What really made “Killmonger” stand out in Black Panther was the fact that he had one of the most understandable motives behind all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe villains to this point. He was still clearly a bad guy, but he was a bad guy who at least had a bit of a method (and reason) to his madness. He brought up some legitimately good points. He just happened to do so in an evil way, driven from a desire for revenge more than anything else.
However, what also stood out about Killmonger is just how impressive he was as a fighter and a planner in the film. Until well into the film, he makes Black Panther look bad as he continuously bests him at every turn. This, of course, is based on Killmonger’s comic book history. He is famous in the comics for just how impressive he is in terms of tested battle prowess. Here, then, is an examination of the 15 most impressively over powered moments in Killmonger’s comic book history.
- Center image in feature cover by Stephen Schirle.
15. FASTER THAN BLACK PANTHER!
In Black Panther #37 (by Reginald Hudlin, Francis Portela and Val Staples), Black Panther has to enter the neighboring country of Niganda to rescue his sister, Shuri, who had been captured by Killmonger, who was using the people of Niganda to support his attempt to invade Wakanda (along with an army of mutated animals).
Black Panther shows up and the two men end up fighting, as they often do. The throw-down shows just how shockingly quick Killmonger is for such a big guy — as soon as Black Panther kicks at him, he is able to dodge the kick, grab Panther and then deliver a brutal knee to T’Challa’s chest. This was obviously just the start of a much bigger fight (which is why it is so low on the list) but it shows just why Killmonger is so difficult for Black Panther to face.
14. EASILY KILLS BLACK PANTHER’S BODYGUARDS
Over the Edge was a novel concept that Marvel tried out in 1995 where they would do a 99 cent comic book title starring its “Edge” line of comic book characters (Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Doctor Strange and Hulk). This was back when Marvel briefly split its comic book universe into five different “lines;” of which, this would serve as a cheap introduction for new readers to the heroes in the line.
In a Daredevil/Black Panther team-up in Over the Edge #6 (by Ralph Macchio, Robert E. Brown and Mike Witherby), Killmonger makes a shocking return from the dead (with a rather convoluted reason why we saw his bare skeleton the last time he showed up in a comic book) and kills two of Black Panther’s highly trained bodyguards in a matter of seconds.
13. NEW BLACK PANTHER NOT EVEN A THREAT
At the end of Christopher Priest’s epic run on Black Panther, the folks at Marvel decided that they wanted to shake things up in the series. So, they introduced a brand-new Black Panther. Kasper Cole was a half black/half Jewish New York City detective who suddenly found himself thrust into the world of superheroes when he is told that he is the new Black Panther. In the final storyline in the series, Cole decides to fully “ascend” to be the official Black Panther.
He has to defeat Killmonger, however, and in Black Panther #61 (by Priest, Jim Calafiore and Norm Rapmund) it is made clear that Killmonger can kill him in seconds. It is so obvious that they instead work out a deal where Kasper gains powers (from an artificial version of the herb that gives Black Panther powers) and instead became the White Tiger
12. FASTER THAN DEADPOOL
In a major story arc in the middle of his epic Black Panther run, Christopher Priest had Killmonger briefly take over as Black Panther (if it came out today, it could have been called The Superior Black Panther) and even ostensibly join the Avengers in T’Challa’s place. Obviously, the Avengers don’t just let him join, but right when he shows up, Deadpool also shows up as he has been hired to kill Killmonger.
In Deadpool #44 (drawn by Jim Calafiore and on Holdredge and written by Priest, as part of a crossover between the two titles), Deadpool teleports both the Avenger Triathlon and Killmonger’s pet leopard, Preyy. Killmonger quickly disarms Deadpool, but he can’t kill him because Deadpool has his pet leopard, so we never know for sure if Killmonger or Deadpool would have won.
11. SURVIVES A MISSILE ATTACK
The problem with Killmonger taking over a country that is one of Wakanda’s neighbors is that T’Challa had to use special care to not make the incident worse than it already was. For instance, even acknowledging Killmonger’s control of the country would, in and of itself, be a major political move that would give Killmonger more power.
So T’Challa decided to try to take him out with a long range attack that would avoid having to make a personal appearance in Wiganda (which, also, would be a tough political move for Black Panther). However, in Black Panther #36 (by Reginald Hudlin, Francis Portela and Val Staples), Killmonger surprises Black Panther by having a special force field that could survive a direct ballistic missile hit.
10. THROWS BLACK PANTHER OFF A WATERFALL
Killmonger had one of the most striking villain debuts in comic book history. He first appeared in Jungle Action #6 (by Don McGregor, Rich Buckler and Klaus Janson), the first issue of Black Panther’s very first solo series. The first four issues had been reprints of old jungle comic book stories from the 1950s and the fifth issue was a reprint of an Avengers issue starring Black Panther to get people ready for his new series in the following issue.
Black Panther finally returns to Wakanda, only to discover that one of the villages is in open revolt, let by Erik Killmonger. Black Panther thinks that this will be a simple thing to put down, but he is shocked when Killmonger is surprisingly difficult to defeat. Things get even crazier when Killmonger actually throws him off a waterfall! Talk about a first issue… cliffhanger!
9. WINS RITUAL COMBAT IN LESS THAN FIVE SECONDS
After defeating T’Challa and earning the right to become the new Black Panther, Killmonger had to go through the various rituals of the Wakanda people to get his full abilities that he received due to being the new Black Panther in Black Panther #24 (by Christopher Priest, M.D. Bright and Walden Wong). One of the first things he had to go through was ritual combat. However, since he was already an advanced being, physically, they decided to ramp up the ritual combat to give them more powerful weapons.
Killmonger shocked everyone by not just winning his ritual combat, but blowing through it with embarrassing ease, achieving his victory in less than five seconds! He was on a whole other skill level when it came to fighting in this comic book series.
8. IMPERVIOUS TO KLAW’S ATTACK
As we mentioned, Killmonger returned to life in Over the Edge #6. Christopher Priest later retconned this return by saying that it was actually a case of the Killmonger in this story being a creation of Klaw. That doesn’t really make sense, though, because while Killmonger does work with Klaw — which caused a big problem for Priest in terms of the story, since Klaw had forced Killmonger into slavery as a child, making their team-up seem a bit unlikely — they actually work against each other at one point.
Klaw decides to turn on Killmonger, but the latter is too clever, as he has worked up a Vibranium medallion system to make himself impervious to Klaw’s attack. Later, Black Panther uses the same medallion to stop Klaw and save the day.
7. TAKES DOWN AN ELEPHANT BY HIMSELF
As noted before, Christopher Priest decided to ignore the Over the Edge explanation for Killmonger’s return and go with his own. Thus, when Killmonger shows up in Black Panther #15 (by Priest, Sal Velluto and Bob Almond), it is a major surprise to see him back from the dead.
Priest, at the time, was using Everett Ross as his point of view character, with Ross’ reactions meant to introduce the readers to the strange world of Wakanda. Ross, who is serving as an interim chieftain for T’Challa, is on a ceremonial elephant hunt when he decides he can’t go through with it. He lets the elephant loose, but that was obviously a bad idea, as the elephant then tries to stampede them. Killmonger shows up, though, and wrestles the elephant to the ground in a shocking display of strength.
6. ALMOST KILLS BLACK PANTHER
Eventually, Black Panther’s attempts to work out a situation in Niganda that did not involve him actually having to enter the country to fight Killmonger. When this failed, the two had a ceremonial fight. They each wore special armor for their ritual combat, with Killmonger seemingly brutalizing T’Challa along the way. This included using a special weapon to magnetize T’Challa’s sword and repel it from T’Challa’s armor!
The weapons were provided by the United States, as the U.S. was curious to see if Killmonger could de-stabilize Wakanda, adding a new wrinkly into the fight. It seems like Killmonger was about to kill T’Challa when the Avenger Monica Rambeau stepped into the battle. Later, T’Challa would tell her that he had a plan, but it is hard to tell if that was the truth or not. He looked in bad shape.
5. TOSSES BLACK PANTHER AROUND LIKE A RAG DOLL
The reason that Killmonger believed that he could possibly take down T’Challa is because Killmonger discovered that if you ignited Vibranium into a cauldron and placed a person above the fumes, the special metal would give off strange radiation that would transform people and give them super powers. Killmonger called these people his Death Regiments.
In Jungle Action #12 (by Don McGregor, Billy Graham and Klaus Janson), Black Panther tracked Killmonger down to his hidden lair and attempted to get his revenge on his earlier defeat. Killmonger was briefly surprised and then quickly recovered and simply tossed Black Panther into the cauldron! Luckily, Panther contorted his body and was able to survive, but was then knocked out by one of the Death Regiments named Sombre.
4. STRONG ENOUGH TO EVEN MOVE IRON MAN’S ARMOR
The first time that Killmonger came back from the dead was in Iron Man Annual #5 (by Peter B. Gillis, Ralph Macchio, Jerry Bingham and Dan Green), where Killmonger showed up in Wakanda trying to take the country over, with the assistance of Madame Slay. Tony Stark was already in the area for some business negotiations with King T’Challa, so Iron Man teamed up with Black Panther to stop the attempted coup.
During their battle with Killmonger, the villain actually managed to affect Iron Man’s armor, showing a shocking level of strength! However, Iron Man then identified the ring that Killmonger was wearing and realized that Mandarin was behind this coup. It turned out that the ring had re-animated Killmonger. Mandarin pulled his support and Killmonger went back to being dead.
3. CAPTURED A CAPTAIN MARVEL
As noted earlier, Black Panther had a difficult situation to deal with when Killmonger took over nearby Niganda, kidnapped T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, and threatened to invade Wakanda. This wasn’t a typical superhero/supervillain battle where Black Panther could just waltz over and punch him (well, at least not without trying something else first, of course). Therefore, Black Panther decided to enlist his old friend, fellow Avenger Monica Rambeau, and hoped that her ability to turn into energy could allow her to fly in, rescue Shuri and get out.
However, in Black Panther #35 (by Reginald Hudlin, CAFU and Francis Portela), Killmonger shocked everyone by actually being prepared for Monica’s attack. He not only had a force field to protect himself from her but it allowed him to capture Monica, as well! So now he actually increased the amount of hostages he had!
2. NEARLY BREAKS BLACK PANTHER’S BACK
After his second defeat at the hands of Killmonger (and his Death Regiments), Black Panther was ready to take him on for a third and final time in Jungle Action #17 (by Don McGregor and Billy Graham). Black Panther sought a rematch at Warriors Falls. This time, Black Panther fought with a severity that he had never used before and seemingly managed to actually gain the upper hand early in their match.
Killmonger, however, turned things around in an instant and once again, he had Black Panther trapped high over his head, threatening to throw him over the cliff again. This time, however, he decided that he would just break his back. Luckily for T’Challa, though, a young boy that he had rescued earlier in the storyline (and who Killmonger had treated cruelly) decided that he had enough and ran up and pushed Killmonger off the cliff.
1. KILLS BLACK PANTHER
In Black Panther #20 (by Christopher Priest, Sal Velluto and Bob Almond), Black Panther and Killmonger have yet another ceremonial fight. This one, though, is the fight to end all fights. They fought for more than a day. Whenever either one of them grew tired, they would call off the fight and then rest some until they would pick the fight up again.
This was the fight to decide who would rule Wakanda and they each took it very seriously. However, the long fight had dulled T’Challa’s senses enough that when Everett Ross returned to Wakanda, his arrival distracted T’Challa and Killmonger pounced. He then pounded on T’Challa’s chest and actually stopped T’Challa’s heart! Luckily, T’Challa was revived, but not before Ross yielded the fight to Killmonger (otherwise, Killmonger would just attack the barely resuscitated T’Challa and kill him).
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