“A nation of paradoxes. Technology existing with primitive traditions … and not always coexisting peacefully.” Thus does writer Don McGregor describe the fictional African nation of Wakanda, afrofuturist utopia and home of King T’Challa, the Black Panther, the first black superhero, introduced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four Vol. 1, No. 52 (July, 1966).
This course examines the emergence, development and sociocultural significance of the Black Panther up to the figure’s latest incarnation in the Marvel Studios films. Along the way we will sample some of the comics figure’s key storylines, such as McGregor et al.’s “Panther’s Rage” (Jungle Action #s 6-18, 1973-1975) and Ta-Nehisi Coates et al.’s “A Nation Under Our Feet” (Black Panther, 2016-2017); consider the representation of Africans, African-Americans and superheroes in comics; discuss Wakanda as African homeland; and read some important works by Black authors which inform the character’s political stakes and cultural meaning. Authors covered, in addition to the aforementioned, include Reginald Hudlin, Christopher Priest, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Nnedi Okorafor, Jackie Ormes, Matt Baker, Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Adichie.