Monday, July 14, 2008

1970's Flashback: Jungle Action starring The Black Panther

After reprinting several issues of 1950's Atlas Comics featuring white jungle lords wearing loin cloths, Marvel Comics converted their second series of Jungle Action into an ongoing feature spotlighting actual African hero & former Avenger, The Black Panther, beginning in issue #5 (which actually reprinted a Black Panther solo tale from Avengers #62).

However, starting in Jungle Action #6 and continuing until issue #18, writer Don McGregor and artists such as Rich Buckler, Gil Kane & Billy Graham; assisted on inks by Klaus Jansen & Bob McLeod, treated readers to a two-year, thirteen part epic called "Panther's Rage" which modern critics consider to be Marvel's first graphic novel.

T'Challa, as the Panther was also known, was the king of the hidden, technological nation of Wakanda, who struggled to suppress a revolution against him within his own tiny country. A second multi-part story arc which began in issue #19, pitted the Black Panther against the Ku Klux Klan, but it was considered controversial within the Marvel offices and the storyline was uncompleted when Jungle Action was cancelled with issue #24 (Nov. 1976).

That wasn't the end for the Black Panther though. Jack Kirby soon launched a Black Panther series which ran for fifteen issues beginning in January 1977, and the character has undergone a popular revival in recent years, with King T'Challa even taking the X-Men's Storm as his queen.

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