T’Challa embarks upon a dangerous quest to locate his lost mother!

For more than 50 years, the Black Panther has stood at the forefront on the Marvel Universe. With T’Challa appearing on the big screen again this year in both Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” take a look back at over five decades worth of comic book adventures for the King of Wakanda!

The big “Panther’s Quest” storyline kicked off as T’Challa began a search for his lost mother in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #13, which led him to the South African nation of Pretoria and a man named Patrick Slade. Mercenaries under the command of Elmer Gore attacked the two men in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #14, and while the Panther battled them, Slade escaped on his own.

A bruised and bloodied Black Panther met a miner called Zanti who tried to help the hero back to his solar glider in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #16. Corrupt government official Pretorius turned the country against T’Challa in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #18, while the Panther and Zanti recovered the glider and returned to town to discover soldiers tear gassing citizens in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #19.

T’Challa took a bullet after rescuing a young boy named Theodore in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #20 and then escaped back to his craft in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #23. With all of Pretoria out for his head, the Black Panther reunited with Zanti to seek out a possible ally called Moshigo, but anti-apartheid group the Comrads attacked in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #25, complicating matters.

Young Theodore rushed to T’Challa’s aid in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #27 when the Comrads tried to set Moshigo’s house on fire, but the boy died in the process even after the hero ran him to a hospital for his extensive burns in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #28. The Panther discovered his mother’s name, Ramonda, in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #29, and realized Gore’s mercenaries paid Slade to keep the information to himself. Later, Gore killed Slade.

After receiving a letter from Ramonda in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #31 urging him to stay away, T’Challa linked Gore and his mercenaries to Pretorius and the government and escaped in his glider in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #34 with a wounded Zanti’s invaluable help.

At Pretorius’ mansion, the Black Panther saw his mother in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #36, and then fought Gore to the death. Ramonda told her story of being held prisoner by Pretorius in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #37 and the Black Panther spirited her away back to Wakanda.

T’Challa rejoined Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in AVENGERS #305 to bolster their ranks against the Lava Men. In AVENGERS #307, ally Gilgamesh fell in battle against the Lava Men priest Jinku and his Avatar, so the Panther and his teammates called upon the Eternals in AVENGERS #308 to come to the ancient hero’s rescue. Later, in SOLO AVENGERS #19, the Black Panther joined with an old college friend, Philip Whitehead, to confront a dangerous occult creature.

Mubaru, a Wakandan royal cabinet member, made a failed attempt on his sovereign T’Challa’s life in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #1, as well as to steal vibranium by mining it from below the country’s sacred vein of the rare metal.

Returning to Wakanda, the Panther faced off against Solomon Prey’s agents in BLACK PANTHER: PANTHER’S PREY #1, and then with the winged, taloned man himself in BLACK PANTHER: PANTHER’S PREY #2.

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Logan makes a surprise entrance in this game-changing 90's classic!

It’s time to face facts, true believers – the 90’s were awesome. The pouches were plentiful, the costumes were impractical, and Marvel Universe dentists made a fortune correcting damages caused by perpetually gritted teeth. Thanks to the power of nostalgia, though, what would once be considered extremely embarrassing can now be called extremely awesome!

With that in mind, we’ve pulled a Marvel comic from the not-so-modern era and broken it down, one radical fact at a time! This week we’re singling out MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #79 and #80 by Barry Windsor-Smith. Here’s “Weapon X” by the numbers!

Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #79

Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #79

What is Marvel Unlimited?

67 lights and buttons on 3 battery packs

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #79

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #79

 

8 guards lining up to take on Logan

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #80

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #80

 

6 monitors in the Weapon X control rooms

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #79

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #79

 

5 wires on Logan’s Weapon X gear

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #79

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #79

 

3 sliced guards

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #80

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #80

 

2 shots fired

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #80

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #80

 

1 surprise entrance

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #80

Art from Marvel Comics Presents #80

Witness Wolverine’s last days in DEATH OF WOLVERINE!

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The Heroes for Hire pursue solo paths before reuniting at the close of the century!

In the 1970’s, Luke Cage—later Power Man—and Iron Fist represented attempts to create heroes rooted in real world trends, exploring the idea of street level adventures and the martial arts in the Marvel Universe. The two would form an unlikely but enduring team as the original Heroes for Hire.

With Luke Cage and Iron Fist firmly entrenched in the modern day as among Marvel’s most complex and popular characters and both headed to television on Netflix, we look back at their respective and shared histories as we continue to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Marvel!

Luke Cage thought he’d go it alone after the seeming death of his best friend, Iron Fist, but once Danny Rand returned to the land of the living, a full-blown Heroes for Hire reunion became inevitable.

Cage #1 cover

Cage #1 cover

Cage abandoned his Power Man moniker after Danny’s death and set up shop in Chicago in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #82. While he kept busy handling drug dealers in PUNISHER #60-62, the Sub-Mariner discovered Iron Fist alive but in a form of H’ylthri hibernation in NAMOR THE SUB-MARINER #22, and freed Rand to recover his lost life.

In CAGE #1, Luke joined with private eye Dakota North to form a new partnership, with their first challenge popping up in CAGE #2: a team of super villains known as the Untouchables. Iron Fist also tried solo adventuring in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #111, first against living mummies, then later joining with Ghost Rider to confront the Legion of Vengeance in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #113-116.

Cage #12 cover

Cage #12 cover

The former Power Man gained even more power in CAGE #6, thanks to the same process that originally granted him his abilities. That augmented strength came in handy when Luke went up against the Maggia and the criminal Hardcore beginning in CAGE #7. Still on his own, Danny battled HYDRA and Skeleton Ki in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #125, which led to a battle with the legendary Baron Strucker in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #130 and a rematch with his old foe Sabretooth in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #133.

Luke Cage’s big reunion with Iron Fist came about in CAGE #12, when Hardcore seized both Luke’s father James and his brother. Then, the evil Dr. Malus transformed James Jr. into the villainous Coldfire in CAGE #13, but he came around in CAGE #14 to become an ally. After being possessed by the weird Bogeyman in CAGE #18, Luke found the will to resist the creature and defeat him with the help of the Thing and the Human Torch in CAGE #20.

Heroes for Hire (1996) #1 cover

Heroes for Hire (1996) #1 cover

While Iron Fist aided a certain web-slinger in SPIDER-MAN #41-43, Cage joined with Dr. Druid and friends in SECRET DEFENDERS #15 versus Malachai. When Luke later left the team, Danny temporarily took his spot in SECRET DEFENDERS #18. The two heroes came together once more in SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #13 to assist the wall-crawler in fighting the Scorpion and the Rhino, and Iron Fist found himself challenged by the Steel Serpent again in IRON FIST #1-2.

When Namor’s company Oracle, Inc, formed a new Heroes for Hire in HEROES FOR HIRE #1, Danny Rand joined to represent the previous incarnation. The Master kidnapped Luke Cage in HEROES FOR HIRE #2 and enlisted him to spy on the team for him. When the Controller subjugated Iron Fist, he pitted the martial artist against his best friend in HEROES FOR HIRE #4, but Danny regained his independence only to stalk off in anger in HEROES FOR HIRE #7. The Master suggested Iron Fist’s elimination to Luke in HEROES FOR HIRE #10, but Cage turned on the villain in HEROES FOR HIRE #12. Iron Fist took a break from the team in HEROES FOR HIRE #13 to go off on another solo adventure in IRON FIST #1. Danny reunited with his half-sister in IRON FIST #2, and together they destroyed the menacing H’ylthri in IRON FIST #3.

Heroes for Hire (1996) #17 cover

Heroes for Hire (1996) #17 cover

After an adventure in far-off Wundagore, Luke Cage took She-Hulk on a date in HEROES FOR HIRE #17 to convince her of the merits of ex-cons, but all together the status of the team looked bleak when the Stark-Fujikawa corporation bought Oracle, Inc, and required changes to the roster. Cage and Iron Fist, along with the others, decided to walk in HEROES FOR HIRE #19, turning their backs on their pasts and stepping out into an uncertain future.

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Don McGregor covers his 1980's work on T'Challa, tackling apartheid and much more!

Pick up the Path of the Black Panther retrospective with part one, chronicling T’Challa’s formative appearances and seminal 1970’s adventures…


The Panther Never Sleeps

After 24 issues total, JUNGLE ACTION came to an end, but with Jack Kirby’s return to Marvel in 1977, the Black Panther wouldn’t stay at rest for long.

BLACK PANTHER #1 gifted T’Challa with his first series under his known name, kicking off one of the wildest Panther tales to date. After Kirby’s departure from the title, writer Ed Hannigan took over the narrative, which continued into MARVEL PREMIERE. A four-issue BLACK PANTHER limited-series followed in 1988, by Peter B. Gillis and artist Denys Cowan.

McGregor Returns

One year after the limited-series, in 1989, writer Don McGregor made a new trek to Wakanda to revisit old friends and see what they might be up to since his legendary JUNGLE ACTION run a decade before. The result became “Panther’s Quest,” beginning in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #13.

“[If you ask me what I’m proud of] I guess I feel proud of ‘Panther’s Quest’ for what we did, when we did it,” he says. “‘When’ being the important word. At the time, in the mid-80’s, there were few stories being done about apartheid and South Africa. It was [editor] Michael Higgins who first called me in the mid-80’s about coming back to write the Panther and Killraven. Michael took me to dinner a number of times.

“I was resistant to coming back to do T’Challa again because, along with the exhilaration that came with doing those books, there were so many scarred wounds as memories.  Some people think I wanted to fight every issue. No, I didn’t. Yes, I fought for the books the best I could; and I believed the fight was worth the stand. And yes, I was probably particularly naïve. [In 1989] I was older now, and I had seen how the business worked, and I did not want to expend the energy fighting, with all the negative impact that has.

Marvel Comics Presents art by Gene Colan

Marvel Comics Presents art by Gene Colan

“After a number of discussions I agreed to do the final Killraven. Michael and I had discussed it over a couple of months. As soon as I told Michael that I would write it if Craig Russell was drawing it, he said, ‘Great! And we’re doing the Panther, too!’ And I went into my usual litany of why I loved the character but no, I did not want to fight with everyone over every issue. This time, though, I added a line about having this idea I had always wanted to do about the Panther searching for his mother in South Africa.

‘Okay, we’ll do it!’

‘No, Michael. This isn’t going to be the kind of story where a super hero goes in and solves apartheid. It’s not what I have in mind at all.’

‘Not a problem, Don,’ Michael assured me. [And so,] Michael Higgins convinced me to do the Panther. He called me about midnight, on the day I was working on the first pages of the script.

‘I’m off MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS, Don. I’m not editing the book,’ he told me.

I was positive he was joking, that he was getting back at me because I’d taken so long to agree to come back to the Panther. ‘Get out of here, Michael! You’re not going to sucker me into buying this.’ Michael was telling the truth.

“I called Tom DeFalco, who was Editor-In-Chief at that time, to inquire about what was happening, and where that left this series I had just begun. He said it didn’t matter who the editor was. I insisted that it was to me, and I had to meet with whoever the new editor was. I met Terry Kavanagh for the first time, and we went to have lunch at a fabulous place called The Sumptuary. By the end of that lunch, I knew I had an editor who believed in what I wanted to do, believed in me as a story-teller. Terry backed me on ‘Panther’s Quest,’ every step of the way. I know he took a lot of heat as the series progressed. Terry Kavanagh kept his word to me on every book we did together, and I treasured working with him.

Marvel Comics Presents art by Gene Colan

Marvel Comics Presents art by Gene Colan

“Comics are normally set in cement that dries quickly. Whatever the format of the month is, it is basically unbreakable. MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS had started doing eight or 10-part stories, at eight pages an installment. When ‘Panther’s Quest’ was at 10 or more, Terry told me every editorial meeting they were on him about how many chapters it would be. I came up with 25 off the top of my head. I had no idea how long the story would be. I was still researching apartheid, and trying to include as many facets of what was happening there at that time into the series.

“I spent a lot of time at the Shomberg Museum up in Harlem. The staffs were really helpful in getting me material, articles and photos. Some asked, ‘Are you really doing this for Marvel Comics? This is going to appear in a Marvel Comic?’

‘I’m going to write it. If you see it, then they did.’ That was the only answer I had.

“This was definitely worth the doing, and with people who believed in it. It was by chance that Gene Colan came to draw ‘Panther’s Quest’ when I came back to Marvel after Nathaniel Dusk [at DC]. In fact, Gene wasn’t going to be able to start drawing it for awhile when we first talked about it, but then a series at DC fell through, and he needed pages within two days. I had just figured out why the Panther’s mother had disappeared, and what was going on in South Africa, and now I had to create pages for Gene to draw in two days! While I had the flu!

“When people ask me about Marvel collecting the Panther books, I wish they would do this one. It is in 25 issues of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS, which probably was the only way I would have been allowed to write a series dealing with apartheid in that time period, since they did not have to cover-feature the subject matter.”

McGregor’s time with the Black Panther didn’t end with “Panther’s Quest.” The writer returned once more to helm the 1991 BLACK PANTHER: PANTHER’S PREY four-issue limited series, with artist Dwayne Turner.

Black Panther: Panther's Prey #3 cover by Dwayne Turner

Black Panther: Panther’s Prey #3 cover by Dwayne Turner

“When Gene could not draw PANTHER’S PREY, I started seeking an artist,” he notes. “I was at the Xerox machine after the normal work hours, and Chris Ivy came up and asked if I was going to use Dwayne Turner for the series, and that the Panther was his favorite character. I made one of the wisest artist decisions I ever made when I chose Dwayne. My feeling was I would rather have an artist who was starting out rather than a more established one for whom this would just be another gig. I had a great time working with Dwayne, and we became good friends during the daily effort to bring this to life.

“My favorite sequence in that series is the third issue, with Monica Lynne. By all rights I should not have done such an extensive sequence on her life after ‘Panther’s Rage,’ but it was one I thought was most effective. Coupled with the last half of that book, where T’Challa and Monica discuss all the reasons they should not have sex, I cherish the intimacy of the scene between the two, and the palpable sense of lust and love they have for each other.

“When I was writing the stories, it was important to me that they were the best comics I could do. I worked hard on them; I cared passionately about them.”

The story of the Black Panther continues later this week on Marvel.com, as the character pushes into the 1990’s! Visit marvel.com/75 for more Marvel 75th anniversary content and join the conversation on Twitter using #Marvel75

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