What Marvel’z Black Panther Comic Meanz To A Bunch Of Afrikan Fanz

12 Apr



By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu

I read tons of superhero comics as a kid, mostly alongside Ibrahim Yakubu, my super-talented friend who should be up on the pantheon of global superstar artists but isn’t (story for another day). Aged about 9 or 10, we would with other kids, an informal group of geeks, voraciously read comicbooks ranging from our staples (Marvel and DC), to European fare like Tintin, Asterix and 2000 AD, Beano, Whizzer & Chips, Buster, Topper and loads more British publications. I would even raid my sister Adama’s stash of British girlie comics (no shame there, the stories in Bunty, Tammy and Mandy were cool and the art fantastic!) Many of us geeks “outgrew” comics, but a good number of us didn’t, even evolving into writers and artists, while discovering French masterpieces by Moebius, Jodorowsky, Jerome Charyn, Francois Boucq, Enki Bilal, and ahem, Manara to mention a few.



As a kid, it was awesome beyond words that a character like the Black Panther even existed, and many of my friends and I would create characters in the same mould as Marvel’s number one African superhero. I consumed every single appearance of his I could lay my hands on, mostly guest appearances or some issues during his Avengers days. I remember some Mighty World of Marvel appearances, too. Heck, I recall buying a Fantastic Four colouring book simply because there was a page, a black and white reproduction of a Jack Kirby masterpiece showing T’Challa, the Richards clan and friends duking it out with a villain I don’t remember now. I didn’t care where I found it, if it had the Black Panther, I would get it.

For those who don’t know (and I’m guessing they exist), the Black Panther is the first black superhero in mainstream American comics and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, first appearing in Fantastic Four #52 in July 1966. There was something about the character that spoke to me, and my being African. It made me feel proud, because he was noble. It made me feel confident, because he was powerful. And, also, it made me feel a sense of responsibility because, I mean, here’s a king with all the power you could imagine, but getting down and dirty being a superhero, fighting bad guys to save the world. To save me, and of course you. If a powerful monarch could be so selfless, what about a mere mortal like myself?


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