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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – The Black Panther Has ESP?!

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In this feature we examine comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Omar Karindu, we look at the time that Black Panther temporarily gained mental powers…or did he?

In Black Panther #10 by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer, Black Panther was exposed to raw vibranium, which apparently can mutate you. It mutated Black Panther and gave him a variety of mental powers.

At the start of #11, he has a premonition in a dream about a bunch of bad guys…

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Panther had not yet faced the bad guys but he does so later in the issue, clearly demonstrating precognitive abilities.

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Later, he gets tested and the results are pretty damn clear…

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Next, he shows the ability to tell when one of his aides is in danger…

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In the following issue, Black Panther #12, Kirby and Royer now show Panther communicating with his captured aide through Panther’s new mental abilities…

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#12 was Kirby’s last issue. After Jim Shooter wrote #13, Ed Hannigan wrote #14, with art by Jerry Bingham and Gene Day. Hannigan quickly abandons and forsakes the expanded mental powers of the Panther, stating instead that the new powers are merely…

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As you can see, he reduced the new powers to the point of basically non-existence.

I presume SOME later writer has dealt with Panther’s retconned powers since then, I just can’t think of who. Anyone know of an example of someone dealing with Panther’s short-lived ESP and telepathy?

Thanks for the suggestion, Omar Karindu!

If YOU readers have a suggestion for a story that was abandoned and then retconned by a later writer, let me know at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

28 Comments

Didn’t Priest revisit the Kirby version of Panther during his run, bringing him back in time to meet current day Tchalla?

Yep, Priest had “Happy Pants” Panther, a pastiche of Kirby’s version right down to the incongruously loud and cheery attitude, turn up in his last copuple of T’Challa centric arcs. “Happy Pants” Panther, nicknamed thus by Everett K. Ross, was drawn in Kirby’s style by Sal Velluto and Bob Almond, right down the heavy blacks inking style of Mike Royer. “Happy Pants” was connected to the Kirby time-travel gimmick from the first three issues of the 1980s Panther series, and had apparently turned up at some point in the past.

Confusingly, though, “Happy Pants” was a future version of Priest’s Panther, and suffered from the brain aneurysm T’Challa sustained earlier in Priest’s run. T’Challa had him put in cryogenic suspension, but the Man-Ape, seeing an opportunity to circumvent a vow not to hurt the regular version of T’Challa, killed the frozen “Happy Pants” Panther. As a result, T’Challa went off the deep end and launched a war against the Man-Ape’s tribe, the Jabari, leading to the tragic climax of Priest’s T’Challa storyline in issues #48-9.

Overall, “Happy Pants” was more of a Meta-Message character than a real effort to retcon the Kirby ESP stuff away. Priest earlier had his version of T’Challa refer to Kiber Island as a past incident and also shows that he recognizes the Collectors from the early parts of the Kirby run, so we can’t really write off “Happy Pants” as some sort of time-travelling insertion who serves as the protagonist of the Kirby stories.

Truth be told, Kirby was not big on keeping continuity with previous writers, at least in his 1970s Captain America and Black Panther runs.

His Panther stories ignored the dangling plot to such an extent that Ed Hannigan all but stated outright that Tchalla had been amnesiac during Kirby’s entire run. His Cap stories were done almost in direct defiance of Englehart’s run and basically ignored Sharon Carter, as well as the Falcon’s character development.

@Luis- you have a point about Sharon but nobody really knew what to do with Falcon after the whole Snap Wilson mess.

Kirby’s 70s stuff is weird, but it has its charms. I think it gives a future writer a lot to work with, but I haven’t seen much where anyone has.

It’s worth noting that ‘Happy Pants’ Panther specifically mentions and makes use his own ESP powers in those Priest stories.

Well, phred, let’s see…Arnim Zola turns up a lot to this very day, the Royalist Forces and Kill-Derby were used in Kurt Busiek’s Thunderbolts, Mark Gruenwald brought back the Night People of Zero Street for a while in the 1990s and had briefly tied Abner Doolittle into the Nth Command material in Marvel Two-In-One decades before that, the Night Flyer turned up in Bill Mantlo’s Incredible Hulk run and more recently in Daughters of the Dragon/Heroes for Hire, and Ed Brubaker used the Madbombs in his last volume of Captain America.

*catches breath*

King Solomon’s Frogs have popped up in both the Priest and Hudlin Panther series, Busiek made one of the Collectors into one of the Juggernaut-related Eighth Day villains, the Corporation got tied into everything from Machine Man to the Power Broker’s backstory, Kiber Island was the setting for an early 1980s Defenders storyline about a war between Atlantis and Wakanda, Magneto’s weirdo Brotherhood from that Cap Annual was repurposed as Mutant Force in J.M. DeMatteis’s New Defenders and then again as the Resistants in Gruenwald’s Cap run, and even Threkker the alien Captive was revived in the 1990s as a member of the cosmic mercenary team called the Starblasters to fight Quasar ands the Fantastic Four among others.

I’ll grant you that Agron, the Black Musketeers, the Swine, and Jakarra have been mostly forgotten, but everything else has shown up at least one more time and often more than that.

Omar- Ah, thanks. I can always count on the readers of this blog. I knew about Arnim Zola, and King Soloman’s frogs, but most of those I haven’t read. I’ll try to remedy that though.

And that’s not even getting into the Eternals cast of characters. Aside from things like Sersi’s stint in the Avengers and the occasional storyline centered around the Eternals and/or the Deviants, the Celestials pop up on a regular basis–too regularly, really, considering how mind-bendingly ominous it’s supposed to be for them to show up at all. But I can’t blame writers for being unable to resist their awesomeness.

Thanks! Interesting take on the Panther. I kind of wish he had continued having these powers. As it is, I assume that T’Challa has enhanced senses, like a panther.

Two things: I like the idea of vibranium causing mutation. I don’t know if this is the case on 616 Earth, but in the Earth X series, vibranium was directly related to the Celestials. If I remember correctly, it was the material which encased a Celestial embryo. It’s fitting that it causes mutations since, at least in that series, the superhumans and mutants of Earth were, essentially, the byproducts of the Celestials engineering humans who could protect their embryos.

Is there a connection between the Celestials and vibranium in the main Marvel U?

Second thing: I really liked the Kirby comic where all of the characters were African. It’s relatively rare to see a non-white person in a comic as it is and they are always in the minority, surrounded by white characters. This was a pleasant (and fully logical, of course) change of pace.

as far as i know once marvel did away with the black panthers esp . its been gone for good. other then tchalla still being one of the smartest men in the mu and also his great strength other then priest using those powers in his run. black panther has no metal powers at all.

Shaun, before Kirby there was Don McGregor, who put T’Challa in the middle of a Wakandan civil war. The only recurring white character in that run was the minor villain Venomm (not the Spider-Man fellow). Oddly, Kirby’s first arc jettisoned everything McGregor had set up and spent most of its time pairing the Panther up with a white sidekick, Abner Little.

Omar, thanks for the response. Well, that’s a bit disappointing.

Travis Pelkie

May 13, 2013 at 12:21 am

I think I should probably go to the eye doctor. I saw this headline and thought “well, yeah, I’d imagine that Wakanda has a pretty good cable setup and Panther does indeed have ESPN.”

Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all night!

Sidekick is too strong a word, Omar. It’s more like Little was the star and T’Challa was his big strong sidekick. Little has the cool tech, and when t”Challa meets Princess Zarda (another of the Collectors) she treats him at first as a big hunk of attractive man, not as a fellow African monarch. It read like Kirby had really wanted to do the Collectors as a series and stuck in T’Challa to sell it. So I was really, really glad to have Priest mocking it.
I think the Celestials have been a minor abandoned-and-forsaken too. IIRC, the original series stated definitely that no world had ever survived the Celestials’ judgment (which makes them genocides easily as monstrous as Galactus) but the Official Handbook later established that the Skrulls, among other races were also Celestial-made (so they’re genocides but not complete genocides). I’m not sure if that’s ever been used in a comic, though.

Also, a later Thor story established that the judgment of the Celestials did not necessarily mean the extermination of a species, but it could mean the extermination of a lot of “bad people” in a species. It turned out that the Celestials actually judged people on an individual basis. (This was the Thor story that introduced Exitar, the 20,000 foot Celestial who carried out the judgment of Arishem).

Panther is always getting nerfed!! Stupid.

Captain Haddock

May 13, 2013 at 9:14 am

@Omar Karindu, Phred: The frogs also showed up as a plot point in Matt Fraction’s Defenders series, and I remember reading in interviews he was really excited to use them cause they’re so wonderfully weird and comic book-y.

Travis Stephens

May 13, 2013 at 9:16 am

That was a really bad DeFalco Thor arc. Thor punches a hole through the Celestial’s armor and is attacked by antibodies or some such nonsense.

The link between vibranium and the Celestials was somewhat better, but the whole Celestials as really big people concept diminishes their awe.

@Omar Karindu, Phred: The frogs also showed up as a plot point in Matt Fraction’s Defenders series, and I remember reading in interviews he was really excited to use them cause they’re so wonderfully weird and comic book-y.

Right, and the Collectors were a big part of that arc as well.

And I agree with Fraction, the frog really was a gloriously goofy idea. The rest of the series didn’t live up to it though.

Funny Travis, I have kind of the opposite thought about the Celestials. Mark Gruenwald’s insistence in Thor (I think it was his work) that the represent a power level beyond anything and anyone anywhere never really worked for me (plus the assumption seemed to be that if they wiped out worlds, they were the Celestials, no foul!). I much preferred the DeFalco FF story where the Watchers and the FF kicked their butts.

Having said that I should mention I really liked Kirby’s original series, but not much of what was done with them after. They’d have been better off segregated from the MU, which I’ve long assumed was Kirby’s goal. The only indication in the stories that they are part of the MU was a reference to one character as a SHIELD agent–and near the end of the series, people were referring to the Hulk as a comic-book character, so I’m wondering if that SHIELD reference wasn’t an editorial inclusion.

fraser: There’s also Sersi briefly giving some guy the head of the Thing form the Fantastic Four to demonstrate her powers.

Travis Stephens

May 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I guess DeFalco forgot about the already established canon where the Celestials defeated Odin and the rest of Earth’s pantheons with ease. Typical DeFalco crap in both Thor and FF.

Senhor Suíno

May 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm

@Omar Karindu, Phred
Texas Jack (Marshall Muldoon), another creation of Kirby 70’s Captain America run (and if I remember correctly the last character Kirby created for Marvel), appeared in the Roger Stern’s Forever Allies.

Marshall Muldoon also had some importance in the Earth X maxiseries, as many Kirby concepts (including the Night People and Zero Town).

Travis Pelkie

May 14, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I had to read Omar’s last comment carefully, because if you miss the first “the”, it appears that the Eternals was a Max series….

BP is awesome with esp pwrs even hving d ability 2 “sense crisis points” is gr8 but wasnt dis also sumwat developd in d classic Avengers whr BP also had astral sensory perception?

Cant remembe d issue right now but in dat issue on d same pg BP was able 2 sense d presence of an astral being with KANG right nxt 2 him saying his(Kang) supa-futuristic instruments does not confirm such not such with Cap Roger responding saying “But u r not d Black Panther”.

Its very sad hw recent writers hv refusd 2 devlp dis aspect of BP.

Hek here is an idea Kirby lied d foundation 4: V-gene – Wakandan mutants & mutates creatd by raw vibranium & unprotectd exposure. BP right now wud hv his own ‘x-men’ separate frm d X-franchise. Didnt sum writer play with dis concept during d whole “Intelligencia” storyline & Storm(when still married 2 BP) wud hv bn d perfect bridge but instead Marvel decided 2 rid BP of his talents, gifts & vibranium(which Remender l8r disrespects in his Venom title).

All hopes 4 BP now lie in Hickman…GOD we hope he doesnt dissappoint.

For what it’s worth, I do believe that Panther’s ESP powers popped up in an issue of Cable, of all places… my recollection is that they protected him mental intrusion in those issues.

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