It's almost time. Black Panther is just under a month away from storming the box office and our hearts. T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) went through much of his origin story in the margins of Captain America: Civil War, but we have yet to see him in action as king. The nation of Wakanda will apparnetly play a huge role in Avengers: Infinity War (Is the Soul Stone out there?), but we have yet to explore its splendor.
Black Panther's legacy in Marvel Comics would be worth celebrating even if he wasn't about to take over the box office. He was one of the first popular Black superheroes in comics and has served on nearly every big Marvel team that isn't reserved for mutants. But did you know that he fought the Ku Klux Klan? Or that blowback relating to a certain political organization led to him changing his name for a while? Let's shed some light on the darker corners of Black Panther's history.
T'Challa is the king of Wakanda, but early in his tenure he came to the United States to fight the Klu Klux Klan. Writer Don McGregor - who was responsible for nudging T'Challa into the center spotlight in the first place - penned a story where T'Challa travels to Georgia to investigate the death of Angela Lynne, his then-girlfriend's sister at the hands of the Klan.
He gets strung up and hung on a cross by the Klan, but of course he breaks free and kicks every ass in his immediate proximity. The mystery of Lynne's death is solved and she's avenged, but a Black character going up against a real group like the KKK (especially considering that Marvel had changed his name due to sheepishness relating to the real Black Panthers) was a big deal, especially at the time. And speaking of the Black Panthers...
Black Panther almost entered the world of comic books with a different name. Creators Jack Kirby and Stane Lee originally toyed with naming him the Coal Tiger, which thankfully didn't stick. But when the Black Panther Party was starting to gain momentum in 1968, Marvel unofficially shortened the character's name to just "the Panther" around the time he joined The Avengers and temporarily abandoned his post as the king of Wakanda. In an effort to play it even safer, his name was changed again, this time to the Black Leopard due to the "political connotations" of his older name. Needless to say, they got over that and his original name came back.
King Solomon's Frogs are Wakandan relics that can manipulate time and space and used, but you're always rolling the dice on what will actually happen when you try. T'Challa has used them on multiple occasions, but none as deadly as a trip to the Skrull homeworld with the Fantastic Four that started in Black Panther Vol 4 #28. The frogs teleported he, Storm, The Thing, the Human Torch, and a beetle monster from the Baxter Building to alternate reality Skrull homeworld just in time for an invasion from the Galacti, a group of zombified Marvel heroes imbued with Galactus' Power Cosmic.
They spend three issues running from the Galacti - with help from the frogs and a Skrull version of the traditional Fantastic Four - but eventually die when the Galacti consume the whole planet and actually wind up in the afterlife, an gigantic X-Men orgy (really), and an alternate universe where they almost get gunned down by superpowered gangsters.
On top of their time and space travelling shenannigans, the frogs also literally split Black Panther in two, Superman-style. One was flung into the past and had an irrepressibly chipper attitude, being dubbed "Fruity Pebbles Panther" (aka Black Panther of Earth-1145). His counterpart was a more dour and serious Earth-616 Black Panther who ended up getting a severe beatdown at the hands of a mind-controlled Iron Fist that resulted in a brain aneurysm (Black Panther #39). Both regular and Fruity Pebbles Panther suffered from this aneurysm, but Earth-616 Panther had help from some Magneto hallucinations to convince him to abdacate his throne and recover in secret in New York while Kasper Cole took over the Wakandan throne.
Fruity Pebbles Panther dies from his wounds, but T'Challa eventually recovers just in time to become Black Panther again. And yes, we really have a Magneto hallucination to thank for the creation of the White Tiger. Sheesh.
The Black Panther is a position of royalty in Wakanda, one that can be lost easily. Imagine T'Challa's shock, then, when he was attacked by an actual black panther. It turns out the panther attack was planned by The Supremacists - a sect of superpowered white men from a white-only part of Africa called Anzania - who were organizing a Wakandan coup de tat. How's that for subtlety?
The Planet Hulk/World War Hulk storyline is a fan-favorite story for good reason, and it all started with a little group called The Illuminati. The supergroup - consisting of Marvel high minds Reed Richards, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt, Namor the Submariner, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and the Black Panther - formed initially to deal with the Skrull invasion of Secret Wars, but reconvened again when S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill gave them an ultimatum: find a solution for Hulk's destruction or suffer the consequences. Every member, including T'Challa and excluding Xavier and an unwilling Namor, voted to blast Hulk into space. Hulk's exile led to him becoming a gladiator on the planet Sakaar nd bringing some of his new friends to Earth to reek vengeance on the Illuminati.
Having to deal with Hulk while also being his friend has to be an exhausting experience, but launching him into space was about the worse thing all involved could do.