Knight to be doctored back to full health, T’Challa would learn that Killmonger was now not only the Black Panther, but trying to take his position in the Avengers. This new, false Black Panther would not last when a group of mercenaries would attack Wakanda to the point where the Avengers were called in to assist. After the smoke cleared, Killmonger was dead and T’Challa earned his place back as king.
There’s way more to the tale of the Black Panther that we haven’t even touched yet. His sister Shuri hasn’t even donned the mantle yet. We still have the King of the Dead and many more dangers threatening Wakanda to cover! That’s for next time! See you then!
Fantastic Four #52
Jungle Action Vol. 2
(Reginald Hudlin run is a great retelling of the beginnings of T’Challa)
(Currently the entire run of Christopher Priest’s has been collected in several volumes, highly recommended)
(Current run that just started written by Ta-Nesihi Coates)
Black Panther the Animated Series
Captain America: Civil War