By Jim Beard
Though silent and stealthy as his namesake, the Black Panther possesses several foes that often dog his every step. You can count Erik Killmonger chief among them.
Literally an enemy who cheats death itself, Killmonger forever strives to wrest the remote and beautiful African nation of Wakanda from King T'Challa, the Black Panther and make it "pure." Born N'Jadaka, he matches the Panther in all aspects, mentally and physically, existing as an evil doppelganger to T'Challa's stately goodness.
The perpetual struggle between the two men roils and boils like the jungle itself, destined to continue through life—and death. It continues even now, in the pages of writer Reginald Hudlin's BLACK PANTHER, but for the moment, follow if you dare on a short jaunt through a few of Killmonger's greatest campaigns against the avenging Black Panther.
JUNGLE ACTION #17 (1975)
Throughout the epic "Panther's Rage" storyline, begun in JUNGLE ACTION #6, Killmonger sought to undermine T'Challa's monarchy by both guile and outright hostilities. The Panther fought and defeated countless troops of the unrelenting insurgent, including Baron Macabre, Lord Karnaj, Malice, and Salamander K'ruel. Ultimately, the battle devolved to T'Challa versus Killmonger directly and though the two opponents matched one another in ability and warrior cunning, the Panther's devious foe ultimately fell—and paid for his folly with his life.
IRON MAN ANNUAL #5 (1982)
Scheduled to dedicate a new research plant, a visiting Tony Stark found Wakanda embroiled in yet another Killmonger coup attempt. Resurrected by the Mandarin, the former N'Jadaka's attempted assassination of the Black Panther culled only a clever Life Model Decoy and the real T'Challa revealed himself, hale and hearty. As Iron Man valiantly battled to save the life of Jim Rhodes, the Panther treated Killmonger to a protracted and particularly brutal beat-down. Vanquished once again, the evil chieftain's animated corpse melted into its previous state of dust and bones.
BLACK PANTHER v2 #20 (2000)
While Wakanda teetered on the verge of economic ruin, T'Challa and Killmonger fought for over 13 hours in a "tribal challenge," wearing each other down and hoping the other would yield. The again reborn Killmonger's most recent attempt at takeover of the secluded nation had forced the Black Panther to enact horrendously stringent policies in his homeland that crashed stock markets around the globe. The long, arduous fight illuminated Killmonger's lifelong grudge against the man he felt ultimately unworthy to rule Wakanda. An unexpected appearance by Everett Ross, T'Challa's appointed American regent, gave the upper hand to Killmonger and he savagely defeated the Panther, finally gaining the control of Wakanda he had so long sought.
BLACK PANTHER v3 #35 (2008)
With Black Panther and his wife Storm away with the Fantastic Four, Killmonger once again set his eye on the throne, this time as a U.S. government operative with orders to "contain Wakanda." Once returned, T'Challa discovered his old rival in the neighboring country of Niganda, attempting to win the hearts and minds of its people and bring them "into the 21st century." As the Panther prepared himself for yet another confrontation with Killmonger, he shockingly learned that his enemy had kidnapped T'Challa's own sister and defeated fellow super hero and Avenger Monica Rambeau.
#36 cover art by
With Wakanda's borders threatened and the Black Panther's own family and friends in dire straights, it doesn't look too good for T'Challa. Having no real fear of death or defeat, Killmonger's status as a worthy foe magnifies a thousand fold and the Panther cannot afford to allow him the upper hand once more. A battle royal a'brewin'? Bet on it!
BLACK PANTHER #36 swings into shops this Wednesday, April 30—be there or Wakanda may crumble without you! And while you wait, catch up on T'Challa's adventures with Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.