Comics were always “adventurous” regarding their characters’ lives. They would die multiple times in the same timeline but get revived by some magical artifact or event that leaves huge consequences on the whole universe. Marvel does this quite often, and the fans always question the characters’ state. Black Panther is part of that as well, and besides T’Challa, there have been many Black Panther holders over centuries. T’Challa is the most notable one, and interestingly enough, his character never died in the comics, but other versions of Black Panther did.
In this article, we will list our picks of significant Black Panther deaths in the Marvel comics and explain each entry in the best ways possible. Marvel Cinematic Universe dealt with the death of their version of Black Panther beautifully, but in the comics, T’Challa never died; indeed, he had really close-death experiences. If you are interested, stay with us until the end.
1. T’Chaka died protecting his son T’Challa from Ulysses S. Klaue (Klaw)
Now that we set some pointers before our discussion, we can begin with the first Black Panther death. Specifically, the death of T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father and King of Wakanda. The title of Black Panther is much deeper than the simple superhero persona, and it’s a ceremonial hereditary title given to the chief of the Panther Tribe in Wakanda.
The bearer of the title is also a paramount chief, equal to the ruler of its various tribes (Wakandians). T’Chaka was one of the best and most progressive Chieftans of Wakanda. With that, an amazing Black Panther who preserved the heritage and tradition of the illustrious country of Wakanda.
The next ruler in line was Prince T’Challa, T’Chaka’s son, with whom he had huge faith but still needed some guidance before the leader could retire. Everything changed when T’Chaka was supposed to go on a diplomatic trip to Europe and try to make a deal with other countries to lend Wakandian’s most valuable asset, Vibranium.
Of course, ancient enemies of Wakanda decided to hurt the country where it hurt the most and kill their ruler. Ulysses S. Klaue, later named Klaw, decided to fulfill his ancestors’ wish and take the valuable material for themselves. After feeling disrespected by Klaw’s diplomats, T’Chaka refuses to lend Vibranium and leaves the meeting. During the heartwarming moment with his family, T’Chaka is almost assassinated, but the job is done when Ulysses Klaw rises from the secluded area and kills the Panther.
King T’Chaka dies protecting his son T’Challa, and his family, which leaves a spot for a new leader and King of Wakanda. Of course, T’Challa is the next ruler in line, but since he is too young, his uncle S’Yan takes over the duties until T’Challa is mature enough to take over the reins. Black Panther vol. 4 from 2005 shows T’Challa’s origin story in Marvel Universe.
2. S’Yan, T’Challa’s uncle, dies protecting Ramonda from Doctor Doom’s soldiers
After the death of his brother T’Chaka, S’Yan takes over the duties as a Chieftan and Black Panther from his late brother. After T’Challa reaches the age where he can finally take over as a Black Panther and challenges his uncle to a tournament – if one wins, they will be the next Panther to rule Wakanda. T’Challa wins, which makes S’Yan really happy, and he passes on his brother’s will.
T’Challa becomes a Panther to rule Wakanda and decides to stay and advise and help the young King by staying by his side. However, there is rarely any peace in Marvel comics, and new enemies target the prosperous African nation. Desturi, an ultra-conservative, xenophobic group of people who want to return to the old isolationist ways of Wakanda, attracts the attention of Doctor Doom, who wants to gain access to vibranium. T’Challa seeks help from his superhero allies and has to save his mother and then wife, Ororo Monroe, known as Storm.
However, before T’Challa could do anything, Queen Ramonda and S’Yan are captured by Doom, who orders the execution of the Wakandan matriarch before the soldier can kill the Queen, S’Yan steps before her and dies. The comic book Doomwars ties its story with Black Panther volume 5, and it’s really good if you want to check it out.
3. T’Challa falls into a coma and barely wakes up after refusing to join Cabal – Shuri takes over as Black Panther
T’Challa never died in Marvel Comics, but his persona Black Panther did, at least for a while. In the aftermath of the Civil War and in the middle of the Secret Invasion plan of Skrulls to invade Earth, T’Challa is faced with many obstacles as a ruler of Wakanda. He is freshly married to Storm, who helps him as a new wife and Queen of Wakanda during his diplomatic trips worldwide.
However, everything changes when Prince Namor of Atlantis asks T’Challa to join his newly formed team called Cabal, which is actually a secret society of supervillains. After accepting to join them, T’Challa is attacked by Doctor Doom, which leaves him in a coma.
Black Panther is officially dead, and Queen Ramonda and Storm are trying to figure out what to do. They decide to task Shuri for training as Black Panther, who officially becomes one when T’Challa awakens and attempts to recover from almost fatal injuries. Black Panther was dead for some time, but Shuri stepped up and trained to become the protector of Wakanda.
4. T’Challa from the future is fatally sick but is killed by Man-Ape
During the Black Panther comic book run from 1998, T’Challa is faced with something strange. After trying to stabilize the Wakandian economy that Erik Killmonger disrupted, T’Challa is tasked with another mission – to recover King’s Solomon Frogs. The Frogs are special because they are essentially brass time machines created by an unknown ancient inventor. During the efforts to acquire them, Frogs were activated, which propelled the summoning of T’Challa ten years into the future.
The future T’Challa is the ruler of powerful Wakanda but is fatally sick. After Nightshade stabilizes his disease and puts him in stasis until the cure is found, present Panther deals with obstacles and the fact that he contracted the same aneurysm as his future self during his fight with Iron Fist. In the end, the future Panther is mauled by Man-Ape, who smashes his stasis tube and kills him in place.
This comic book story is interesting since it pits two versions of T’Challa, who are the same person but have absolutely different outlooks on life.
In the end, we will add that Erik Killmonger was a King of Wakanda and took over the mantle of Black Panther from T’Challa, during Black Panther volume 4. However, when he ingests the heart-shaped herb that gives Black Panther powers, the villain falls ill and in a coma, unable to digest the plant because he isn’t of royal blood. Eventually, Monica Rambeau as Pulsar kills Killmonger, but T’Challa already took back his Black Panther mantle, which doesn’t count as the death of Wakanda’s protector. Still, Killmonger’s death should be mentioned in some way, since his role in Black Panther lore is significant.