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Ultimate Black Panther Reveals a Shocking X-Men Connection


Marvel’s new Ultimate Universe isn’t just dedicated to introducing new-reader-friendly versions of iconic heroes; it’s also reinventing those characters in clever surprising ways. Ultimate Spider-Man #1 already shook up Peter Parker’s world in some major ways, introducing a version of Spidey who’s a married family man. And with the release of Ultimate Black Panther #1, now it’s T’Challa’s turn.  

How has Black Panther’s origin story changed to fit the world of Earth-6160? And what shocking connection to the X-Men franchise is revealed in issue #1? Read on to discover how the new series transforms a familiar hero, but beware of full spoilers for Ultimate Black Panther #1 and Ultimate Spider-Man #1!

The Wrath of Ra and Khonshu

As established in 2023’s Ultimate Invasion, The Maker shaped the history of Earth-6160 by systematically preventing the emergence of the world’s heroes and carving up the world’s nations to be ruled by a select group of villains. The twin gods Ra and Khonshu control Africa. And even with The Maker MIA, they’re only too happy to extend their grip across the continent.

Issue #1 opens with the two gods dispatching a team of soldiers to attack a mining village in West Africa, slaughtering the locals and bringing the region under their control. Two Wakandan spies watch from afar, reluctantly staying out of the fray so they can report back to their king. Only the Black Panther can decide if war is to be waged against the two gods. 

Art by Stefano Caselli. (Image Credit: Marvel)
Art by Stefano Caselli. (Image Credit: Marvel)

A Married T’Challa

One similarity between Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Black Panther is that both present their leads as relatively older, married men. In this case, T’Challa is revealed to be married to Okoye. Though as Okoye herself points out, the two haven’t been formally married in the old traditions of Wakanda. T’Challa, haunted by ominous dreams, voices his desire to change tradition.

That speaks to what appears to be T’Challa’s main conflict in the series. Though he rules Wakanda, this version of the Black Panther seems mistrustful of the spiritual side of his position. That goes especially for the Vodu-Khan, a religious sect ruled by a priestess known as the Matron Imala. T’Challa’s father (more on him in a minute) counsels T’Challa to meet with the Matron and share his dreams. He urges T’Challa to keep the Vodu-Khan close until he decides whether they’re truly a threat to the throne.

Art by Stefano Caselli. (Image Credit: Marvel)
Art by Stefano Caselli. (Image Credit: Marvel)

T’Challa also shows himself to be a cautious ruler when he hears the reports from his spies. Though disturbed by tales of Khonshu and Ra’s bloodshed, he chooses to keep Wakanda’s army in place and gather more information before deciding on a course of action. This puts him in conflict with his sister Shuri, who in this universe serves as the Woman-at-Arms of the Wakandan military. T’Challa is hesitant to declare war, whereas Shuri wants a swift, decisive response. There’s clearly a bit of sibling rivalry at play in Wakanda. 

T’Chaka Lives… For Now

One of the more unexpected twists in Ultimate Spider-Man #1 comes with the reveal that Uncle Ben is alive, well and working with Peter at the Daily Bugle. Ultimate Black Panther features a similar twist when it reveals that T’Challa and Shuri’s father T’Chaka is still alive. T’Challa didn’t ascend the throne after the tragic death of his father, but merely inherited the mantle after his father stepped down.

T’Chaka plays the mentor to his troubled son in this issue, offering him advice on how to approach the Vodu-Khan and deal with the looming specter of war. 

Sadly, T’Chaka’s second lease on life in Earth-6160 proves to be short-lived. Issue #1 ends with T’Challa and his father presiding over Wakanda’s annual celebration of life. The ceremony is cut short when the king’s Dora Milaje bodyguard reveals herself to be a double agent working for Ra and Khonshu. She then detonates her suicide bomber vest. T’Chaka pushes his son off the platform, dying in the act of saving T’Challa’s life.

Art by Stefano Caselli. (Image Credit: Marvel)
Art by Stefano Caselli. (Image Credit: Marvel)

The Black Panther lands amid his people, immediately declaring war against the gods of Africa. The question, of course, is whether he’s simply playing into Ra and Kohnshu’s hands by abandoning caution.

The Rise of Killmonger and the Wind-Rider

The most surprising change in Ultimate Black Panther #1 doesn’t involve T’Challa or his father, but rather Killmonger. This iconic Black Panther villain has also been reimagined for the world of Earth-6160. He’s now a rogue agent waging a two-man war against Ra and Khonshu’s forces. If Wakanda won’t protect the innocent, Killmonger will.

So who is Killmonger’s partner in this war? None other than Ororo Munroe, better known as the X-Man Storm. Though it doesn’t appear she’s joined the X-Men in this universe. Instead, she’s known as “Wind-Rider” and appears to be Killmonger’s lover. That’s a major shift from the classic Marvel Universe, where Storm and T’Challa were married for a time. 

Art by Stefano Caselli. (Image Credit: Marvel)
Art by Stefano Caselli. (Image Credit: Marvel)

Together, the two warriors present a Thor-like threat to Ra and Khonshu’s forces. Killmonger wields a vibranium battle axe that can be thrown and summoned like Mjolnir, while Wind-Rider brings down the lightning to punish their enemies. 

The real question now is whether Killmonger and Wind-Rider will be enemies or allies to Black Panther. With T’Challa declaring war on Ra and Khonshu, theoretically, they all want the same thing. But does KIllmonger hate T’Challa in this universe as he does in others? Do they share a family connection? We’ll find out as this new series unfolds.

In other comic book news, the Folio Society is collecting Batman’s greatest hits, and we break down all the biggest new comics of February 2024.


Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.





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