Friday

OMU: Power Man -- Year Two

Luke Cage starts going up against bona fide costumed supervillains during the next twelve months of his life, kicking off a new phase in his career with no less than Doctor Doom. He also begins to get to know some of New York’s other superheroes, such as the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and Iron Man. It should come as no surprise, then, that his series is soon rebranded from Luke Cage, Hero for Hire to Power Man, signaling a move toward more standard (and less lethal) superhero action. It’s striking how many of Luke’s foes wind up dead by the end of these stories, which really limits his rogues’ gallery to a series of one-and-done villains.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale). Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Now continuing… The True History of Luke Cage, Power Man!


January 1966 – Luke Cage is ringing in the New Year with David “D.W.” Griffith in his office above the Gem Theater on W. 42nd St. in Manhattan when he spots the Fantastic Four flying past his window. Luke jokes that the world-famous superheroes didn’t stop to get his autograph. In the morning, Luke learns that the Thing’s girlfriend, Alicia Masters, was kidnapped during the festivities in Times Square by a mystery woman called Thundra in order to draw the Thing into a grudge match at Shea Stadium. Like most New Yorkers, Luke eagerly awaits the “battle of the sexes” and is disappointed a few days later when the bout ends inconclusively. True to her word, Thundra releases Alicia unharmed afterwards.

While pursuing leads on the two-month-old murder of Frank Jenks, Luke makes time to see Dr. Claire Temple, now his lover. They often hook up at the neighborhood clinic Claire runs with Dr. Noah Burstein, the man responsible for Luke’s superhuman powers. One day, a nattily attired white man offers Luke $200 a day to track down four men who have stolen company secrets from his anonymous employer. When he hears that the four men are hiding out in the predominantly black neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, Luke realizes he is being offered the job because he is black. Even so, he accepts, thinking it will be good money for easy work. However, when he tracks down the culprits several hours later, Luke discovers that they are actually robots. He manages to destroy one of the robots, but the others escape into the night. Determined to find out what’s really going on, Luke tracks the man who hired him to the Latverian embassy, where he comes face to face with the infamous supervillain Doctor Doom. The armored tyrant convinces Luke that the case he was hired for is legit: since there are no black people living in his kingdom, Doom needed to hire a black New Yorker to track down the renegade robots, preferably one with superhuman abilities—ergo, Luke Cage is the right man for the job. Despite his misgivings, Luke returns to Bedford-Stuyvesant, where he is ambushed by the three remaining robots. After smashing them all to pieces, Luke heads back to the Latverian embassy to collect his fee. He becomes enraged when the doorman insists that Doctor Doom has left the country in order to cheat him of his earnings.

Intent on collecting his $200, Luke storms into the Baxter Building headquarters of the Fantastic Four, where he gets into a scuffle with Mister Fantastic, the Thing, the Human Torch, and Medusa. After Luke explains that he is merely seeking help getting to Latveria, though, Mister Fantastic agrees to lend him a rocket ship, having read good things about Luke in Phil Fox’s column in the Daily Bugle. When he arrives in Doctor Doom’s isolated kingdom in Central Europe, Luke finds himself in the middle of a full-scale robot rebellion engineered by Doom’s alien foe, the Faceless One. Luke agrees to join forces with the Faceless One and his robot army in order to breach Castle Doom’s defenses. Once that has been accomplished, Luke confronts Doctor Doom in the throne room and demands his $200. Doom is surprised, having assumed that Luke was acting on behalf of the Fantastic Four, and responds dismissively at first, but his arrogant condescension merely enrages Luke. By repeatedly striking the same spot on Doom’s chestplate, Luke is able to knock his armor’s weapons systems offline. However, when the Faceless One then tries to kill Doom, Luke intervenes, as he is unwilling to stand by as a man is murdered—especially a man who owes him money. The Faceless One beats a hasty retreat, but Luke refuses to go after the alien, since Doom still hasn’t paid him for last job he did. Doom is amused, saying that Luke reminds him of himself in his younger days, and gives him the $200 in cash. After counting the money, Luke departs, leaving Doctor Doom to deal with the robot rebellion on his own. When Luke returns the rocket ship to the Fantastic Four, they are astonished that his mission was successful. Rather than brag, Luke tells them to look him up if they ever need a favor. He then heads down to the street and hails a taxi, ignoring the Thing’s barrage of questions about what exactly went down in Latveria.

February 1966 – Luke confers with Mimi Jenks, Frank Jenks’s widow, about the murder investigation, though she is averse to paying Luke any more money. She takes Luke to the bank where Frank kept a safe deposit box, but the only clue they find is a matchbook from a Manhattan restaurant with something written in Spanish inside the cover. Since Frank apparently didn’t speak Spanish, Luke decides to check it out. Unfortunately, when he arrives at the address, Luke discovers that the restaurant has just burned down. Frustrated, he heads over to visit Claire at the neighborhood clinic and is annoyed to find Daily Bugle columnist Phil Fox still trying to arrange an interview with Noah Burstein. When Luke returns to his office in Times Square later, he fights a gang of hit men who were lying in wait there. Though he defeats the killers, Luke is zapped into unconsciousness by their leader, the Puerto Rican crime boss known as Señor Muerte, who is wearing an insulated costume that delivers powerful electric shocks. When he comes to, Luke finds himself chained up in a tunnel on the waterfront which is starting to fill with icy water from the harbor. Señor Muerte gloats about Luke’s impending death by drowning, then takes his leave. With great effort, Luke escapes from the death trap and goes to meet with his informant, Flea, for more information about Señor Muerte and his illegal gambling operation. Flea provides an address, but it turns out to be a trap—Señor Muerte is waiting with an outlandish array of gambling-themed murder devices. Luke smashes his way through the onslaught and causes Señor Muerte’s costume to short-circuit, electrocuting the criminal. After completing his investigation, Luke reports to Mimi Jenks that her husband’s murder has been solved: Frank had lost a lot of money in Señor Muerte’s casinos and was going to blow the whistle on them in hopes of saving himself. Learning of the plan, Señor Muerte had Frank killed in an attack staged to look like a random mugging. Mimi is disgusted that Frank would stoop to gambling with mobsters, but Luke berates her for driving Frank to it with her pretentious social climbing.

A couple weeks later, Luke is hired by Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson to capture Spider-Man, who is wanted by the police in connection with the murder of industrialist Norman Osborn. Though he doesn’t like working on Saturdays, Luke agrees to take the case. After doing some research, Luke determines which parts of the city Spider-Man is most often spotted in and then hangs out for a while on a high rooftop in Midtown Manhattan, several blocks east of Times Square. When Spider-Man eventually swings by, Luke leaps out and tackles him. However, the web-slinger proves to be a surprisingly formidable opponent, and his barrage of angry insults enrages Luke. Their brawl ends when Spider-Man knocks Luke through a skylight and swings off on his web-line. Determined to earn his pay, Luke next heads to the campus of Empire State University in Greenwich Village, where he crashes a student dance party. Sure enough, Spider-Man appears a moment later and attacks Luke. They trade punches for a few minutes until Spider-Man gets fed up and webs Luke down to some cement steps. Unable to break free, Luke agrees to listen to what the wall-crawler has to say. Spider-Man apologizes for insulting Luke about using his super-powers for money, admitting that he also initially tried to cash in on his abilities. As they talk, Luke realizes that Spider-Man is just an over-emotional teenager and not a killer. Thus, after they’ve gone their separate ways, Luke heads over to the Daily Bugle Building and returns Jameson’s money, saying he won’t be able to fulfil the assignment after all.

On his way home, Luke stops in at the neighborhood clinic, where he finds Claire and Dr. Burstein treating a young woman who was injured when a supervillain calling himself “Chemistro” attacked her place of employment, the New York offices of General Motors. The president of the company is on hand, and he hires Luke to track down Chemistro and bring him to justice. Thus, Luke heads immediately to the General Motors building, where he learns that Chemistro used some kind of ray gun to transmute the floor of the executive suite to glass, which then shattered under the weight of all the furniture. Luke sends some of the glass for analysis at a private chemistry lab he has worked with previously, and they soon report that the glass had a highly unstable molecular structure and quickly crumbled to dust. The next day, Luke eavesdrops on an emergency board meeting at GM, where he is surprised to learn that the executives all know Chemistro’s real identity, for he is a disgruntled former chemist for the company. Before Luke can react, Chemistro crashes the meeting and threatens the board members. Luke immediately leaps into action and attacks the villain, giving the executives time to flee. Despite his foe’s all-concealing costume, Luke realizes that Chemistro is African American. Unfortunately, Chemistro uses his “alchemy gun” to turn the floor beneath Luke’s feet to paper, sending him crashing down into the lobby below. After Chemistro makes good his escape, Luke confronts the GM board members and demands a full explanation. They reveal that Chemistro’s real name is Curtis Carr, and he was fired when he refused to surrender the alchemy gun despite having developed it on company time. Now, it seems, Carr is out for revenge. Though he suspects Carr has gotten a raw deal, Luke promises to capture him.

Unable to pick up Chemistro’s trail, Luke returns to his Times Square office, where he finds Phil Fox waiting for him. Luke’s annoyance turns to cold rage when Fox calls him by his real name and mentions Seagate Prison. Luke’s attempt to play dumb fails; Fox is too sure of his facts. The reporter proves unsympathetic to Luke’s side of the story and makes clear that he’s intent on blackmail, even suggesting that Luke’s superpowers would make him a formidable bank robber. Luke loses his temper and smacks Fox around, threatening to beat him to a bloody pulp if he makes trouble. Fearing for his life, Fox stumbles down the stairs and flees. Moments later, Claire enters, saying she ran into Fox outside and was disturbed by his bizarre behavior. Worried how Claire would react if she learned the truth about his criminal past, Luke refuses to discuss the matter. He knows his only option is to wait and see what Fox decides to do next.

March 1966 – Three days later, Luke disguises himself as a race car driver at an exhibition of prototype sports cars sponsored by General Motors at a test track in New Jersey. As expected, Chemistro appears and uses his alchemy gun to change Luke’s car into a soft, flammable substance. Though the car explodes into a huge fireball as it spins out of control, Luke emerges from the conflagration unharmed. He chases Chemistro into the stands and apprehends him, pulling off his mask and demanding that he surrender. Instead, the unhinged Chemistro transmutes his own foot into solid steel and kicks Luke in the face. However, his foot immediately crumbles to dust, sending Chemistro into a state of shock. Luke tries to calm his hapless foe down and grows angry when Phil Fox heckles him from the crowd, suggesting they still have unfinished business. An ambulance arrives then to take Chemistro to the hospital, and Fox slips away before Luke can confront him. The president of General Motors personally thanks Luke for ending the threat to his company and pays him handsomely for his efforts.

April 1966 – Luke’s high-profile victory for General Motors pays off again when he is personally hired by New York mayor John V. Lindsay to investigate the death of a city accountant who was apparently killed by an intelligent tiger. Suspecting the involvement of a supervillain, Mayor Lindsay has come to Luke, thinking he’ll be easier to work with than the Avengers. Luke agrees to take the case, provided he has a free hand to conduct the investigation in his own manner. With the terms agreed upon, Luke visits the city accounting office, where he merely learns the dead man audited the education and sanitation accounts. Further inquires at various government offices prove equally unrevealing, leaving Luke frustrated. On the way over to Claire’s clinic, Luke is ambushed in the street by a tiger, a lion, and a panther, and he is startled when they seem to be growling out words in English and Spanish. Though he manages to drive the cats off, Luke realizes their claws must have been coated with poison that has seeped into his skin. He staggers into the clinic, where Claire and Burstein treat him. Phil Fox drops in, having witnessed Luke’s battle with the big cats, and taunts him, dropping numerous veiled references to his blackmail scheme. Luke tells Fox to get lost, but again declines to tell Claire what’s going on between them. He suspects Burstein of having betrayed him to Fox but knows he can’t confront him when Claire is around. He also realizes Fox must be hoping for a bigger payoff if he lets Luke sweat for a while, expecting to wear down his resolve. His head swimming, Luke goes home to recover from the poison.

Over the next two days, Luke’s investigation leads him to the Bronx apartment of schoolteacher Alejandro Cortez, who had a major grant proposal denied due to budget cuts that the murdered accountant had recommended. Cortez’s wife confirms that he was bitter about losing his funding, swore to get revenge, and promptly disappeared. Noting that the living room walls are covered with circus posters, Luke decides to check out the circus currently occupying Madison Square Garden. There, he finds Cortez, who has adopted the supervillain identity of Lionfang. Trapping Luke in the lion-tamer’s cage with the tiger, the lion, and the panther, Lionfang reveals that he has developed a means to transfer his mental patterns into the brains of the big cats, granting them near-human levels of intelligence. Since the villain hasn’t had the opportunity to coat the cats’ claws with poison, though, Luke easily defeats the animals. Lionfang tries to escape by swinging across the arena on the trapeze bars, but Luke knocks down the pole on the far end, planning to catch Lionfang when he falls. Unfortunately, Luke misjudges his foe’s momentum, and Lionfang plummets to his doom. Filled with self-recrimination, Luke reports his findings to the mayor’s office. Over the following week, Claire helps Luke come to terms with his role in Lionfang’s death.

May 1966 – Intending to take a day off, Luke goes for a stroll down Broadway, only to have people all around him inexplicably start changing into hideous, demonic monsters. As the city itself transforms into a weird, alien landscape, Luke tries to contain the rioting creatures. Finally, less than an hour after it began, the phenomenon ends and everything reverts to normal. Luke is shocked as he surveys the tremendous damage the city has suffered from the monsters’ rampage, while the people who had been transformed wander around in a daze. A few minutes later, though, all the damage is suddenly undone, as if by magic. Later, the Avengers report that the entire event was a mass hallucination created by a supervillain whom they have defeated, though the government insists it was the work of a mutant terrorist. Luke isn’t sure what to believe.

Sometime later, Luke receives a frantic phone call from a nearby demolition site; three workers are hopelessly trapped under tons of rubble and they will run out of air before conventional rescue efforts can reach them. Luke races to the scene, smashes his way into the collapsed building, and carries the three men to safety. The construction company agrees to pay Luke the top rate for his heroic efforts, and Luke’s reputation continues to grow.

June 1966 – A few weeks later, Luke is brooding in his office late one night when Mimi Jenks unexpectedly turns up, seeking sanctuary after a man she was out on the town with became too sexually aggressive. Unfortunately, the man in question, local attorney “Big Ben” Donovan, bursts in a moment later and attacks Luke, thinking him a romantic rival. Though the drunken Donovan proves to be a tough customer, Luke soon knocks him unconscious. He then puts Mimi in a taxi, promising to call her later after Donovan has sobered up. When Luke returns to his office, though, Donovan attacks him again. Their fight smashes up the place until Luke finally beats Donovan into submission. The two men then talk for a couple of hours, getting to know each other, and Luke realizes Donovan isn’t such a bad guy. At dawn, they go out for breakfast and end up parting as friends. However, when he gets home afterwards, Luke receives a call from the public defender’s office informing him that Claire Temple has been arrested for the murder of Phil Fox. Shocked, Luke heads to the jail and speaks to Claire through the window of her cell after being turned away by the police. He is horrified to discover that Claire has learned that he is an escaped convict and that the man who actually killed Fox has apparently kidnapped Mimi and escaped. Claire never saw the man but heard his thick southern drawl through the door of Mimi’s apartment just before Fox was shot. She was arrested while examining Fox’s body, because she had unthinkingly picked up the murder weapon from the floor and was holding it when the police arrived. Promising to get legal help from his new friend “Big Ben” Donovan, Luke sets off to track down Fox’s killer.

After phoning Donovan and checking out the crime scene in Mimi’s apartment, Luke breaks into Noah Burstein’s home and rousts him out of bed, accusing Burstein of betraying him to Phil Fox. Burstein insists that he never did, but reveals that he had a journal about his experiments at Seagate Prison, which Fox must have stolen. Realizing that the killer must now have the journal, Luke heads up to Harlem with a growing sense of desperation. He finds his informant, Flea, who taunts him about Seagate. Enraged, Luke demands that Flea come clean, so the stoolpidgeon leads him to a closed-down liquor store for a meeting with his former fellow inmates Shades and Comanche. Not in the mood for the pair’s posturing, Luke forces Flea to reveal that he encountered a drunken Phil Fox a week or so ago, when the reporter bragged about having dirt on Luke Cage. Flea helped Fox get home, where he read the stolen journal after Fox passed out on the couch. However, feeling bad for having betrayed Luke to Señor Muerte a few months ago, Flea decided to keep his discovery to himself. Several days later, though, Flea recognized Shades and Comanche from Burstein’s account, and they were receptive to doing some business with him on account of his close relationship with Luke. Shades and Comanche then explain that they intend to seize the Harlem rackets from the crimeboss known as Morgan and want Luke to join them, in exchange for their help capturing Phil Fox’s killer. Luke rejects their proposal until Shades reveals that they know the killer’s identity—Albert “Billy Bob” Rackham, the racist guard who abused them all at Seagate. Feeling the weight of his past crashing down on him, Luke agrees to the scheme, then goes out to phone Donovan, and they hatch a plan to free Mimi, capture all the criminals, and exonerate Claire.

Flea leads Luke, Shades, and Comanche to a modest house in suburban New Jersey, where they confront Rackham, who has Mimi tied to a chair and is threatening her with a gun. Having heard on the radio that Claire has been arrested for Fox’s murder, Rackham gloats that only he or Mimi could clear her name. Unfortunately, Luke’s plan suddenly goes awry when the ceiling caves in on them. Pinned beneath the wreckage, Rackham panics and shoots Mimi three times in the chest. As the house continues to collapse, Luke pulls Shades and Comanche to safety while Flea carries the dying Mimi outside. Luke is about to drag Rackham from the rubble when the cause of the destruction reveals himself—a heavily armed white man with a crewcut and a southern accent calling himself Stiletto. Obviously privy to all Luke’s secrets, Stiletto is intent on sending him back to prison, but Luke overcomes his arsenal of exotic weapons and gives him a beating. As the police arrive on the scene, Stiletto shocks Luke with a cryogenic device and runs off, vowing to return to capture him another day. “Big Ben” Donovan turns up and informs Luke that Rackham has been killed—run over by an ambulance while attempting to flee—but Mimi confessed to Phil Fox’s murder before she died. Luke is shocked by Mimi’s last selfless act and grateful that she has saved Claire from prison. The police congratulate Luke as Shades and Comanche are taken into custody. The two crooks decide not to expose Luke’s true identity, apparently grateful that he saved their lives. Later that afternoon, Luke is on hand when Claire is released from jail, and they share a tender kiss.

July–October 1966 – After the initial euphoria of her exoneration wears off, Claire has a hard time dealing with the fact that Luke never confided in her about his criminal past. From her own experience of being wrongfully accused, she has nothing but sympathy for Luke’s situation but is hurt that he didn’t trust her enough to be honest. As a result, Luke feels awkward around Claire, causing their relationship to falter. He buries himself in his work, as his growing reputation ensures a steady stream of routine, though not particularly lucrative, assignments for the “Hero for Hire.”

November 1966 – Luke receives a telegram from Ugandan economics minister Dr. Kinji Obatu, who is seeking to hire superpowered protection during his visit to the United States. However, as Obatu is staying at a hotel in Detroit, Michigan, and hasn’t provided any travel funds, Luke tosses the telegram in the trash. Having seen in the newspaper that Iron Man is currently in Detroit, Luke figures Obatu can retain the service of the Golden Avenger instead. Even so, Luke thinks that potential clients might take him more seriously if he had a typical superhero code-name, and he starts to consider his options.

Soon after, Luke is hired by a man claiming to represent Iron Man’s employer, Stark Industries, to test their factory’s security measures by attempting to steal a new spacesuit designed as part of their space-exploration program. The man, who calls himself Orville Smythe, warns Luke that not even Iron Man has been informed of the test, so he’ll have to be on his guard. Excited by the prospect and happy with the generous check Smythe has presented, Luke accepts the assignment. As he is leaving the building at dusk, Luke encounters Noah Burstein, whom he has been avoiding for months. Burstein wants to apologize for all the trouble his journal caused, but Luke blows him off and heads out to Stark’s facility on Long Island. After successfully breaching the vault containing the prototype spacesuit, Luke gets into a brutal battle with Iron Man. When Luke finally calls it quits, insisting that he’s fulfilled the assignment Smythe gave him, the confused Iron Man realizes that Smythe was an impostor. Sure enough, Smythe, now wearing the spacesuit, tries to escape in an experimental aircraft. Seeing that Iron Man’s flight capability was knocked offline during their fight, Luke races after the plane and grabs on just as it takes off into the sky. Luke smashes his way into the cockpit, but, after a brief struggle, Smythe stumbles out of the damaged aircraft and plummets to his death. Unsure of how to land the plane, Luke radios for help, and Iron Man instructs him on how to activate the remote-control systems. Iron Man then meets him when the aircraft returns to Stark Industries, whereupon Luke rips up the phony check he’d been given. Iron Man assures Luke that Tony Stark will reimburse him for his trouble—minus the cost to repair all the damage he caused. Annoyed, Luke heads for home. The evening proves not to be a total loss, though, for Luke has decided on a new code-name: Power Man.

December 1966 – Luke is frustrated when his efforts to rebrand himself as Power Man have no discernable effect on his business, though D.W. assures him that it’s a cool name. Luke is also concerned that so many people—Noah Burstein, Shades, Comanche, Stiletto, Flea, and now Claire Temple—know of his true identity as escaped convict Carl Lucas. It’s only a matter of time, he realizes, before he’ll have to confront the shadows of his past or be overwhelmed by them.


Notes:

January 1966 – After starting off the year with a cameo appearance in Fantastic Four #133, Luke Cage’s adventures resume in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #8. For Doctor Doom’s perspective on these events, see my Doctor Doom Chronology. Luke is out working a case when the Avengers try to phone him in Daredevil #99.

February 1966 – Luke battles Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #123, which sort of crosses over with Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #12. In that issue, General Motors is fictionalized as “Mainstream Motors.”

May 1966 – Luke makes a cameo appearance in Avengers #118 as Dormammu tries to merge Earth with his own mystical realm, the Dark Dimension. The Avengers decide to conceal the truth about that event from the public to avoid mass panic, a fact that President Morris N. Richardson’s anti-mutant administration would surely take advantage of.

November 1966 – Luke receives Kinji Obatu’s telegram in Iron Man #65. He is unaware that Obatu is the supervillain known as Doctor Spectrum, though he may learn this fact from news reports shortly afterward. Luke’s subsequent misunderstanding fight with Iron Man brings us up to Power Man #17, the first issue with the new title.


Jump Back: Power Man – Year One

Next Issue: Secrets of the Scarlet Witch – Part Five


Wednesday

OMU: Black Panther -- Year Four

The Black Panther spends the next twelve months with the Avengers and thus returns to the spotlight, although he isn’t always given very much to do. His personal life remains as unexplored as his kingdom of Wakanda, though that will soon change. His association with the Avengers brings him into conflict with a wide variety of menaces, from street-level organized crime to supervillains such as Magneto and Kang to more cosmic-level threats like Dormammu and Thanos, as well as his seemingly annual fight with his arch-enemy, Klaw. His neglect of his royal duties, however, will soon drag T’Challa into a world of hurt.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale). Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Now continuing… The True History of the Black Panther!


January 1966 – The Black Panther is sparring with Iron Man in the Avengers’ combat-simulation room as Captain America, the Vision, and the Scarlet Witch look on. Suddenly, Thor enters and summons the Scarlet Witch to the communications room, promising her tidings of great joy. The Avengers are pleased to find Quicksilver calling from the Great Refuge of the Inhumans. Standing next to him on the large viewscreen is Crystal, the Human Torch’s ex-girlfriend and a member of the Inhumans’ royal family. The Scarlet Witch is visibly relieved to learn that her twin brother is alive and well, and is thrilled to hear that Quicksilver and Crystal have fallen in love after she saved him from the Sentinels’ Australian base last October. However, when the Scarlet Witch reveals that she, too, has fallen in love—with the Vision—Quicksilver objects angrily, leading to an argument that makes the rest of the Avengers rather uncomfortable. After Quicksilver hangs up on her, the Scarlet Witch starts to cry and the Vision moves in to comfort her. The Black Panther, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man move to the other end of the room to give the couple some space. Iron Man feels the team may be a bit shorthanded now that they’ve lost both Quicksilver and Hawkeye, but Thor dismisses his concerns. The discussion is cut short when the team receives a transmission from the X-Men’s secret headquarters, which has been trashed in a battle. The mutants’ leader, Professor Charles Xavier, speaks defiantly to the villain who is filming him, but then the screen goes dark. The Avengers agree to seek out the X-Men’s mansion and do what they can to help their fellow superheroes.

When they arrive at the secluded estate in Westchester County, the Avengers quickly discover Professor X, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, and Iceman in the wreckage, all of whom appear to be comatose. Iron Man carries out a winged man they assume to be the Angel, only to face four rampaging dinosaurs that are under the control of a sort of Pied Piper figure who emerges from the woods. After defeating the dinosaurs, the Avengers try to capture the Piper, but are stopped by Magneto, who is wearing the Angel’s black-and-white costume and laughing about how he fooled Iron Man with a pair of false wings. Announcing that he is abducting the X-Men, Magneto grabs the Scarlet Witch and uses his powers to send Iron Man crashing into Captain America, knocking them both out. The villains then escape with their prisoners in the Quinjet while the Vision and Thor are busy keeping the Black Panther from being crushed by boulders. The three remaining Avengers return to the mansion and try to recruit some back-up for a rescue operation. When the Black Knight can’t be reached, they turn next to the Falcon, Spider-Man, and Luke Cage, but none of them can be located. At the Black Panther’s suggestion, they fly out to San Francisco to seek help from Daredevil and the Black Widow. Hawkeye is there as well, but he angrily refuses their request and storms out. The Black Widow vents her frustration on the Avengers, and T’Challa is annoyed by all the unprovoked hostility. Nevertheless, Daredevil and the Black Widow reluctantly agree to lend a hand, and so the five heroes board the Quinjet and head back to New York.

At Avengers Mansion, the Black Panther, the Vision, and Thor discuss the situation with Daredevil, though the Black Widow seems to have other things on her mind. As the team’s butler, Edwin Jarvis, serves coffee, the Black Panther explains to Daredevil how Magneto kidnapped the X-Men as well as Captain America, Iron Man, and the Scarlet Witch. Scanning a newspaper on the table with his fingers, Daredevil announces that a special conference of the Atomic Energy Commission is being held that very day in a house not 50 miles from New York City. Thor realizes it’s a likely target for Magneto, given his interest in atomic energy and its resulting mutations, so they decide to check it out. When they arrive, though, they are unable to stop Magneto from kidnapping the commissioners, as he has Captain America, Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, and Iceman under some form of mind-control. The Black Panther suggests that Magneto must have a lair near the X-Men’s headquarters where he kept the dinosaurs, so they head back to Westchester County to search the area. However, they are concerned by the Vision’s disappearance during the fight and fear he was captured. In the woods behind the X-Men’s mansion, Daredevil’s radar sense detects a large cavern beneath the surface. Thor uses his enchanted hammer to smash a tunnel down to the cavern, where they discover Magneto and his hypnotized prisoners. During the ensuing fight, the Black Panther tries to subdue Cyclops, only to be battered into unconsciousness by Iceman. When he comes to, T’Challa finds that Magneto has been defeated and his prisoners released. The others explain that the Vision phased inside the Piper and was able to sneak up behind Magneto and take him out with a karate chop to the back of the neck. Professor X then appears, having also been held prisoner, and puts Magneto into a telepathically induced coma. Taking charge of the defeated villains, the X-Men return to their nearby headquarters, intent on searching for the Angel, whose disappearance remains unexplained. Captain America conveys the Avengers’ thanks to Daredevil and the Black Widow and offers them full membership on the team. Daredevil declines but the Black Widow accepts, causing a rift between them. Daredevil leaves in a huff, and later the Black Panther arranges for a Quinjet to take him back to San Francisco.

Soon after, a mob of African-American militants pounds on the front door of Avengers Mansion, demanding that the Black Panther come outside. Before the Avengers can react, the mob breaks down the door and opens fire with rifles. Iron Man and the Scarlet Witch drive them back, but they continue to chant that the Black Panther must return to Africa, where his people need him. As the situation escalates, a man in a trenchcoat emerges from the crowd and demands that the Black Panther bow down to him. The next thing T’Challa knows, he is chained up in a cave, facing the armored form of the Lion God, whom he recognizes from Wakandan mythology. The Lion God is intent on replacing the Panther God as the chief deity of Wakanda and so, in order to demoralize T’Challa, sets out to destroy the Avengers. The Lion God teleports T’Challa and himself back to Avengers Mansion, where he attacks Thor, Iron Man, the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, and the Black Widow in the team’s underground conference room. After quickly taking out Thor and the Vision, the Lion God causes two lions to materialize and sets them on the rest of the team. Iron Man leaps to the Black Widow’s defense, knocking out one of the lions with a repulsor beam. However, the Lion God shoots him in the back with a blast of energy from his totem-stick, taking the Golden Avenger out of the fight. Fearing that his friends have been killed, the Black Panther breaks out of his chains and saves the Scarlet Witch from being mauled by the second lion. Luckily, Thor revives and calls down a lightning strike that hits the totem-stick, apparently overloading it and causing a massive explosion. T’Challa assumes that the Lion God has been destroyed. The Black Widow then announces that she has decided to return to San Francisco to work with Daredevil, preferring their partnership to being a member of a large group. The Black Panther, however, affirms his commitment to the team and says he plans to remain in New York for a while.

T’Challa continues to date Monica Lynne, and their relationship gradually becomes more serious. Though he often assists Monica with her work in the civil rights movement, he decides not to revive his “Luke Charles” identity or try to return to his old teaching job in Harlem. When not engaged in Avengers business, the Black Panther battles street crime while patrolling New York’s African-American neighborhoods.

February 1966 – In the middle of the month, Quicksilver comes to Avengers Mansion to try to talk his sister out of her love affair with the Vision, which proves to be very contentious. Jarvis is serving Sunday brunch to the Black Panther, Captain America, Thor, the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver when the entire building is suddenly transported to the 23rd century by Kang the Conqueror. With the element of surprise, Kang is able to knock out everyone in the mansion. T’Challa awakens sometime later to find himself and his teammates in the shattered remains of a bank of stasis tubes in Kang’s fortress. Iron Man is now among them, obviously having been captured as well. They have been freed by Black Bolt, Gorgon, Karnak, and Triton of the Inhumans, while Kang lies defeated under some rubble nearby. Spider-Man then enters, having captured Thor’s old foe Zarrko the Tomorrow Man. However, as Spider-Man hustles everyone out of the citadel for transport back to the 20th century, they discover that Kang tricked them with a robot double and made good his escape. The voice of the real Kang then mocks them over the loudspeaker. As Zarrko is turned over to the local authorities, Spider-Man explains how he and the Human Torch tracked down and destroyed three chronal-displacement bombs that Zarrko sent back to the 20th century to destroy civilization, after which Black Bolt’s brother, Maximus the Mad, was able to convert one of the bombs into a crude but effective time machine. Suddenly, with a blinding flash of light, the Black Panther, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Spider-Man, and Jarvis find themselves back on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, standing outside Avengers Mansion. Assuming the Inhumans returned directly to their Great Refuge in the Himalayas, Thor notes that the team owes them a profound debt of gratitude. Feeling slighted, Spider-Man makes a wise-ass remark and swings away. Entering their headquarters, the Avengers find they’ve been gone for two days. Realizing that his arguments are falling on deaf ears, Quicksilver returns to the Inhumans’ hidden city.

The Black Panther joins Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Vision, and the Scarlet Witch when the Avengers are called in by the city to make repairs to the Statue of Liberty, which was heavily damaged by a giant monster a few months ago. A mishap causes the statue’s right hand to break off and plummet toward the Scarlet Witch. The Vision swoops in to rescue her as their teammates deal with the falling debris. To the shock of the crowds watching from below, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch embrace and kiss. By the time the heroes return to Avengers Mansion, news of the romance between the mutant woman and the android man has spread like wildfire. The next day, they receive mountains of mail expressing all manner of views on the relationship, much of it negative. Some of New York’s more obnoxious residents appear at the mansion’s front door, but the Black Panther and Iron Man send them away. After a few days, the hubbub dies down.

March 1966 – When a gang of neo-Nazis goes around beating up Jews on the street, the Black Panther, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Vision, and the Scarlet Witch go out to put a stop to it. The Avengers make short work of the neo-Nazis, but suddenly they are rushed by a suicide bomber who detonates the explosives strapped to her chest and seriously damages the Vision. Cradling the Vision in his arms, Iron Man flies at once to the Long Island laboratories of Stark Industries. Thor announces that he will fetch the surgeon Donald Blake and departs. The Black Panther and Captain America escort the distraught Scarlet Witch to the factory complex, where T’Challa joins Tony Stark and Don Blake in a sophisticated laboratory. The three men set to work making repairs to the Vision, guided by the schematics Ant-Man drew up after his explorations of the synthezoid’s interior last year. However, more suicide bombers storm the building, intent on finishing the Vision off. Captain America and the Scarlet Witch are quickly outnumbered, forcing Stark to step out to summon Iron Man to help. When Stark returns several minutes later, he suggests that Blake see if he can find Thor. After Blake has left, Stark encourages T’Challa to join the fray as well, insisting that he can finish the repairs on his own. Thus, the Black Panther lends his teammates a hand until the last of the bombers detonate their explosives and kill themselves. The Avengers are shocked by such reckless fanaticism. A few minutes later, Stark emerges from the laboratory to announce that the Vision should make a full recovery. T’Challa is startled when the Scarlet Witch reacts with indignant rage, ranting about the way the Vision has been treated—even by her own brother—despite his many heroic acts. The way she complains about “humans,” apparently oblivious to her own bigotry, is also disturbing. With all the suicide bombers dead, the Avengers are unable to learn anything more about their motives.

April 1966 – The Black Panther, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision are about to start a search for the missing Scarlet Witch when she suddenly comes striding through the front gate with an Asian woman called Mantis and their old enemy the Swordsman. T’Challa is intrigued when the Swordsman insists that he’s reformed and petitions to join the team (legitimately this time) as Hawkeye’s replacement. Cap tells the former supervillain to keep dreaming, but the Scarlet Witch objects, accusing Cap of being ruled by his prejudices. Iron Man is forced to concur, pointing out that the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Hawkeye, and the Black Widow were all considered “villains” before getting a shot at redemption. When Thor volunteers to take full responsibility for the Swordsman’s behavior during a probationary period, Cap grudgingly bows to the will of the majority. Iron Man asks Mantis if she wants to join the team too, but she insists she is merely the Swordsman’s companion. Glad to have another woman to talk to, the Scarlet Witch assures Mantis that she’s welcome there. After a week of working closely together, Thor recommends that the Swordsman be granted all the privileges of Avengers membership. Despite Cap’s reservations, the team votes to induct him into their ranks and all agree to trust that the Swordsman really has reformed.

A week or so later, the Avengers see a news report of Hawkeye and the Hulk on the waterfront battling a giant creature made of electricity. They discuss the fact that the archer has returned to New York without contacting them, indicating that he really does intend to go his own way from now on. Suddenly, the Lion God smashes into the chamber, apparently abetted by the Swordsman and Mantis. T’Challa is disturbed that the team was completely taken in by two traitors and is astonished when Mantis takes out Thor with her martial arts skills. The Lion God then blasts Iron Man into unconsciousness with searing energy rays from his hunting spear. As the Vision falls to the Swordsman, Mantis knocks Captain America out with a nerve-pinch. Triumphant, the Lion God is about to burn the Black Panther at the stake when he is mesmerized by the Swordsman and Mantis. This gives Iron Man a chance to revive, whereupon he triggers an adamantium containment cylinder installed in the ceiling after the last time the mansion’s security was breached. Iron Man then suggests to the groggy Thor that he send the Lion God into another dimension before he breaks free, and the thunder god uses his enchanted hammer to do so at once. In the aftermath of the battle, Mantis explains that she had sensed a malignant force lurking around the mansion and worked with the Swordsman to lure it out into the open. They then pretended to cooperate with the Lion God, planning all the while to turn the tables on him at the crucial moment. Impressed by the couple’s daring, Thor expresses the team’s profound gratitude. Captain America is clearly still suspicious, but the others agree that, if nothing else, the Swordsman and Mantis have earned the benefit of the doubt.

May 1966 – Realizing that no one’s heard from the Black Knight in several months, the Avengers decide to return to Garrett Castle in England to check up on him. As soon as their Quinjet enters British airspace, though, they are harassed by S.H.I.E.L.D., which objects to the Swordsman and Mantis, both of whom have criminal records, entering the United Kingdom. Fortunately, the Avengers are able to clear the matter up and soon touch down in a meadow outside the castle. However, they are surprised to discover the entire structure is surrounded by an invisible force field which they are unable to penetrate. Mantis performs some kind of mystic probe and determines that the barrier was erected by Doctor Strange. Suddenly, a large group of ragged, primitive-looking men with medieval weapons streams out of camouflaged holes in the ground and attacks the heroes, knocking them out with crude bombs that release a potent toxic gas. When he comes to, the Black Panther finds he and his teammates being held prisoner in a network of caverns, presumably beneath the Black Knight’s estate. The primitives are upset because the force field is preventing them from looting the castle’s storehouses, which is how they’ve sustained themselves since retreating underground to escape persecution hundreds of years ago. T’Challa realizes that generations of inbreeding has caused the cave-dwellers to become savage barbarians, but their toxic gas prevents most of his teammates from fighting back. Luckily, Thor, the Vision, and Mantis seem immune to its effects, and they hold off a giant insectoid monster long enough for the Black Panther to force their captors to surrender. The Avengers march the defeated barbarians back to the surface, where they call in medical and government aid for the lost tribe. The barbarian king informs the Avengers that the Black Knight was taken away by people in weird costumes before the castle was sealed off by the invisible wall. The heroes decide to head at once to Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum back in New York to ask him about it.

However, when the Avengers reach the sorcerer’s home in Greenwich Village, they are repelled by a mysterious force. Thor smashes down the front door with his hammer and forces his way inside, where Mantis roughs up Doctor Strange’s Chinese butler. They catch of glimpse of the Black Knight in an interior room, having apparently been turned to stone, and assume that Doctor Strange is responsible. Before they can react, though, the Avengers are ejected from the building by hurricane-force winds. Thor rages at the unseen sorcerer, saying they will return when they’ve figured out how to overcome his magic, and then the Avengers return to their headquarters, seething with indignation. Shortly afterwards, a psychic projection of Loki materializes in the mansion to warn the Avengers that Doctor Strange is leading a cabal of super-powered misfits on a quest to obtain the six segments of the legendary weapon known as the Evil Eye of Avalon, which has the power to destroy the world. Joining the mysterious master of black magic is the bestial Hulk, whose hatred for humanity is well known; the savage Sub-Mariner, who has long warred against the human race; the Silver Surfer, the bitter alien imprisoned on Earth; the Valkyrie, who desires revenge for her defeat at the hands of the Avengers a couple years ago; and even their former teammate Hawkeye, who wants to strike back at those he believes betrayed him. Though Thor is not inclined to believe anything his adopted brother says, the other Avengers convince him that they should check it out.

Thus, the Black Panther and Mantis fly to Fort Wayne, Indiana, while their teammates cover the other five locations provided by Loki. After arriving, they receive a transmission from the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, reporting that they were attacked in Polynesia by the Silver Surfer, who made off with a segment of the Evil Eye. With Loki’s tale apparently confirmed, the Black Panther and Mantis commence their search in a large cornfield outside the city, where Mantis’s mystic senses have led them. They soon confront Doctor Strange, despite his attempts to evade them. The Black Panther manages to wrest the Evil Eye segment from the sorcerer’s grasp while Mantis deals with a shotgun-wielding farmer. Unfortunately, Doctor Strange casts a spell that incapacitates his opponents long enough for him to escape. T’Challa is frustrated and hopes the rest of the Avengers fared better.

The Black Panther and Mantis then rendezvous with Captain America, Iron Man, the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, and a wounded Swordsman. They have been joined by the Sub-Mariner, who has convinced Cap that both teams have been played for fools by Loki. Returning to New York, the Sub-Mariner leads the Avengers into Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum without incident, where they find the sorcerer, Hawkeye, the Silver Surfer, and the Valkyrie in a well-appointed sitting room. T’Challa notices the Black Knight, turned to stone, standing in a corner of the room. The Sub-Mariner informs his shocked teammates that Loki told the Avengers that their team, which they call the Defenders, was out to conquer the world. The Valkyrie assures the Avengers that they sought out the Evil Eye so they could use its mystical power to release the Black Knight from the petrification spell placed on him by the Enchantress. T’Challa is confused, since he remembers the Valkyrie being merely an illusion the Enchantress used to disguise herself, but such matters are explained as the two teams get to know each other better over the next half hour. Finally, Iron Man realizes that Thor and the Hulk are still out on the battlefield and could be laying waste to Los Angeles at that very moment. Thus, Doctor Strange weaves a spell that teleports everyone out to California.

There, they find Thor and the Hulk locked in a stalemate, each one’s super-strong muscles straining against the other’s as they grapple, but Doctor Strange convinces them to stand down. The Avengers and the Defenders then compare notes and realize that Thor was fighting Loki in Rutland, Vermont, last Halloween at the same time that the Defenders were battling Dormammu there. They speculate that the two arch-villains must have teamed up. Their suspicions are confirmed when the six segments of the Evil Eye are suddenly stolen by Dormammu’s servant Asti the All-Seeing. Despite the best efforts of the assembled heroes, Asti escapes with the segments into another dimension. Almost immediately, the city around them begins to transform into a nightmarish world of horror, the people metamorphosing into monstrous demons. An image of Dormammu’s flaming head appears in the sky, announcing that he is using the Evil Eye to bring Earth into his Dark Dimension, thereby enabling him to conquer the planet without violating his oath to never invade our universe. The Avengers and the Defenders vow to prevent this at any cost. However, the transformed bystanders begin to attack the heroes, forcing them to fight back. The Black Panther helps keep the monsters at bay while Doctor Strange casts a spell to prevent any of the 14 superheroes present from changing into monsters themselves. The sorcerer then tries to convince Captain America that both teams need to take the fight directly to Dormammu in the Dark Dimension. Cap is reluctant to abandon the earth in such a time of crisis but relents when Nick Fury and the forces of S.H.I.E.L.D. arrive on the scene. Leaving Fury and his agents to deal with the monsters, Doctor Strange casts a spell to transport the Avengers and the Defenders into Dormammu’s realm.

In the weird landscape of the Dark Dimension, Doctor Strange yells at the headstrong Avengers to keep them from blundering to their doom, prompting Thor to order his teammates to defer to the sorcerer’s expertise. Then, after beating off the numberless hordes of the Mindless Ones, the heroes find Dormammu, brandishing the Evil Eye, with Loki imprisoned in a cage of flames. To everyone’s surprise, the Watcher is also present, looking on enigmatically. Doctor Strange manages to breach the mystic barrier separating them, but with one wave of his hand, Dormammu’s augmented magic instantly renders the six Defenders unconscious. Undaunted, Thor leads the Avengers in a desperate charge, but Dormammu turns the ground under their feet into quicksand. Thor, Iron Man, and the Scarlet Witch avoid the trap and press onward, but the two men quickly fall to Dormammu’s power. However, Loki suddenly frees himself from the flaming cage and grapples with Dormammu, enabling the Scarlet Witch to cast a hex bolt at them. There is a flash of light and then Dormammu is gone, leaving Loki gibbering like a madman. The Avengers and the Defenders regroup, and the Watcher congratulates the 14 heroes on their great victory. He explains that the hex caused the Evil Eye to malfunction, whereupon it disintegrated Dormammu, absorbed his mystical energies, and blasted them out again straight through Loki’s brain. The Asgardian god’s mind has been shattered, leaving him with the intellect of an infant. And though Dormammu’s corporeal form has been destroyed, the Watcher warns, he will eventually reintegrate himself with the aid of his many black-hearted worshipers. Doctor Strange then retrieves the Evil Eye and casts a spell that returns the two teams to Los Angeles.

The Avengers and the Defenders materialize on the same street in L.A. to find the crisis is over. The people who had been transformed into monsters have reverted to normal and are wandering around the rubble-strewn streets in a daze. Nick Fury offers the two teams his congratulations on their victory. However, wishing to keep the existence of the Defenders a secret, Doctor Strange removes all memory of their involvement from Fury and his agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as any bystanders who witnessed their presence earlier in the day. Furthermore, he combines the power of the Evil Eye with his own sorcerous might to undo all damage and destruction the world over caused by Dormammu’s scheme, leaving everyone believing they had just suffered a mass hallucination. Finally, after bidding farewell to the Avengers, Strange teleports his team back to his Sanctum Sanctorum to attend to the Black Knight. The Avengers borrow a jet from S.H.I.E.L.D. and return to New York as well. Unfortunately, since they do not arrive in a Quinjet, the Avengers are unable to deactivate their mansion’s rooftop security systems ahead of time. Luckily, the Black Panther is able to do it manually. The Scarlet Witch complains again about “humans,” and T’Challa is annoyed by her attitude. As they enter the mansion, Thor informs Jarvis of Loki’s condition and explains that he will need constant care. Since Loki has been banished from Asgard, Thor asks Jarvis to set him up in Hawkeye’s old bedroom. The Avengers are extremely wary at first, expecting treachery from their old foe, but as time passes, Loki gives no sign of faking his mental disability. Eventually, Thor decides to take his brother on an extended camping trip to Scandinavia.

Near the end of the month, Iron Man informs the Avengers about the threat of Thanos, a renegade from a utopian society hidden inside Saturn’s moon Titan. Thanos is planning to conquer the solar system, he reports, and he has already battled two of Thanos’s agents, vicious aliens called the Blood Brothers. With the help of another alien called Drax the Destroyer, Iron Man drove the villains off and destroyed their New Mexico base, but Thanos is reputed to lead a mercenary army assembled from the dregs of interstellar society and thus remains a clear and present danger to Earth.

June 1966 – The Black Panther is with Captain America, Iron Man, the Vision, and the Scarlet Witch at Avengers Mansion when Rick Jones’s girlfriend, Lou-Ann Savannah, shows up on the verge of exhaustion and babbling about Thanos. The young woman passes out and, while examining her, Iron Man discovers one of the Controller’s slave-discs attached to the nape of Lou-Ann’s neck. Realizing his old foe has returned, Iron Man places her under a device intended to partially inhibit the disc’s operation. She is still there a little while later when Captain Marvel arrives at the mansion. He quickly switches interdimensional places with Rick Jones, who informs the Avengers that he, Lou-Ann, and Captain Marvel have indeed gotten mixed up with Thanos, who sees conquering Earth merely as a stepping-stone to galactic domination. Rick trades places with Captain Marvel again as they head to the Avengers’ conference room for a full briefing. The Kree hero informs the team that Thanos has come to Earth in search of the Cosmic Cube, which the Avengers know could make him invincible. The meeting is interrupted by the Controller, who has broken into the mansion. The Black Panther is knocked out in the fight and, when he awakens, he discovers that part of their headquarters has been completely demolished and he and his teammates are buried in the wreckage. As they dig themselves out, the heroes are frustrated to learn that the Controller kidnapped Lou-Ann and escaped. The Avengers notice that Captain Marvel’s hair has changed from silver to blond, but he says only that he’s had a strange experience that’s given him a new perspective. Work on reconstructing Avengers Mansion begins immediately, coordinated by the various charitable foundations Tony Stark has set up for such emergencies. Captain Marvel soon defeats the Controller and rescues Lou-Ann.

July 1966 – The Black Panther agrees to serve another term as Avengers chairman, taking over from Captain America. Soon after, chaos erupts in the Middle East when a group of super-powered terrorists dubbed the Elementals seals off the Egyptian capital, Cairo, behind an impenetrable force field. The United Nations requests that the Avengers mobilize when the terrorists launch attacks on neighboring countries like Israel and the Sudan, but is reluctant to send the team in for fear of making international tensions in the region worse. Ultimately, freedom fighters within Cairo manage to liberate the city and defeat the Elementals, though details remain sketchy.

August–September 1966 – T’Challa supervises the reconstruction of the team’s headquarters, working closely with the Stark charitable foundations. He decides to upgrade many of the mansion’s security systems with Wakandan technology.

October 1966 – When Thor returns from his Scandinavian camping trip with the catatonic Loki, he agrees to take over as Avengers chairman, bringing T’Challa’s relatively quiet second stint to a close.

On Halloween, Mantis senses mystic emanations that portend great danger in Rutland, Vermont. Remembering the events of previous years, the Avengers decide they’d better check it out. When they arrive, Tom Fagan, one of the parade’s organizers, asks them to ride on one of the floats. The Black Panther, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man agree, hoping to draw out the source of the unknown danger, but the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, the Swordsman, and Mantis decide not to participate and wander off into the crowd. Two hours later, as the parade is winding down, T’Challa is frustrated that nothing has happened. Fagan then leads the four heroes through the woods toward his house, only to suddenly reveal that he is the villain in disguise. Catching the Avengers off guard with some magic pellets, he knocks them out and takes them prisoner. When he comes to, T’Challa discovers that they have been captured by the Collector, but the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, the Swordsman, and Mantis have come to the rescue. The Collector activates two magic stones that produce a swarm of vampire bats that threaten the entire town, hoping to barter for his freedom. However, Mantis kicks the villain in the face and knocks him out, then uses the magic stones to make the bats vanish again. The real Tom Fagan thanks the Avengers for saving the city and offers them any further assistance he can provide. Thor asks Fagan if he would be willing to take over caring for Loki, feeling that Rutland would be a more appropriate setting for his near-catatonic brother. Fagan agrees, so the Avengers return to their Quinjet and fly back to New York. Unfortunately, the Collector escapes as soon as he regains consciousness.

November 1966 – In the morning, Captain America and Thor take a Quinjet and fly Loki up to Rutland, Vermont. Sometime later, Cap holds a strategy session in which the team reviews their clash in the spring with the Defenders and how they all worked together to defeat the combined might of Loki and Dormammu.

Captain America meets with T’Challa at Avengers Mansion to discuss the power imbalance between himself and his partner, the Falcon, who feels he needs to be more than a mere costumed athlete to work effectively alongside Cap. As an African American, the Falcon was uncomfortable asking for help from a white scientist and requested that Cap approach the Black Panther. T’Challa says he would be happy to help. Thus, the next morning, he lands a Wakandan airship in Harlem to pick up the Falcon and his girlfriend, Leila Taylor, and take them back to his kingdom in Africa. When they arrive, T’Challa has one of his court handmaidens, Tanzika, give Leila a tour of the Wakandan capital while he and the Falcon set about creating a high-tech flight rig for aerial combat. The next day, however, Leila is bored out of her mind and has a temper tantrum. T’Challa defuses the situation by arranging a shopping trip for Leila (along with a retinue of bodyguards) to the bustling metropolis of Lagos, Nigeria, on the Atlantic coast. Unfortunately, a couple hours later, T’Challa receives a report that Leila has been kidnapped and her escort gunned down in the street. Thus, the Black Panther and the Falcon head to Nigeria at once. Upon arrival in Lagos, the two heroes learn that Leila is being held prisoner by the exiled American gangster known as Stone-Face, whom the Falcon and Captain America busted in Harlem two years ago. They storm into Stone-Face’s headquarters, but during the fight, the Falcon loses control of his new flight rig and collides with the Black Panther, knocking them both out. When he comes to, T’Challa finds that the gangsters have brought them to a cliff on the coast to kill them. Both heroes are pushed off the cliff, but the Falcon is able to activate his flight rig, save the Black Panther, and soar back up to attack the gangsters. The Black Panther scales the rock face and helps the Falcon finish off Stone-Face and his goons. After the gangsters have been turned over to the Nigerian authorities, the Black Panther flies the Falcon and Leila back to Wakanda, where they make some final adjustments to the flight rig. T’Challa then arranges to have one of his pilots return the American couple to Harlem while he meets with his regent, N’Gassi. His advisors Taku, Zatama, and W’Kabi all urge T’Challa to remain in Wakanda, but he disregards their entreaties and is soon on his way back to New York.

The Black Panther arrives at Avengers Mansion and finds the Swordsman, confined to a wheelchair, telling Thor, Iron Man, the Vision, and the Scarlet Witch that he’s determined to join them in the hunt for the international crime cartel Zodiac, as he wants revenge on them for injuring Mantis. However, it is clear that the Swordsman is in no condition to go anywhere. T’Challa is concerned when the Avengers inform him that Captain America has been framed for the murder of the small-time super-crook known as the Tumbler and is currently a fugitive from justice. Nevertheless, the Avengers split up to search the city for Zodiac’s hidden lair. Just before dawn, Thor summons them to a warehouse in New Jersey, where they find seven members of the cartel meeting with the crooked financier Cornelius Van Lunt. The Avengers crash through the window to take their foes by surprise, but Van Lunt slips out during the fight and seals off the warehouse, revealing it to be a deathtrap. Before the Avengers or the seven members of Zodiac can react, Van Lunt launches the building into orbit. Thor tries to smash through the side of the warehouse, only to discover the building is surrounded by the same kind of force field that Zodiac used when they held Manhattan hostage two years ago. His enchanted hammer passes through the field but then is unable to return to him. Appearing to panic, Thor dives behind some crates and hides under a tarp. The other Avengers and Zodiac are confused by the thunder god’s behavior. The Scarlet Witch is able to create a momentary weak spot in the field with her mutant hex power, which allows Iron Man to fly out and retrieve the hammer. Before Iron Man can get back inside, though, Libra arrives in Zodiac’s spaceplane, the Star-Cruiser, and rescues them. Once Thor emerges from his hiding place, everyone joins Libra aboard the Star-Cruiser, and he flies them to Van Lunt’s penthouse. There, Van Lunt is revealed to be Taurus, and though he conspired with Capricorn, Gemini, and Virgo to kill off the other members of the cartel, he convinces his erstwhile partners-in-crime to put aside their differences long enough to destroy the Avengers. However, the Avengers win the fight, which ends when the Vision knocks Taurus into his swimming pool. Taurus panics, though, because he can’t swim, but the Vision makes no move to rescue him. Luckily, Mantis charges in at that moment, dives into the water, and hauls Taurus to the surface. Thor is angry with the Vision, but the synthezoid offers no defense, even when the Scarlet Witch presses him on it. Disgusted, Thor demands that Libra explain why he betrayed Taurus and saved them all. Libra admits that it was something of a mistake; he really just wanted to rescue Mantis, having assumed she was with the Avengers—because she is his daughter.

The Avengers turn the rest of Zodiac over to the police and free Sgt. Damian Link, the team’s new liaison officer with the NYPD who had been taken prisoner, but they take Libra back to Avengers Mansion for questioning. There, he explains how he met Mantis’s mother when he was fighting in the First Indochina War as a member of the French Foreign Legion. After a whirlwind romance, they were married, but her brother, the crimelord known as Monsieur Khruul, objected to the match and tried to have them killed. Mantis was born while they were on the run. Eventually, Khruul’s assassins caught up to them and killed Libra’s wife, but he and his daughter found refuge in a remote monastery. The monks, who called themselves the Priests of Pama, raised Mantis, teaching her their unique form of martial arts. Finally, Libra admits, he left her there and returned to Europe. Consumed with rage, Mantis attacks Libra, but he subdues her, having learned the same fighting techniques that she did. Suddenly, the Avengers realize that the Swordsman has taken a Quinjet and is heading to Vietnam to take vengeance on Monsieur Khruul. Before they can follow, Iron Man must fly to Van Lunt’s property in New Jersey to retrieve their other Quinjet. When he returns, the Avengers set off, accompanied by Libra.

When the Avengers arrive at Monsieur Khruul’s villa on the outskirts of Saigon, they find the Swordsman tied to a chair. He admits he broke under torture and told the crimelord about the Priests of Pama and how to find them. Libra then leads the team to the remote monastery, but they arrive too late—all the monks have been slaughtered by Khruul’s assassins. The Avengers defeat the assassins, but Khruul flees deeper into the temple, only to be killed by the Star-Stalker, a dragon-like alien who has come to feed on the planet’s life-energies now that the Priests of Pama can no longer prevent him from doing so. The Star-Stalker shrugs off the Avengers’ initial attack, then spins a cocoon around itself in order to transform into its energy-absorbing form. The Black Panther contacts S.H.I.E.L.D. and arranges for them to deliver Zodiac’s ‘Star-Blaster’ weapon, which the agency has impounded. Unfortunately, when it emerges from its cocoon, the Star-Stalker proves to be impervious to the weapon’s rays. The creature slams Iron Man and Thor into each other, knocking them both out, then uses its tail to take out the Black Panther and Libra. When he comes to, T’Challa finds that Mantis and the Vision figured out how to defeat the Star-Stalker and were able to kill it. Leaving the Swordsman to recover in a Saigon hospital, the other Avengers return to New York, though Iron Man elects to remain in Vietnam on personal business.

December 1966 – The Black Panther is at Avengers Mansion when Captain America returns from his recent battle against the Secret Empire in Washington, DC. The team congratulates Cap on clearing his name, but he is in no mood to celebrate. Cap says cryptically that there was more to the situation than was revealed on the news, but he refuses to discuss it further. Thor soon returns from a trip to visit Loki in Rutland, Vermont, and then Mantis brings in the Swordsman, who is just back from Vietnam. A little while later, the Avengers meet with Captain Marvel, Drax the Destroyer, and their enigmatic friend Moondragon to discuss the problem of Thanos. Mar-Vell reports that Thanos has conquered the colony on Titan and worse, is now in possession of the Cosmic Cube. However, the strategy session is cut short when Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Drax, and Moondragon suddenly vanish into thin air. The Avengers realize they must have been kidnapped by Thanos. Though unable to find any trace of their missing friends, the Avengers learn from the space station Starcore One that an armada of spaceships is heading toward Earth from the vicinity of Mars—presumably Thanos’s fleet of space pirates that Captain Marvel warned them of. Deciding to intercept the armada before it reaches Earth, the Avengers take their spaceworthy Quinjet and Zodiac’s confiscated Star-Cruiser out to meet the threat. As the battle is joined, Thor leaves the Quinjet and smashes into the command deck of the fleet’s flagship, where he takes on an army of armored aliens singlehandedly. T’Challa pilots the Star-Cruiser, using its devastating Star-Blaster weapon against the invaders, but the armada still manages to reach Earth. In high orbit, the Quinjet blasts one of the alien ships, but it plummets down through the atmosphere and crashes in New York City. The Avengers then detect an amorphous area of utter darkness nearby, which proves to be a cloaking field around the ship that serves as the armada’s central universal translator. The Vision, the Scarlet Witch, the Swordsman, and Mantis don spacesuits and penetrate the cloaking field. Several minutes later, the field collapses, revealing the ship within. The Star-Cruiser and the Quinjet destroy the ship, causing the aliens to lose their ability to communicate with each other. Gaining the upper hand, the Avengers press their attack and, within the hour, the fleet of invading ships has been destroyed, with a handful of survivors in full retreat. Victorious, the Avengers soon land on the roof of their Manhattan headquarters.

Unfortunately, the team quickly discovers that Thanos has used the Cosmic Cube to shift the entire planet out of phase to prevent them from interfering with his plans. The space armada, they realize, was merely a distraction meant to lure the Avengers off Earth while Thanos caused the phase-shift. Still, Mantis is able to contact Captain Marvel and tell him what happened. Captain Marvel and Drax the Destroyer then attack Thanos, their fight soon carrying them away from Avengers Mansion as the team watches helplessly. Mantis sets off after them and, a few minutes later, the phase-shift is abruptly cancelled out. Entering their headquarters, the Avengers discover that Iron Man has returned as well, though he’s not sure how he got there. After comparing notes, they track Mantis to a nearby rooftop, where they find her with Captain Marvel and Drax. Captain Marvel has somehow defeated Thanos by smashing the Cosmic Cube, though he and Mantis give only vague and evasive answers to the Avengers’ questions. As Drax flies off into the night sky, Captain Marvel trades places with Rick Jones, who accompanies the others back to the mansion. Not long afterward, Captain America and Iron Man bring a vintage cryogenic chamber to the team’s headquarters after discovering it in the rubble of an old government research facility that collapsed a few blocks away. Iron Man decides to have some technicians from Stark Industries examine it after the holidays. Rick then says goodbye to the Avengers and sets out on a 15-city concert tour as part of the opening act for a more famous rock-and-roll band.

Having received yet another telegram from Wakanda inquiring about the length of his stay in America, the Black Panther is brooding at Avengers Mansion when Ambassador Ronald Pershing of Rhodesia comes seeking the Avengers’ help. Though the ambassador refuses to shake hands with a black man, T’Challa ignores the insult and listens as Pershing describes the death threats sent recently to the staff of the Rhodesian embassy. The threats took on a new urgency that morning, he reports, when their groundskeeper was found burnt to a crisp. On behalf of the team, the Vision agrees to look into the matter. Out in the street, however, the Black Panther, the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, the Swordsman, Mantis, and Pershing are suddenly trapped in a force field made of solid sound. Klaw, seemingly grown to giant size, looms over them and gloats as his new partner-in-crime, Solarr, hovers nearby inside an energy bubble. Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man emerge from the mansion and learn that the villains are threatening to roast their hostages unless the Black Panther surrenders the throne of Wakanda to Klaw, after which he intends to declare war on Rhodesia to pay them back for the harsh treatment he suffered there last year. When the giant Klaw proves to be a sonic illusion, the three senior Avengers search the neighborhood for the real villain, but the Black Panther deduces that he is, in fact, masquerading as Ambassador Pershing. With their scheme revealed, Klaw and Solarr are quickly defeated, but the Black Panther decides that he must take a leave of absence and return to Wakanda for a while. Thor, as current team chairman, grants the request and calls the Avengers to gather to toast their valiant African comrade. Unfortunately, their celebration is marred when the Scarlet Witch and the Vision get into an argument about the Swordsman’s assertion that the Vision is trying to steal Mantis away from him. T’Challa is frustrated with the Scarlet Witch’s bad attitude of late and the discord it has caused. The atmosphere around the mansion is still a bit tense a day or two later when the Black Panther joins the others for the Avengers’ fifth annual Christmas charity benefit.

A few days later, T’Challa is preparing to depart for Wakanda when Jarvis informs him of a large, mysterious aircraft coming in low towards the city from the south. Since the rest of the Avengers are out on another mission, T’Challa agrees to check it out. Taking a Quinjet, the Black Panther intercepts the craft and saves Spider-Man from falling to his doom. Spider-Man then explains that the airship is under the command of someone called Stegron, the Dinosaur Man, who is using it to bring an army of dinosaurs to New York City from the Savage Land. After conferring with Stegron’s former research partner, Dr. Curt Connors, the Black Panther and Spider-Man work together to devise an extra-strong web formula to use against Stegron’s dinosaurs. Their work is cut short when a radio bulletin announces that the prehistoric horde has rampaged through Central Park and is heading toward Times Square. Racing to the scene, the Black Panther fights with Stegron while Spider-Man tries to web up the dinosaurs. Connors arrives soon after and tells Stegron that his transformation into a Dinosaur Man is irreversible, prompting the villain to flee the battle on a pterodactyl. Spider-Man pursues him out over the harbor. When the Black Panther and Connors catch up to Spider-Man on the waterfront, they can see the pterodactyl webbed to the torch of the Statue of Liberty. However, Spider-Man reports that Stegron has drowned in the harbor. He clearly feels dejected that he was unable to save the mutated scientist. The Black Panther then arranges with the authorities to have the captured dinosaurs returned to the Savage Land.

Returning the Quinjet, the Black Panther learns that the Scarlet Witch has apparently found her birth parents: the World War II era heroes known as the Whizzer and Miss America. The Whizzer had come to Avengers Mansion to reclaim the vintage cryogenic chamber, as his radioactive mutant son had been kept in suspended animation in it for the last 18 years. The capsule had opened, though, and the mutant went on a rampage, dubbing himself “Nuklo.” He was recaptured by the Avengers and returned to cryogenic stasis, although the Whizzer suffered a heart attack and is resting upstairs. T’Challa is happy for the Scarlet Witch and hopes that this discovery will improve her attitude.

On the last day of the year, T’Challa asks Monica Lynne if she would like to accompany him back to Wakanda. Though she is not sure about giving up her career as a social worker, he convinces her of the many benefits of spending some time in Africa. T’Challa promises to have his people see to the settling of Monica’s affairs in New York so they can depart immediately. When they arrive in Wakanda, Monica is amazed by the royal palace and the adjoining “technological jungle” that T’Challa has constructed. However, during a grand feast to celebrate his return, T’Challa quickly realizes that his retinue isn’t too sure about their king bringing in his American girlfriend. He assures himself that they will warm up to Monica once they get to know her.


Notes:

January 1966 – The Avengers’ battles with Magneto and the Lion God span Avengers #110–112, with a detour into Daredevil #99 and an additional flashback in Captain America #173. The Lion God is most likely the Nubian god Apedemak, who is related to the Egyptian pantheon. The Panther God worshiped in Wakanda is of the same pantheon, being a composite figure of the goddess Bast and her son Mahes.

February 1966 – The Avengers are rescued from Kang and Zarrko by Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Human Torch, and the Inhumans in Marvel Team-Up #9–11. The Avengers then repair the Statue of Liberty at the beginning of Avengers #113.

March 1966 – The Avengers save the Vision from the suicide bombers in the rest of Avengers #113.

April 1966 – Mantis and the Swordsman turn up and help the Avengers defeat the Lion God in Avengers #114. Apparently, the Lion God never manages to return from the dimension to which Thor banishes him.

May 1966 – The Avengers and the Defenders team up to defeat Loki and Dormammu in Avengers #115–118 and Defenders #8–11. Additional information is provided in a flashback in Avengers #157, and the Avengers return home in the first few pages of Avengers #119. While the Avengers are searching for the Evil Eye segments, Wakanda is doubtless caught up in the global wave of violence caused by the invading demons of Sominus, as seen in Adventure into Fear #14–15. Iron Man warns the Avengers about Thanos shortly after Iron Man #56.

June 1966 – The Avengers and Captain Marvel battle the Controller in Captain Marvel #27–30.

July 1966 – The United Nations places the Avengers on standby as the Elementals terrorize Cairo in Supernatural Thrillers #13. T’Challa and his teammates remain behind the scenes, though.

October 1966 – The bulk of Avengers #119 covers the last Rutland, Vermont Halloween Parade story.

November 1966 – T’Challa is behind the scenes during Captain America’s strategy session in Defenders #13. The Black Panther teams up with the Falcon to defeat Stone-Face in Captain America #169–171, then helps the Avengers battle Zodiac, defeat Monsieur Khruul, and save the world from the Star-Stalker in Avengers #121–124.

December 1966 – The Avengers team up with Captain Marvel and his friends to battle Thanos and his space armada in Captain Marvel #31–33 and Avengers #125. Confusingly, three different time periods are mashed together in the first three pages of Avengers #125—Lou-Ann Savannah’s arrival at the mansion (in June), Libra being taken away by the police (in November), and Captain America returning to the Avengers after defeating the Secret Empire (in December). This is clearly done for dramatic effect. Captain America and Iron Man bring Nuklo’s cryogenic chamber to the mansion in a flashback in Giant-Size Avengers #1, then Rick Jones says goodbye in Captain Marvel #34. Klaw and Solarr attack in Avengers #126. Rhodesia is once again fictionalized as “Rudyarda,” named after the British author Rudyard Kipling. The Scarlet Witch and the Vision’s argument is seen in one of the many flashbacks in Avengers #280, in which T’Challa remains behind the scenes. The Black Panther then helps Spider-Man defeat Stegron the Dinosaur Man in Marvel Team-Up #20. The Avengers’ encounter with the Whizzer and Nuklo is depicted in Giant-Size Avengers #1. Monica Lynne’s presence in Wakanda is revealed in Jungle Action #6, the start of the Black Panther’s first solo feature.


Jump Back: The Black Panther – Year Three

Next Issue: Power Man – Year Two


Monday

OMU: Black Panther -- Year Three

The Black Panther returns to his kingdom of Wakanda for much of the next twelve months and thus largely drops out of sight, as he didn’t have his own solo series at this point. Even so, we do get to see more of his developing friendship with Daredevil, which underscores the fact that T’Challa remains something of an outsider among the Avengers. As far as battling supervillains goes, he has rematches with Klaw and the Grim Reaper, as well as starting an interesting rivalry with his fellow monarch Doctor Doom. But we continue to wait for a more in-depth examination of Wakandan society.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale). Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Now continuing… The True History of the Black Panther!


January 1965 – T’Challa returns to Andrew Jackson High School in Harlem when the new semester starts and resumes his identity as teacher “Luke Charles,” wanting to finish up a few things before tendering his resignation and going home to Wakanda. He is concerned that his student Lonnie Carver continues to cut class consistently and remains a discipline problem. Feeling he has somehow failed the boy, T’Challa decides to try to find out where Lonnie goes when he skips school. However, the Black Panther is summoned to an Avengers meeting by Captain America and his new partner, the Falcon. When he arrives at Avengers Mansion, T’Challa is joined by Goliath, the Vision, Thor, Iron Man, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch. Cap and Falcon request assistance investigating a mystery in the Pacific Ocean, which they learned of while rescuing an old friend of the Falcon’s from a voodoo cult in New Orleans. T’Challa begs off, wanting to go back to Harlem to search for Lonnie. The Vision, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver also opt out, having promised Mister Fantastic they would keep an eye on the Baxter Building while the Fantastic Four are vacationing in Las Vegas. Even so, T’Challa feels that five superheroes should be enough for the mission Cap has proposed, and thus he returns to Harlem.

A few nights later, the Black Panther discovers Lonnie roaming the neighborhood with the Thunderbolts street gang. Bitterly disappointed, he decides to confront Lonnie about it the next time the boy is in class. Unfortunately, Lonnie does not show up for school at all over the next several days. The Black Panther checks on Lonnie’s home and finds that his older brother, Billy Carver, doesn’t seem to be living there anymore. He is disturbed, though, to overhear Lonnie on the phone discussing an upcoming warehouse robbery. T’Challa decides to delay his return to Wakanda in hopes that he can save Lonnie from a life of crime.

Held up by a routine Avengers meeting, the Black Panther is late arriving at the scene of the warehouse robbery and finds that Daredevil has already busted it up. However, Lonnie has been badly injured after driving a truck into a brick wall, so the two heroes rush him to the nearest hospital. While Lonnie is in surgery, the Black Panther and Daredevil go up to the roof to talk. T’Challa explains his history with the Carver brothers and his dual identity as “Luke Charles,” as well as revealing that he knows that Daredevil is Matt Murdock. When it seems that Lonnie has lost the will to live due to Billy having joined the Thunderbolts gang, Daredevil leads the Black Panther to another warehouse where they find Billy and the gang preparing to rob the local armory. The two heroes defeat the gang and rush Billy to Lonnie’s hospital room, where the older brother finally reveals that he was working undercover for the district attorney’s office to gather evidence against the Thunderbolts. With his faith in humanity restored, Lonnie’s condition begins to improve. The Black Panther and Daredevil then get a bite to eat at a nearby all-night diner, where they get to know each other better.

T’Challa leaves New York a day early when he learns that a long-dormant volcano in Wakanda has suddenly become active again. He tries to calm his panicky subjects and vows to investigate the cause of the disaster. Thus, he descends into the volcano, where he discovers a highly advanced tunnel-boring machine belonging to Doctor Doom. The Black Panther confronts Doom, who has come to steal vibranium from the sacred mound. Unfortunately, Doom easily overcomes his fellow monarch and has him chained up inside the machine. Realizing that Doom could trigger a catastrophic natural disaster by tunneling into the mound, T’Challa knows that he may have to match the tyrant’s ruthlessness in order to defeat him. Breaking free of his bonds, the Black Panther takes a weapon from one of Doom’s henchmen and threatens to fire into an exposed vein of unstable raw vibranium, which could set off a chain reaction that would destroy the entire nation. Determining that T’Challa would indeed sacrifice Wakanda to prevent him from enslaving the world, Doctor Doom accepts defeat and withdraws. As the tunnel-boring machine disappears into the earth, T’Challa breathes a sigh of relief, wondering if he really could have pulled the trigger.

T’Challa then presides over a lavish state funeral for his uncle N’Baza, the late regent. By strictly adhering to tradition, T’Challa hopes to reassure those among his subjects who have felt disconcerted by his modernization efforts. Then, knowing that attempts by supervillains such as Klaw and Doctor Doom to steal vibranium are likely to persist, he turns his attention to developing a weapon he calls a ‘vibrotron,’ which can weaponize vibranium by generating a metal-disintegrating beam. This is based on the properties of the vibranium alloy found in the Savage Land dubbed the ‘anti-metal’ by the British scientist Lord Plunder. T’Challa becomes very disturbed when he watches TV coverage of the Avengers testifying before a congressional subcommittee on their involvement with aliens from outer space. The conservative politician in charge of the proceedings, H. Warren Craddock, seems to go out of his way to cast suspicion on the Avengers, who are represented by Goliath, the Vision, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Rick Jones. The Fantastic Four also testify and are less than supportive of their fellow heroes, which T’Challa finds disappointing.

February 1965 – A few weeks later, T’Challa is contacted by the Vision after the Avengers find Hercules suffering from amnesia. Though he gives the matter his full attention, T’Challa is unable to come up with anything likely to help. Soon after, he is summoned by Rick Jones to rendezvous with all other members of the Avengers at Garrett Castle in England, home of the Black Knight. When he arrives, the Black Panther joins Captain America, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Hawkeye (who has abandoned the Goliath identity), the Vision, Thor, Iron Man, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and even the Hulk. The Black Knight leads them into the depths of the castle, where he summons up the spirit of his ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia, the original Black Knight of legend. Sir Percy’s ghost reveals how Ares, the Greek god of war, came into possession of the magical Ebony Blade and teamed up with the Enchantress to conquer three worlds: Earth, Asgard, and Olympus. Their first move was to transform the gods of Olympus into crystalline statues and banish Hercules to Earth, bereft of his memory. Unexpectedly, the Swordsman swings down from the rafters and claims his Avengers membership, demanding to help stop Ares. Captain America is not inclined to trust the Swordsman, but Thor accepts him into their ranks. The thunder god then chooses the Vision, Iron Man, the Black Knight, and the Hulk to accompany him to Olympus while the rest remain behind to guard Earth. The Black Panther’s squad soon detects an interdimensional portal opening in the center of London and speeds to the scene, where they find an army of demonic creatures pouring through a hole in space. The demons are quickly driven back into their own realm, at which point Thor’s squad emerges through the portal, having rescued Hercules and defeated the villains. However, Hercules must remain in Olympus to help Thor close the portal. Having won the day, the Avengers go their separate ways, and the Black Panther returns to Wakanda.

March 1965 – Not long after the vibrotron has been completed, a small plane crash-lands in the Wakandan jungle. Bucking tradition, T’Challa has its two passengers—a black man named Nathan Kumalo and a white man named Jeth Robards—brought to the palace to recover. However, the two men steal the vibrotron that night and flee the country. A palace guard reports that he overheard the thieves planning to meet with their buyer in Rhodesia, but he was discovered and knocked out before he could apprehend them. Frustrated, T’Challa suits up as the Black Panther and pursues the thieves into the British colony notorious for its white-supremacist government. Unfortunately, he is arrested in the capital city, Salisbury, and given a harsh sentence when the authorities assume his Black Panther costume marks him as a member of some secret terrorist sect. In prison, T’Challa worries that his subjects will attempt to invade Rhodesia and rescue him, possibly starting a war. He is relieved when the Thing and the Human Torch turn up instead to help him recover the vibrotron. The Black Panther, the Thing, and the Human Torch then track Robards—who has already betrayed his partner—to an abandoned factory, where the buyer turns out to be Klaw. The villain immediately attacks the three heroes, and, in the confusion, Robards tries to escape with the vibrotron in Klaw’s helicopter. Without hesitation, Klaw blows up the helicopter, killing Robards and destroying the vibrotron. The Thing crushes Klaw’s sonic blaster, after which he is easily defeated. Some white security guards appear and take Klaw into custody. They thank the Thing and the Human Torch for their help but ignore the Black Panther. Annoyed, the Thing smashes down a wall containing racially segregated doorways. T’Challa appreciates the gesture, and the three heroes leave the country together.

April–September 1965 – For the next six months, T’Challa focuses on governing Wakanda with the help of his royal advisors N’Gassi, Taku, and Zatama. He spends much of his time negotiating among the various factions in Wakandan society and comes to rely on the insights offered by W’Kabi, the hotheaded captain of the palace guard. The royal physician Mendinao is encouraged to bring his expertise in traditional herbalism to the new state-of-the-art medical facility, which is run by T’Challa’s young cousin Joshua Itobo, who has a degree in western medicine. With the traitor M’Baku in prison in America, T’Challa’s half-brother Jakarra has been promoted to a position of authority in the military, but the estranged siblings rarely speak to each other. T’Challa is concerned about rumors of unrest among the villages in the western hill country, though a multitude of other issues compete for his attention. When he needs a break, T’Challa retreats to his “technological jungle,” where he can indulge his fascination with high-tech gadgets.

October 1965 – Chafing under the yoke of kingship, T’Challa announces that he will be returning to the United States and rejoining the Avengers for a time, though he refuses to say how long he intends to stay away. He appoints N’Gassi to serve as regent during his absence, then departs. After settling in at his townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, T’Challa suits up as the Black Panther and walks over to Avengers Mansion. When he arrives, the Black Panther is immediately recruited for a mission to Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of South America, in search of the missing Quicksilver. The Scarlet Witch has learned that a trio of Chilean scientists doing research there has been abducted by strange men with superhuman powers, and she wants to check it out. Thus, the Black Panther joins the Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, the Vision, and Iron Man, as well as Thor and his Asgardian lover Sif, aboard a Quinjet for the flight south. Along the way, T’Challa gets caught up on what the Avengers have been doing since January. When they arrive, the team discovers a tunnel that leads them into the mysterious Savage Land. While making their way through the prehistoric jungle, they are attacked by the Savage Land Mutates—Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Lorelei, and Lupo. The Black Panther defeats Lupo while his teammates take care of the rest of their foes. Freeing the scientists, the Avengers march the Mutates out of the Savage Land and turn them over to the Chilean authorities to face kidnapping charges.

The next day, back at Avengers Mansion, T’Challa meets Thor’s other friends who have joined him in exile from Asgard—Fandral, Volstagg, Hogun the Grim, Balder the Brave, and Hildegarde, as well as two aliens called Tana Nile and Silas Grant. They are all currently staying at the mansion while they figure out what to do with themselves. Thor and Sif go off together, saying they have an important appointment elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Witch continues to search for clues to her brother’s disappearance. She soon calls the Black Panther, Hawkeye, and Iron Man into the communications room to show them a news broadcast their butler, Edwin Jarvis, had recorded while they were away. Suddenly, however, the console shorts out, and Iron Man discovers that the device has been completely rewired. Fandral, who has been hanging out there the whole time, insists that he saw no one sabotage the console. While Iron Man makes the necessary repairs, the other Avengers leave to check out the new lead, but it proves to be another dead end. Later, Thor reports that he and Spider-Man rewired the console while battling a group of Asgardian Trolls who had stopped time with a magic crystal.

A few days later, T’Challa receives a phone call from Daredevil, asking him to come out to San Francisco to help with a ruse to safeguard his secret identity. Since moving out to California, Daredevil explains, he has been seen in the company of the Black Widow in both his civilian and superhero identities, and people are starting to speculate. T’Challa agrees at once and takes a Quinjet out to the west coast. When he arrives, he disguises himself as Daredevil and fights off a Japanese assassin called the Blue Talon while Matt Murdock speaks with TV news crews on the scene. The Blue Talon is killed when he strikes a gas main with his steel hand blades, causing an explosion. The fake Daredevil then joins Murdock in front of the cameras and listens as he gives his elaborate cover story to the San Francisco police commissioner. After changing out of Daredevil’s costume, T’Challa returns to New York, glad to have been able to help a friend in need.

T’Challa looks up Monica Lynne to let her know he’s back in the states. He finds her still pursuing her career as a social worker while moonlighting as a nightclub singer in Harlem. True to her word, she is also very active in the civil rights movement. T’Challa and Monica start dating on a regular basis, but, being a very private person, he does not discuss his personal life with the Avengers.

On Halloween, the Black Panther joins the Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and Iron Man in Manhattan’s East Village to investigate yet another mysterious disappearance. However, they are tricked into fighting each other by the Space Phantom, whom T’Challa remembers reading about in the Avengers’ files. While the Avengers are distracted by the Space Phantom’s boasting about his convoluted revenge scheme, the Grim Reaper sneaks up and hits them with a paralysis beam. The four heroes are taken back to the villains’ lair and imprisoned in an anti-gravity field. The Black Panther is shocked when the Grim Reaper suggests that the Vision is working with them against the Avengers. He struggles to free himself from the anti-gravity trap, but to no avail.

November 1965 – Some hours later, the Black Panther is relieved when Captain America and the Vision come to the rescue. The Avengers then storm through the underground complex and fight with a horde of HYDRA agents under the Space Phantom’s command. Unfortunately, the Space Phantom’s alien technology is able to subdue the Avengers, and they soon find themselves trapped once again in the anti-gravity field. The villains leave to hunt down the Scarlet Witch, who has escaped. The Vision explains that the Grim Reaper had offered to use the Space Phantom’s machines to transfer the Vision’s mind into Captain America’s body, in exchange for help destroying the Avengers. The synthezoid decided to play along until he could devise a plan to defeat the villains. Soon, the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper return, having captured the Scarlet Witch, Rick Jones, and Edwin Jarvis. The Space Phantom decides to assume Rick’s form while he kills the heroes but is unexpectedly thrown back into Limbo due to Rick’s shared existence with Captain Marvel. Materializing in Rick’s place, the Kree-born superhero frees the Avengers, and they make short work of the HYDRA goons. The Grim Reaper surrenders, and he and his henchmen are all turned over to the authorities. When the team returns to Avengers Mansion, T’Challa is surprised to learn that the Vision and the Scarlet Witch have fallen in love.

A week or so later, T’Challa is shocked by reports that Hank and Janet Pym have apparently died in a house fire, but Ant-Man soon turns up alive, fighting with a supervillain called Doctor Nemesis in the lower levels of Avengers Mansion. When his foe is defeated, Ant-Man leads the Black Panther, Captain America, the Vision, and Iron Man to rescue the Wasp from a secret A.I.M. installation on Long Island. The Avengers then invite the Pyms to return to active duty, but they decline, saying they prefer their private lives.

December 1965 – Two days after Hawkeye abruptly disappears from Avengers Mansion, an oddly-worded letter arrives in the mail informing the team that the archer has accepted a business opportunity with a notorious corporate tycoon known as Champion. Knowing Hawkeye to be impulsive, T’Challa doesn’t think much of it.

A couple weeks later, the Black Panther attends the fourth annual Avengers Christmas charity benefit with Captain America, the Vision, Iron Man, and the Scarlet Witch. T’Challa decides not to invite Monica to the party at the mansion, but takes her out for a night on the town instead. After a day or so, the Scarlet Witch convinces her teammates that Hawkeye’s letter is a forgery and he may be in trouble. The Black Panther, the Vision, Thor, and Iron Man join her in traveling to California, where they find Hawkeye held prisoner by Champion in the Mojave Desert. The Avengers overcome Champion and his gang of masked henchmen and foil their plot to detonate a string of bombs along the San Andreas Fault. Hawkeye refuses to rejoin the team, though, so the Avengers leave him in California and fly back to New York.


Notes:

January 1965 – The Black Panther and Daredevil team up against the Thunderbolts street gang in Daredevil #69. The Avengers meeting takes place in Avengers #88. T’Challa then returns to Wakanda and battles Doctor Doom in Astonishing Tales #6–7. The U.S. government’s Alien Activities Commission is created by the newly inaugurated President Morris N. Richardson, who is actually the leader of the subversive organization known as the Secret Empire. The head of the commission, H. Warren Craddock (actually a Skrull in disguise), grills the Avengers during televised hearings in Avengers #92.

February 1965 – The Black Panther helps the Avengers foil Ares’ scheme of interdimensional conquest in Avengers #99–100.

March 1965 – The Black Panther teams up with the Thing and the Human Torch to battle Klaw in Fantastic Four #119. In the story, Rhodesia is fictionalized as “Rudyarda,” named after British author Rudyard Kipling, who wrote, among other things, the imperialist poem “The White Man’s Burden.” There’s also some nonsense about the Black Panther changing his name to “the Black Leopard,” but that can be dispensed with. Shortly after this, T’Challa finds himself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened.

October 1965 – The Black Panther returns to the Avengers in time to join them on their mission to the Savage Land in Avengers #105. While hiking out to the Swamp Men’s village, T’Challa tells his teammates the tales Daredevil heard from Ka-Zar about how Magneto created the Savage Land Mutates. I assume Daredevil told the Black Panther about it at the diner in January. T’Challa is behind the scenes during the “negative time” effect in Marvel Team-Up #7. Four days later, the Black Panther flies out to San Francisco to lend Daredevil a hand with his secret identity problems in Daredevil #92. The early days of T’Challa’s romance with Monica Lynne occur largely behind the scenes, as little attention was paid to his personal life during this period. The Black Panther is then captured along with his fellow Avengers by the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper in Avengers #106–107.

November 1965 – The Space Phantom / Grim Reaper story concludes in Avengers #108, during which T’Challa meets Captain Marvel for the first time. The Black Panther then appears in Marvel Feature #10 for the conclusion of Ant-Man’s brief revival series.

December 1965 – The Black Panther joins the Avengers in rescuing Hawkeye from the megalomaniac Champion in Avengers #109. The team’s annual Christmas charity benefit occurs behind the scenes, as usual.


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