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The Strange, Short-Lived History of Black Panther’s Cowl

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
The Strange, Short-Lived History of Black Panther’s Cowl

In every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without actively retconnng away the previous story. Feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

This is one of the unique instances where the one doing the abandoning was the same person who came up with the plot point!

As you may or may not know, when Jack Kirby originally designed Black Panther (we’re talking after he decided not to call him the Coal Tiger. The Coal Tiger had a COMPLETELY different look), he wanted him to wear a cowled costume, like Batman.

The problem was that Marvel wasn’t sure if the South would distribute the comic book if their new black hero was explicitly black on the cover. So they decided to cover up the cowl and make it a full face mask.

While the reasons behind the change suck, it’s fair to say that the full face mask costume is definitely more visually striking than the cowled one. So they ended up with a better costume, just for bad reasons.

Anyhow, in Tales of Suspense #98 (by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Joe Sinnott), Black Panther teamed up with Captain America, still rocking his original costume…

Cap, who had taken a leave of absence from the Avengers, suggested to T’Challa that he should take Cap’s place on the Avengers. So Black Panther headed off to New York.

This led to Avengers #52 (by Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Vince Colletta), when T’Challa shows up in New York to join the Avengers. However, now he is calling himself just “The Panther” and his face is now partially exposed. He sadly arrives just in time to be framed for the murder of the Avengers…

Note the fact that the news covered the Panther’s arrest and everyone saw him get arrested AND saw him escape from custody. That will matter soon.

Okay, so after going with the cowl for a few issues, Black Panther goes back to the full face mask in Avengers #56 and does not look back.

So, you might think that this is simply like the whole “Calling himself the Panther for a couple of issues before going back to Black Panther” deal, right? I covered that in an edition of If I Pass This Way Again, which is for plot points that are introduced and then just never really mentioned again. This column, though, is for things that are actively abandoned. In other words, if a comic book introduces Daredevil’s cousin and then just never mentions her again, then that would be If Pass This Way Again. If a comic book introduces Daredevil’s cousin and then a later comic book says that, oh, no that was just a family friend, not his cousin, then it was abandoned.

In this instance, unlike the whole “calling himself Panther” bit, there was a later Avengers storyline that made it so that the events of Avengers #52 essentially HAD to be abandoned.

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