The 6 Best Comics To Read Before Black Panther's Release
By Meg Downey on
Where to start on Black Panther
As February 16th creeps closer and closer, the time to do some serious preparation for the release of Black Panther is upon us. But if you're new to the world of Wakanda, that might be a little easier said than done.
Introduced all the way back in 1966, the continuity of the Black Panther can be dense and daunting. Unlike Marvel's roster of New York based heroes, T'Challa comes with the history of an entire fictional nation at his back, informing just about every aspect of his character, from the legacy of the Black Panther mantle to the politics of his kingdom. Put bluntly, there's a lot more to T'Challa than a cool costume and fancy vibranium claws.
But never fear--we've got a list of some great places to start your Wakandan deep dive right here.
6. Black Panther by Christopher Priest
Officially known as Black Panther volume 3, writer Christopher Priest's late '90s stint on the book featured a revolving cast of artists and colorists as part of the more "adult" focused Marvel Knights imprint. With his trademark fast-paced, nonlinear style, Priest revolutionized the way modern audiences saw and understood T'Challa, introducing concepts like the Dora Milaje--T'Challa's highly trained group of female bodyguards--to the mythos.
Featuring a roster of characters you may already recognize from the MCU, like Everett Ross (though a very different Everett Ross than the one you've seen on the big screen played by Martin Freeman), the influence of Black Panther volume 3 on the upcoming film is undeniable. It's a long read--pushing into sixty issues in total--but well worth it if you're ready to take the plunge. If you're looking for the cliffnotes, the "Killmonger's Rage" story in issues #16 through #20 might prove particularly relevant.
5. Who Is The Black Panther?
The first arc of Black Panther volume 4, written by Reginald Hudlin and drawn by comics legend John Romita Jr, "Who Is The Black Panther" is a six issue story (issues #1 through #6, exactly) that serves as both an origin of T'Challa and as a historical text for Wakanda as a whole.
"Who Is The Black Panther?" a fantastic primer for the legacy of the Black Panther mantle, as well as a close look at Ulysses Klaw, who is set to be one of the film's big bads (played by Andy Serkis in a rare non-motion captured role). It's a quick, self-contained read that will give you exactly what you need to know about Wakanda, as well as prep you for some potential easter egg spotting come February.
4. Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The most recent (and currently ongoing) Black Panther series has proven to be not only a critical darling, but a far-reaching look at Wakandan continuity both old and new. This volume of Black Panther is your one stop shop for all the most current T'Challa stories, ongoing each month.
Praised for its attention to character detail as well as its seamless integration of real world social issues, this is a version of T'Challa that is being informed by the world around him in real time, and unequivocally the place you'll want to go if you're looking for sleek, modern, fast-paced storytelling that doesn't skimp on complexity or nuance.
3. Rise of the Black Panther
A new entry into the Black Panther canon, Rise of the Black Panther #1 just dropped earlier this month, so this is one you'll actually have to subscribe to and wait for as it progresses. That's the bad news. The good news is that this is a book designed specifically to ease new readers into even the most dense parts of Wakandan society and history, bit by bit. It's a dense read, but one that's thorough without bringing too many walls of text or impenetrably complicated references. You'll even catch references in issue #1 to other stories on this list if you're a fan of figuring out how different works relate to one another.
If you're looking to become a Black Panther expert but not to commit to a full sixty-plus issue back catalogue, this is a great place to start--and a great way to support a comic currently in production.
2. New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman
Otherwise known as New Avengers volume 3, this is where you can look for potential Infinity War tie-ins with Black Panther. Not only does it center around T'Challa and his team of Avengers, it dives directly into one of the most recent Infinity Stone conflicts in Marvel Comics continuity. This is as much a high-flying superhero book as it is a cloak-and-dagger spy epic, revolving around the sudden and urgent need for the Avengers to stop Thanos and his Black Order before they can bring an end to all reality.
Sound a little familiar? It's still too early to tell just how much of Infinity War will borrow from New Avengers, or the Infinity crossover event it builds into, but if you're someone who likes to connect dots between MCU movies, this will be a great place to focus leading up to February and beyond.
1. Black Panther and The Crew
If you're looking for more team book flavor but are feeling a little wary of jumping directly into something as lengthy as New Avengers, look no further than Black Panther and The Crew, an offshoot of the current Black Panther ongoing, by creators Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey.
Focusing on T'Challa, Storm, Luke Cage, and Misty Knight, Black Panther and The Crew brings street level super heroics and real world activism together in a potent blend of action and drama, digging deep into the history of the Marvel Universe in a new and powerful way. Lasting six issues, this is the book you'll want to read if you're a fan of the Netflix MCU looking to make the jump to comics as you gear up for T'challa on the big screen.