Welcome to the five hundred and seventieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, how close did we come to seeing the Black Panther debut in his own solo series FIFTY years ago? Did Nightwing almost get his own movie in the late 1990s? And did DC Comics prevent James Robinson from fulfilling the Hawkman prophecy in Starman?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Black Panther almost debuted in his own solo ongoing series in 1965!
It’s interesting to think about how you’ll often see people complain about what they feel to be Marvel “shoehorning” the Inhumans into Marvel’s other popular properties, because that is actually how the Inhumans first came about! Fans have always marveled over that crazy stretch of the Fantastic Four from late 1965 through mid 1966 where Jack Kirby and Stan Lee introduced the Inhumans, Silver Surfer and Galactus AND the Black Panther, all within one ten issue block of issues (with the classic one-off issue, “This Man, This Monster,” worked in there, for good measure)…
That’s a ton of new characters. And, as it turns out, it was more than even Kirby and Lee were intending to introduce!
You see, in 1965, there was a bit of a superhero boom period, with a number of comic book companies debuting their own superhero groups of titles, including Archie Comics and M.F. Enterprises. Marvel, too, wanted to expand their superhero lines. However, in the end, they were constrained by the distribution deal they were under where their chief competitor, DC Comics, kept their line of comics artificially low (as detailed in an oooooooooold Comic Book Legends Revealed).
In 1968, Marvel finally broke out of that deal, but they first tried in 1965, when all the other companies were debuting their superhero lines. When Marvel thought that they had a chance at having more new comics, two of the new titles were going to be the Inhumans and Black Panther (originally called Coal Tiger).
When DC wouldn’t allow them to alter their deal, Kirby and Lee were forced instead to just have the characters debut in the pages of Fantastic Four instead, and therefore, the Black Panther debuted in Fantastic Four #52 instead…
Here is Kirby’s initial take on the Black Panther, back when he was called Coal Tiger…
Can you imagine a superhero book starring a black character in 1965? That would have been quite an interesting change in comic book history.
Luckily, the Black Panther has had a number of ongoing titles in the years since, including a great new one by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze that debuted this week…
Thanks to the Jack Kirby Museum for the information about how close we came to comic book history.
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
On the next page, how close did we come to a Nightwing movie in the late 1990s?
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