Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Frank Giacoia
Letterer: Mike Stevens
Featured Issue: Avengers #87
Returning from their recent dimension hoping adventure, the Avengers settle down for some well deserved relaxation. While the general tone around the mansion is cautious, one Avenger can’t help but be distracted in their new found down time. Questioned about it by Iron Man, Black Panther admits that he is suffering from home sickness, that most common of maladies. In an effort to help their teammate, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch encourage Black Panther to tell them about his home. With this, Black Panther begins to regale the Avengers with the story of how he became the legendary protector of Wakanda.
As son of the great chief T’Chaka, T’Challa was groomed from birth to follow in his father’s footsteps. Soon after sharing the secret of vibranium with his son, T’Chaka is killed by Klaw. Refusing to give him the vibranium that he sought for his sound transformer, Klaw orders his men to cut the chief down. Still being a young man, T’Challa is sent away for his schooling while the kingdom is ruled over by N’Baza, the witch doctor and his father’s most trusted advisor. Accompanying him on his journey is N’Baza’s son, B’Tumba. For years the pair are inseparable, studying and competing with one another, but still remaining close friends. After graduation, the pair return to Wakanda so that T’Challa may finally claim his throne.
On his arrival, T’Challa is greeted by N’Baza and immediately must begin the trials that will prove he is worthy of succeeding his father as chief. First he must face off against a half dozen of the best warriors, a challenge he quickly completes, though a lesser man would have fallen before any one of his foes. Next, T’Challla must hold a vigil in the temple of the panther god. Again having successfully completed his task, T’Challa was lead in to a gigantic panther statue where he finds the costume of the Black Panther. Donning the suit, T’Challa emerges to the cheers of an assembled crowd and ready to face his final trial. T’Challa must travel to the great plateau and obtain of the rare, heart-shaped herb. If successful, T’Challa must then eat the herb in order to gain the powers of the panther. With this, T’Challa sets out to fulfill his destiny.
Through jungles and swamps and up sheer cliffs, T’Challa overcomes any and all obstacles that cross his path. Just as his journey is coming to an end, T’Challa hears unexpected voices in the distance. On further investigation he discovers a small expedition from Advanced Idea Mechanics, AIM for short. The team is busily loading up a shipment of refined vibranium for transport back to their headquarters. As T’Challa contemplates the ramifications of his discovery, he himself is discovered by a hidden camera left behind by AIM. The young king is quickly ambushed by the now alerted AIM squad.
Although surprised and outnumbered, T’Challa quickly takes the offensive and shows off the incredible power now under his control. His speed, strength and agility end up proving no match for the technological wonders of AIM and he is soon brought down the their portable sonatron. While he recovers, Black Panther demands to know who is responsible for this brazen act of thievery. The traitor is soon revealed to be none other than T’Challa’s close friend B’Tumba. In the process AIM also reveals that it is there intent to beat the US and Soviets to the moon using a rocket constructed of vibranium, eventually leading to a invulnerable space station made of the same metal.
Broken and imprisoned by AIM, Black Panther can only face his death with dignity. His final demand is that his former friend B’Tumba be the one to pull the trigger and end his life. After T’Challa’s repeated taunts, B’Tumba finds himself unable to do the deed and instead decides to free his friend and make their escape. AIM it seems is less forgiving than the Wakandan king and they attack both T’Challa and B’Tumba. With his enhanced abilities as Black Panther, T’Challa is able to avoid the onslaught, but B’Tumba is not so lucky. With the AIM soldiers defeated, Black Panther returns to B’Tumba’s side just in time to comfort him in his final moments. Leaving the body behind, Black Panther returns to his kingdom a changed man.
In New York, the Avengers listen to the end of the story and offer words of sympathy and comradeship to Black Panther. As he leaves to the room, Black Panther informs the Avengers that N’Baza, who has been ruling Wakanda as T’Challa’s regent, has just died and so Black Panther must now choose whether to return home or stay in New York with the Avengers.