Ch-ch-check it! This list was actually created as a submission to The Greatest Black Panther Stories Ever Told contest over on the Comics Should be Good! blog (see their top 10 choices for best BP stories).
However, since I wrote such a grand set of justifications for my choices, I thought I’d share them as a two-part The Top 9!
Oddly enough, all the choices on this first part of the list are fairly modern, whilst all of my part two selections lean towards the classic. Coincidence or conspiracy? You be the judge!
Honorable Mention: “Enemy of the State” – Black Panther v3 #6-12 (Honestly, I don’t LOVE these issues like my other choices. But I do think they’re important. Why? Because they took the tone established in Christopher Priest’s first BP story arc and spun it into Marvel Universe reality. The revelation that Panther joined the Avengers to spy on them is twisted and hard to stomach, but it’s also fascinating. While I wouldn’t recommend these issues to anyone as their first Panther read, I do feel they’re great for die-hard fans.)
09. “Two the Hard Way” – Black Panther v4 #10-11 (Okay, look, there are a lot of problems with Reggie Hudlin’s take on the Black Panther. But these two BP-Cage team-up issues are just plain fun. Read and enjoy! There’s nothing else to it.)
08. “See Wakanda and Die” – Black Panther v4 #39-41 (Eerie, disturbing, and thrilling, Jason Aaron and Jefte Palo deliver this stunning T’Challa tale as a tie-in to the Secret Invasion event. It’s hard to put into words how gripping this quick story arc is… it’s one of the most morbid BP tales I can think of, and definitely puts a somber end to the more happy-go-lucky Black Panther v4 series. The art is beautiful, the writing is smart, and the characters are endearing. But not TOO endearing. Black Panther and Storm become savage defenders of Wakanda who almost seem more fit for a Marvel MAX book than this mostly all-ages BP series.)
07. “Reconstruction” – Fantastic Four v1 #544-550 (This seven-part story is often overlooked by many fans, partly because it fell under the far-too-broad Initiative banner, and partly because it was a temporary dismantling of the classic Fantastic Four lineup. But that’s what makes this Dwanye McDuffie, Paul Pelletier, and Rick Magyar story so much fun! BP essentially becomes the interim leader of the FF for this story arc and leads them on a massive cosmic journey. It’s a rare chance to see BP rely on others in such a serious way. It’s also an opportunity to see the great Dwayne McDuffie deliver his take on the Wakandan hero. Overall, I think this is the most underrated set of issues on this list. If you like big cosmic action AND the Black Panther, then you’ll dig this.)
06. “World Tour” – Black Panther v4 #19-22 (T’Challa and Storm decide to spend their honeymoon by crisscrossing the globe and making alliances with other powerful Marvel characters in light of the impending events of Civil War. This story arc actually got split as a post-wedding tale and a Civil War tie-in in terms of branding and TPBs, but if you look at the issues, it’s really one four-part arc. It’s Hudlin at his best with T’Challa, making him clever, diplomatic, and dignified. Manuel Garcia turns in some INCREDIBLE art work that blew my mind back when I first read this story. I know Hudlin has his detractors, but even the biggest haters would be hard-pressed to hate this entire tale. Really, the only flaw is the uneven Doom characterization in #19, which is fairly negligible in my opinion.)
Be back next week for part 2 a.k.a. the thrilling continuation to The Top 9 Greatest Black Panther Tales!!!