FANTASTIC FOUR #52-53 (1966)

The first appearance of Black Panther, the first African American superhero.

And, to San and Jack’s credit, he’s actually African.  He doesn’t speak in sloppy slang or ebonics.  He’s a genius.
The Fantastic Four go to Wakanda because they’ve heard that the nation is light years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of technology.  Right away, this is a big break from the traditional depictions of Africans in the 1960s, and quickly we see T’Challa defeat the entire team—so he is established as a brilliant man and a powerful force, but at the same time, his whole country is full of really smart non-American black people.

I don’t think anyone in popular culture had come close to this kind of a story before.  Truly groundbreaking.  And I can’t think of too many people who have done anything like this ever since, either.

Wyatt Wingfoot seems to be a regular castmember at this point.  I don’t usually tag non-powered, non-hero characters, but Wingfoot is one of my rare exceptions given that he goes on adventures with Human Torch and She-Hulk multiple times and has a heroic role.  And a heroic bod.

This is also, of course, the first appearance of Black Panther’s most famous nemesis, the imperialist Ulysses Klaw.

Creators: Stan and Jack
First appearance: The Black Panther!
Grade: A-

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