WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Avengers #8 by Jason Aaron, David Marquez, Justin Ponsor and VC’s Cory Petit, on sale now.
The Avengers have had a number of different leaders throughout its tenure as the premier superhero team in the Marvel Universe. After the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a new generation of fans will name Iron Man and Captain America when asked who the figureheads are for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but decades of the comics will show examples like Wasp (Janet van Dyne), Hawkeye, Ant-Man (Hank Pym) and more of previous stints as leaders.
A new team of Avengers assembled when the Final Host of Celestial space gods converged on Earth in Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness and Paco Medina’s relaunched Avengers series. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Hulk (Jennifer Walters), Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes) were able to repel the Celestial attack, but what lies next for the team of superheroes?
The first official statement involves setting up a new headquarters in the corpse of the Progenitor, the very first Celestial to land on Earth and according to Loki, the reason for all of the superhuman activity on the planet. As impressive as this North Pole locale is, there is still the matter of deciding who will lead the Avengers. As we mentioned earlier, Iron Man and Captain America have the longest tenure as Avengers, alongside Thor of course. Either gentleman would make a fine choice to lead the team into battle.
Looking at the other candidates, we can eliminate Hulk, who has bigger, more personal issues to deal with after her gamma-powers started changing in scary and dangerous ways. The Ghost Rider is the youngest member of the team (still in high school, as he points out to Captain America) and therefore wouldn’t be asked to take on a leadership role. Robbie is just trying not to be too intimidated and wants to fit in among these icons.
Black Panther is a literal king, ruling over the African nation of Wakanda, so he is used to making tough decisions and thinking of the bigger picture, perhaps more than any other Avenger. Captain Marvel is the head of the Alpha Flight space program, leading the charge to protect Earth from intergalactic threats on a daily basis. And last but certainly not least is the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange. He’s an Avengers and Defenders vet, but for now, he’d rather contribute in a reserve capacity. So who did the trinity of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor choose as the Avengers’ new chairperson? King T’Challa, the Black Panther.
The Avengers trio recognizes if they are ever going to move forward into an age where the infighting comes to an end, then an outside voice is the best candidate as chairperson. As Cap states, “We need new leadership. For a new age.” Though everyone will have a voice in the Avengers, all final decisions will be made by the Black Panther.
Of course, there could be some future complications with Black Panther as the Avengers chairperson. A segment of the world population won’t look fondly at a hero of black skin tone leading the Avengers, and will take any opportunity to voice their displeasure to the media. Luckily, since the Avengers aren’t a government-sponsored organization, they don’t have to answer to a team of suits in Congress, for example.
Black Panther will have his first test as chairperson when the Avengers investigate the matter of his old nemesis, Namor and Atlantis. The two characters have a long-simmering feud that dates back to Namor flooding Wakanda in 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men, with the bad blood spilling over into Jonathan Hickman’s run on Avengers and New Avengers ahead of Secret Wars. Will Black Panther remain diplomatic when confronting Namor, or will he look to get payback against the underwater king?
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