Black Panther’s Pride: Return of the Dragon

Read through some of T’Challa’s most thrilling adventures on Marvel Unlimited to mark Black Panther’s 50th anniversary!

Marvel celebrated T’Challa’s 35th anniversary in BLACK PANTHER #36 with reprints of his first appearances plus entries in Everett K. Ross’ journal, a map of Wakanda and the first entry in the “Once and Future King” story by Christopher Priest and Sal Velluto.

Taking place 25 years after the events of the series, Ross now holds the title of former U.S. Secretary of State and T’Challa has closed off the Wakandan borders. However, when his former friend finds himself captured by a series of the Panther’s old villains, the leader of Wakanda breaks his oath, returns to the States and faces off against the likes of Achebe, Venomm, and an unexpected traitor from within his own family. Thanks to some help from Luke Cage and Falcon, Black Panther stops his enemies from hurting Ross, but fails as a father twice over.

Black Panther (1998) #36

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In BLACK PANTHER #38, Priest and Velluto returned to the present for a three-parter called “Return of the Dragon” that teamed our hero up with the likes of Colleen Wing, Misty Knight, and Iron Fist to stop the Black Dragon, recently returned to life by Malice. At the same time, the Panther tasked his people with trying to figure out how to return Ross to his own body instead of Mephisto’s! But before things get solved, the creators worked on #39, a silent issue filled mostly with a fight between T’Challa and a mind-warped Danny Rand as part of the ‘Nuff Said initiative from that year.

With Iron Fist back to his senses, he and Panther teamed up to take on Black Dragon and Malice, using the latter’s methods to help defeat the former. But, the story ended on yet another cliffhanger as the supposedly original Black returned to Wakanda thanks to some meddling from Malice.

Secrets of Wakanda

Though the Jack Kirby BLACK PANTHER series came out at the same time, T’Challa never actually appeared in POWER MAN AND IRON FIST or vice versa. In fact, it seems like Luke Cage and Black Panther didn’t actually meet until 1982 when they both appeared in CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS #1 by Mark Gruenwald, Bill Mantlo, Steven Grant, and John Romita Jr. In the story, the Grandmaster snatched a variety of heroes and villains. The duo didn’t actually say anything to one another on-panel, but definitely stood next to each other before T’Challa got selected to compete on Death’s team.