Welcome to Wakanda.
By now everyone should be on their way to see Black Panther in theaters now.
The Black Panther is one of Marvel’s oldest heroes — the first black hero in mainstream comic books and one of the industry’s most radical ever. It is the first mainstream Afro-futurism film to hit theaters ever. Now that the character is making his big-screen debut, now is a good time to go back and look at some of the Black Panther’s graphic novels. Here are the top three Black Panther’s graphic novels you can find anywhere books are sold.
Black Panther by Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection Vol. 2
Priest’s run opened in New York City, but Black Panther eventually made his way back to Wakanda, where he faced off against Erik Killmonger, a villain who’s as complex and tragic as any in the Marvel canon. By this point, Priest had established T’Challa as a brilliant, nearly unbeatable hero, so it’s saying something that “Killmonger’s Rage” successfully set its titular antagonist up as a worthy adversary, Black Panther’s physical and intellectual rival. Michael B. Jordan is playing Killmonger in the movie, and this is your best bet for prepping yourself on just what makes him such an intriguing foe.
Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther
Reginald Hudlin’s run is more traditionally superhero-esque in nature than many other titles on this list, featuring costumed villains and super guest stars like the X-Men and Namor. It also introduces a number of characters who’ve become key players in the Black Panther’s life (like his sister Shuri) and tells what has now become the definitive origin story. It’s a good entry point into the Black Panther’s world, and contains some great art by the reliably terrific superhero comic book legend John Romita Jr. If you’re completely unfamiliar with the Black Panther and are just looking for an introduction to Wakanda, this is for you.
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet – Book 1
Ta-Nehisi Coates was already on the shortlist for best living writers in America when it was announced that he’d be taking the reins of Black Panther, with art by the excellent Bryan Stelfreeze. It’s a more cerebral run, profoundly interested in politics, religion, history and, above all, the question of power: How do good people wield it without being corrupted by it? This is heady stuff, but it’s couched in a story of Wakandan insurrection and an attempt at a coup, which helps it go down easily. Coates’ run also makes wonderful use of the many women in T’Challa’s life — from his sister to his mother to his all-female royal guard, the Dora Milaje — giving them real characterization and utility outside of their connection to the book’s star.