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June 15, 2009

Comments

Z Ryan

"'Nuff said!" indeed! I've never so embraced that sentiment. Of course it's easy to embrace when they're endorsing MLK's dream.

This is one of the reasons I love the internet. Right now only my words are being considered, not my race.

John Nowak

Just to be contrary, I think it's fair to point out that exposing the lower half of Black Panther's face also makes it possible for him to show facial expressions.

zubzwank

Just for the record, Stan and Jack/Marvel introduced the 1st recurring black heroic character (who was not an offensive "comedic" racial stereotype like Ebony in The Spirit) before Dr. King's epochal speech.

At least, the first one I remember.

He was Gabriel "Gabe" Jones, the horn-playing Howler, in Sgt. Fury and The Howling Commandos #1 (May 1963).

Pat Curley

Stan was miles ahead of DC on the racial issues; if there were three cops in a scene, you could virtually guarantee that one would be black. You could call it tokenism, but let's face it, tokenism was a stage that had to be gotten through before you could have real black characters like T'Challa.

Kiteran

Why is it most of the early african american super hero had to be be "black" something. Seriously, it's just goofy.

As a kid when I collected the Avengers the inclusion of the black panther was awesome. He was a very mysterious character and had a very cool back story. And his costume may be simple but it just looked bad a#$. Cudos to Marvel! Black Panther being an Avenger was a win for fans of all colors.

PS: Great blog

Hube

Kit: Yes, but the Black Panther was certainly an exception to the need to add "Black" before the name. "Black Panther" actually makes sense. And you're right -- not only did he look bad-ass and have a great back story, but that back story was the antithesis of how most view Africa as a whole.

And Pat's dead-on too -- some of those early Panther appearance issues took racial issues head-on, a gutsy thing to do back in those days.

Mark Engblom

An interesting side note to the Black Panther's story is his brief name change in 1972. In order to avoid association with the militant Black Panthers organization, he temporarily went by the name "Black Leopard" (since panthers are, technically, leopards).

Hube

True, Mark! Wasn't that in a Thomas-Buscema issue of FF? Like, #120-something?

Mark Engblom

Very close, Hube! It was actually Fantastic Four #119...and as if T'Challa's new name wasn't controversial enough, the story itself dealt with African apartheid!

Tom Brevoort

It's worth noting that a close look at the Panther's earliest appearances in FANTASTIC FOUR show that his mask was originally designed to be open in the front, as was depicted in AVENGERS. and Kirby continued to draw it that way for years (such as in his one-panel cameo in FF #60.) But presumably fearing a boycott in Southern states or some such thing, Stan or Martin Goodman had the mask retouched into full coverage. So it's possible that, when bringing the Panther into AVENGERS, the issue had become a non-issue by this point, or John Buscema was working with outdated reference (Kirby's Panther masks were still being touched up in the Captain America story that set up the Panther's membership in teh Avengers), or Roy Thomas just preferred the look that way.

Tom B

Mark Engblom

Thanks for the insights, Tom! The additional information reveals yet another controversial facet of the character's history...and gives an alternate perspective on the Panther's open-mask.

Wow...it's not every day Marvel's Executive Editor stops by. Thanks, Tom!

Kandou Erik

I think there was also another element to that answer the school teacher recieved -- I doubt a letter's column answerer wants to say yes or not to that on the spot. They abviously took her request to heart - talked out it - and then brought Panther on-board.

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stephen

couldn't you play it off by saying that he needed to have his mouth exposed to better communicate with his team since he was used to working solo

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