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How Black Panther Expanded The Wakandan Empire To Space

July 17, 2020 1.7k views14 items

When a world-renowned author like Ta-Nehisi Coates gets the chance to take on a character like Black Panther, comic fandom sits up and takes notice. The author of acclaimed books like Between the World and Me and The Water Dancer was sure to take both T'Challa and Wakanda to new heights, and he definitely didn't disappoint. Coates' multi-year run on Black Panther resulted in rave reviews and fan acclaim. 

The author's take on the Panther is a heady and complicated tale of politics, humanity, and morality - with plenty of superhero kicking and punching as well. This is less of a "crash, bang, boom" kind of a comic book and more of a dialogue-laced, slow burn. Coates' time on Black Panther spreads over two separate volumes playing with vastly different settings and ideas, but focusing on themes of heroism, statesmanship, and ethics. So, let's take a ride through the past few years of Coates' run on Black Panther with a few pit stops to see what else T'Challa has been up to in Marvel Comics at large. 

  • T'Challa Fought Dual Uprisings From 'The People' And Former Dora Milaje

    Aneka and Ayo, former Dora Milaje and members of the elite Midnight Angels group, rebelled against the unchecked power of T'Challa's rule and the corrupt actions of certain groups in Wakanda that were going unpunished by the busy king. The People were a revolutionary group led by Tetu, a man with nature manipulation powers, and Zenzi, a woman with immense empathic powers. This group also looked to overthrow T'Challa's rule.

    You'd think these two factions might find common ground in their pursuit to dethrone T'Challa, but you'd be wrong. When the former Dora Milaje and the People could not work together, Tetu and Zenzi reached out to another ally: the villainous Zeke Stane, best known for his antagonism to Iron Man. Not exactly the kind of company you'd like to keep, even if you're the kind of person who's interested in overthrowing a government.

  • T'Challa First Noticed Something Was Wrong In Wakanda When He Fought Mind-Controlled Miners

    During the opening of the very first issue of Coates' run on Black Panther, T'Challa ran afoul of a group of Wakandan miners. The king's diplomatic trip took a turn when T'Challa and his guards were overrun by the angry workers. This moment opened the Panther's eyes to the disquiet of his people and set the stage for what Coates intended to do with the series: shake up T'Challa's status quo.

    When faced with the anger of his own people, T'Challa guessed their unrest had a specific origin: "Deceivers are loose in my kingdom. And so the hate spreads." He was correct, as it turned out, as they were being emotionally manipulated by the empath Zenzi.

  • He Called On 'The Crew' For Help

    When you're the monarch of the most technologically advanced civilization in the world as well as a superpowered hero, you're bound to make friends with some pretty cool people along the way. When T'Challa's back was up against the wall with the dissidents in his country, his buddies Luke Cage, Storm, Misty Knight, and Manifold, collectively known as the Crew, came to his aid.

    After saving T'Challa from capture, the group decided it would be best to disband; Wakandans might not look kindly outsiders coming into their country and cleaning things up. T'Challa agreed.

  • He Brought His Sister, Shuri, Back From A Spiritual Plane

    During a battle with Thanos' Cabal before Coates' run on Black Panther, T'Challa's sister, Shuri, became trapped in an amber construct and was put into a sort of frozen stasis. While her body remained in this state, her spirit traveled the Djalia, the plane of ancient memory. She went on a journey of enlightenment with a spirit that took the form of her mother, Ramonda.

    Using his intelligence and the unmatched technological prowess of his people, T'Challa powered up Manifold's teleporting abilities in order to travel to the Djalia and bring Shuri's spirit back. Upon her return, she proposed that her brother should appeal to Wakandan philosopher Changamire to bring peace back to the country.