In the future Marvel Comics Universe, the son of the Black Panther uses a name that has a link to his original comic book version.
The Black Panther is one Marvel character with a rich legacy. Fans of the comic books and movies know that the name is actually a title passed down through the rulers of Wakanda, charging each bearer with the responsibility of protecting his or her people. In the case of Prince (and later King) T’Challa, the Black Panther also became the name he used as a member of the Avengers
Curiously, however, “Black Panther” was not the character’s original name. Back in the 1960s when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were brainstorming new characters to star in Marvel Comics, Kirby came up with a cat-themed black character with a unique name – “Coal Tiger.”
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Lee and Kirby put the character through multiple evolutions before finally having him debut in Fantastic Four #52 under the new name of Black Panther. The character’s original name, however, would resurface years later in an unexpected way…
In the early 21st century, Marvel released a new comic book imprint called “MC2.” Set in the near future, the comics explored a possible direction the descendants of Marvel Comics’ superheroes could go in. Unlike most “alternate future” stories, the MC2 Universe was largely a positive place where superheroes were still celebrated and many new heroes were happy to continue the “family business.”
These new heroes included May “Mayday” Parker, the daughter of Spider-Man who took on the name “Spider-Girl.” She was joined by Wolverine and Elektra’s mutant daughter Rina (aka “Wild-Thing”) who got to enjoy crimefighting in a world where mutant and human relations had actually improved. While some of the descendants chose to walk a darker path (such as Hank Pym’s daughter Hope who became the villainous “Red Queen”), most chose to use their powers for good – like J2, the son of the Juggernaut.
Of course, no Marvel future would be complete without a new team of Avengers, and the MC2 Universe actually had an entire book – A-Next – devoted to following their exploits. The initial lineup consisted of J2, Thunderstrike (son of Thor’s human half Eric Masterson), Stinger (Cassie Lang, daughter of Ant-Man), and Mainframe (and android with the brain patterns of Tony Stark). Like any good Avengers team, however, the roster continued to expand as new heroes like American Dream, the future Captain America, joined the team.
In A-Next #4, readers got to learn about the future of Wakanda when King T’Challa’s son Prince T’Chaka (named after his grandfather and the Black Panther’s father King T’Chaka) journeys to New York with his Uncle N’Kano to discuss a trade agreement. Unfortunately, the two are targeted by the hate group the Soldiers of the Serpent who invade the Wakandan Embassy and attack the prince and diplomat. A second later, they find they’ve underestimated their opponents when N’Kano turns out to be “Vibraxas, the Master of Vibration” while the terrorists note T’Chaka “fights like a wildcat.”
The Avengers arrive, but the terrorists make off with N’Kano. Angered, T’Chaka joins the Avengers, revealing he can physically transform into the were-cat known as… Coal Tiger. Together, they track down the terrorists’ base and rescue N’Kano – who notes that T’Challa would be proud that his son is fighting alongside the Avengers. Although T’Chaka doesn’t formally join the Avengers, he does count them as friends and later returns to provide reinforcements in another adventure.
So, what kind of person is the son of T’Challa? Although he doesn’t make many appearances, T’Chaka shows he is both easygoing and diplomatic – accepting aid from both SHIELD and the Avengers in order to avoid offending either group. Although he goes by “Coal Tiger,” he requests that people recognize that he fights like a panther as “it’s sort of a family thing!” As T’Challa is still king of Wakanda, it’s understandable that his son would take on a different superhero identity – although he will more than likely take on the Black Panther mantle eventually.
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