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 Chaim K. wrote in to ask:
Assuming that the MCU movies are true to the comics in this regard, when did the Black Panther’s costume become some vibranium-laced super-armor? I’d read Marvel Comics for a long time in the 80’s and 90’s and as far as I recall, it was simple cloth.
As Chaim notes, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther’s costume being made out of a sort of vibranium-cloth mesh is a huge part of the character, making him protected from a lot of situations that would otherwise result in him getting injured.
However, in the old days. Black Panther’s costume was simply made out of ceremonial cloth. This was shown when he first had his own solo feature and his costume would be torn up on pretty much every other cover (it DOES look really cool, to be fair)…
So the question at first is simply whether the vibranium costume WAS an invention for the Marvel Cinematic Universe or not. The answer to that is nope, it was originally a comic book thing.
Okay, so when did it first show up in comic books?
That would be in 1998’s Black Panther #1, the beginning of Christopher Priest’s epic run on Black Panther for Marvel Knights…
Here it is in action in that first issue…
It’s interesting to note, really, how much of what we know of Black Panther’s history was first introduced in the late 1990s in Christopher Priest’s run. The Dora Milaje, for instance, debuted during his run. Really, it is surprising that it took until the late 1990s for someone to work Vibranium into the Panther’s costume. One of the whole deals about Wakanda is the fact that it IS the biggest producers of Vibranium in the world, so it makes sense that he would work the material into his costume for the sake of protecting him.
Not only that, but Priest also came up with the idea of using the Vibranium in his suit to do other stuff, like allow him to jump out of building and land on his feet, allowing the Vibranium in his soles to absorb the impact…
Anyhow, since that point, it’s been a pretty consistent part of the Black Panther’s wardrobe (as, well, obviously, once you add a bulletproof suit to your setup, it doesn’t really make sense to go away from it).
Thanks for the suggestion, Chaim! If anyone else has a suggestion for a notable comic book first that you’d like to know, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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