Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and sixty-seventh week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
Marvel canceled Black Panther’s first ongoing series in Jungle Action to make room for a Jack Kirby Black Panther series.
I’m Going With True
Towards the end of 1977, Black Panther’s first ongoing series, Jungle Action, ended with issue #24 (following a reprint issue for #23)…
Just two months later, a brand-new Black Panther series was launched written and penciled by Black Panther’s co-creator, Jack Kirby…
Naturally, the close timing between the end of one series and the start of the other led many to believe that Jungle Action specifically ended to make room for Kirby’s series. Kirby famously at the time wanted nothing to do with any Marvel character that he did not create, he didn’t want to re-visit his two most famous Marvel series (Fantastic Four and Thor) and he didn’t want to push people out of regular gigs. So he took over Captain America, which was an available title and he did a bunch of new series. Plus, he did Black Panther.
The reason Black Panther qualified for Kirby’s personal rules upon his return to Marvel was the fact that Jungle Action was canceled before it wad given to Kirby as an option.
Don McGregor’s Black Panther stories are now very well-regarded, but back in the 1970s, they were a bit of a niche taste, sales-wise. When you are selling books only on newsstands, you sort of have to go broad with everything. If McGregor’s Black Panther had been a direct market series, it likely would have gone over better.
In any event, the sales weren’t amazing (the book never sold enough to get past bj-monthly status – and McGregor often had deadline issues so they possibly couldn’t even have MADE the book monthly if they wanted to) and in Jungle Action #22, they are pretty clear in the letter column that the book was selling poorly enough that it was on its last legs…
And in the final issue, they are explicit about why it was canceled – it just wasn’t selling well enough.
It’s interesting that they got in a little dig at McGregor for deadline issues as to why they didn’t get a chance to wrap the Klan storyline up before the book was canceled (as the story that became #24 was meant for #23 before deadline issues forced #23 to become a reprint issue).
Now, was the move perhaps pushed up by a month or two to make room for Kirby’s incoming reboot? Possibly, but Jungle Action was not canceled for Kirby’s Black Panther. It was always going to be canceled.
Kirby’s Black Panther also didn’t set the world on fire, sales-wise. The old joke was that McGregor had his niche and Kirby had his niche and if only they had the both niches come together, maybe the book would sell.
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed – What was going to happen with the baby in the Lois and Clark finale had the series continued?
OK, that’s it for this week!
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