Fans of the MCU Black Panther may feel themselves starving for more of the adventures of the much missed T'Challa, but hesitating to dig into comics that have years of continuity spread across multiple volumes to understand, trying to find the stories that match the vibe they're after.
Fortunately, February 7's Ultimate Black Panther #1 does exactly what Marvel's Ultimate line is built to do and welcomes in new readers with a first issue that provides a perfect jumping-on point, even for those who have never read a comic before.
And while the version of T'Challa in Ultimate Black Panther #1 will feel very familiar to MCU fans and mainstream Marvel Universe comic fans alike, this is a totally new continuity that casts many fan-favorite characters in a new light while holding fast to the things that have made Black Panther and Wakanda so popular in recent years.
Spoilers ahead for Ultimate Black Panther #1
Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa was one of the most popular heroes in the MCU, despite his presence in just a handful of movies. While his adventures were cut short due to Boseman's untimely death, fans who have been longing for more T'Challa stories that capture the mythic, majestic scope of Marvel Studios' Black Panther finally have something to dig into with February 7's Ultimate Black Panther #1 from writer Bryan Hill, artist Stefano Caselli, color artist David Curiel, and letterer Cory Petit.
Make no mistake, the second title of Marvel's new Ultimate Universe line is no MCU clone - there are significant story differences not just from the MCU's take on Black Panther, but also from the mainstream Marvel Universe, with familiar characters such as Okoye, Killmonger, and even Storm and Moon Knight recast in unfamiliar new roles. But the vibe is there, from Caselli's dynamic, character focused art and his take on Wakanda's high-tech environment, to Hill's grasp of balancing engaging palace intrigue and moral reckoning with stylish superhero action.
In the new Ultimate Wakanda, T'Challa is King of Wakanda, and its protector the Black Panther. His sister Shuri is a genius engineer and inventor, and his queen - Okoye - is the High Mentor of the Dora Milaje. And while Wakanda hides itself from the outside world, the secretive nation is burgeoning on revealing itself.
It's here that things start to diverge even further from known Black Panther territory, as the looming enemy whose threat is large enough to draw Wakanda out of hiding is another known Marvel character: Moon Knight. Interestingly, the new Ultimate Moon Knight is actually not just one but two people, a kind of inversion of the core Marvel Universe's original Moon Knight Marc Spector's trait of having multiple alter identities.
The new Ultimate Moon Knight is in fact embodied in a pair of bespoke suited villains, one dressed in black, and one dressed in white, who serve both the moon god Khonshu and the sun god Ra, expanding their empire across the continent of Africa.
Wakanda is left watching from the sidelines, leading many of Wakanda's spies in the outside world to grow uncomfortable with the hidden nation's hesitation to intervene, beseeching T'Challa to help the people being swept up in Moon Knight's empire.
But the king has hesitations, leading to a new take on the familiar idea of Wakanda's tension in maintaining its secret borders while also refusing to ignore the ways they could offer aid to the outside world.
Fortunately, there are those outside Wakanda who are working against Moon Knight's armies: Killmonger, who is recast as a freedom fighter against Moon Knight's empire, and the new Ultimate incarnation of Storm, whose mainstream Marvel Universe X-Men counterpart was once married to T'Challa.
With Ultimate Black Panther #1 ending in a cliffhanger that all but guarantees Wakanda is about to reveal itself to the outside world, and T'Challa seemingly putting himself on a collision course with Moon Knight, the story is just getting started. Even better, everything you need to know to dive in is right here in the pages of Ultimate Black Panther #1 - no dozens of back issues or years of continuity knowledge required.
Ultimate Black Panther #2 goes on sale March 13.
And if you're ready to dig into the classics, check out the best Black Panther comics of all time.