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When Was Black Panther First Referred to as the King of Wakanda?

In "When We First Met," we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Reader John M. wrote in to ask, "I noticed in When was Wakanda's location made public? that T'Challa introduced himself as "Chief of all Wakandas". So I wonder when did T'Challa or some other character introduce T'Challa as the King of Wakanda instead of "Chief", "Leader", or some other reference or title."

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Interesting question, John!

Sure enough, when we are first told about Black Panther in Fantastic Four #52, he is described as a chieftain...

We then see him in all of his finery and he continues to refer to himself as a chieftain...

When he recounts his origin the next issue, he talks about how his father before him was ALSO a chieftain...

After his initial appearance, Panther's next big appearance was in Fantastic Four Annual #5, where he is once more referred to as a chieftain...

He then has a significant role in the last Captain America storyline of Tales of Suspense before the title is re-named Captain America. Someone calling themselves Baron Zemo has attacked Wakanda and so T'Challa goes to get help from Captain America and he sends essentially a drone with a message to Captain America. Cap knows the great chief T'Challa...

Back in Wakanda, he is called chief...

The Captain America appearance was significant because it set-up Black Panther moving to the United States to take over Captain America's place on the Avengers. When he arrives in Avengers #52, he is referred to as a chieftain...

Eventually (after the Panther, of course, is welcomed into the Avengers), he takes his new friends to his home in Wakanda and his is still called a chieftain at first, but also, for the first time he is referred to as a "Prince," which really doesn't make any sense, right?...

Black Panther eventually leaves the Avengers for a spell. During this period, he is unlawfully detained in a racist country and so in Fantastic Four #119, the Thing and the Human Torch go to rescue him. For some reason, it is like they went out of their way to avoid a specific title for him in the comic, as he is just referred to as the "Great T'Challa"...

and as a monarch...

Black Panther rejoins the Avengers and now he is going by "Prince" again, but almost as if it is a nickname, "Prince of the Wakandas"...

But when he leaves the Avengers to return to Wakanda, he maintains the use of the title "Prince." Since his dad is dead, it is a strange title to use...

He shows up in Wakanda in Jungle Action #6 and writer Don McGregor is quick to have him call himself the King of Wakanda...

The terms chieftain and king are used interchangeably in this opening story line of McGregor's iconic run on Jungle Action...

So there ya go, John! It shouldn't be surprising that it would be McGregor, as he clearly redefined the character in the 1970s.

Thanks for the suggestion, John!

If anyone else has a question/suggestion for a notable comic book first, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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