WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Black Panther #17, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Joe Sabino and Daniel Acuña, on sale now.
Black Panther has finally moved away from the intergalactic story Ta-Nehisi Coates was crafting, returning T'Challa to Wakanda in the Marvel Prime Universe as king. T'Challa made his way back through a wormhole and is once more overseeing his nation after being an amnesiac slave in a galaxy far, far away. However, the villain from that alternate reality, N'Jadaka, followed the king through the rift as well, aiming to continue their feud after his evil army was blown up.
What makes their rivalry all the more intriguing is now N'Jadaka, possessed by a deadly symbiote, has dug up the one thing he needs to truly become T'Challa's equal again: his own dead body, that of Erik Killmonger from the Marvel-616.
Now, there's a bit to unpack here because the N'Jadaka who's infiltrated Wakanda grew up in the space empire and wasn't time-displaced like T'Challa was; he's on this journey, seeking his daughter out on Earth. Ironically, the panther god B'ast has possessed the little girl, but N'Jadaka -- who was overtaken by the symbiote in space on an expedition that led to a coup and him seizing power -- isn't giving up at all.
Fused to the symbiote, he haunts different victims, jumping from body to body, including taking over T'Challa's friend, Changamire, and savoring every moment of it. N'Jadaka's essence and mind is in the symbiote suit so he's in total control of Changamire, which leads to an alliance with the former rebels who wanted to take over Wakanda too, Zenzi and Tetu -- two folks with a burning hatred for the kingdom. It's when they get to Niganda that the truth emerges, however, as they intend to unearth the body of Killmonger from a tomb.
Clearly, the symbiote is drawn to its alternate body and wants to resurrect it as it knows he was arguably the truest equal T'Challa ever had, not to mention king's blood flowed in his veins at one point as a cousin to T'Challa.
It's interesting to see the symbiote wanting to level up and even transfer N'Jadaka into his "own" body like this, but we know it has picked up on a distracted enemy in Wakanda. T'Challa is contemplating destroying the Djalia to save his ancestors' spirits so the symbiote knows it's now or never, especially as B'ast has sensed its presence too. In fact, N'Jadaka knows B'ast and T'Challa are probably formulating a plan to strike so time is of the essence.
This Killmonger was murdered by Monica Rambeau during another attempted takeover of Wakanda from him, but the symbiote knows it can bond and create a warrior fuelled by revenge, driven by the ultimate vengeance. N'Jadaka couldn't rule in space so he wants to rule on Earth, which is why his powerful partners are helping him wage war on T'Challa, Shuri and Co. He may have lost one kingdom out in the cosmos but after sensing how Killmonger was shunned and vilified on Earth, N'Jadaka is going all out to ensure he does get to sit on a throne and remind everyone how good he really is, surpassing the legacy of who came before.
Black Panther #18 goes on sale Nov. 27.