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Rise of the Black Panther #2 retells T’Challa’s journey to becoming king—including his first encounter with Namor the Sub-Mariner. Black Panther just broke another MCU box office record this past weekend by passing The Avengers for highest second weekend and becoming the quickest film to hit $400 million domestically. Along with critics (who have showered the film in praise), audiences clearly can’t get enough of the world of Black Panther and its characters. And to Marvel’s credit, the comic publisher wisely planned for such an eventuality.
Last week saw the release of Black Panther Annual #1, which brought iconic writers Christopher Priest, Don McGregor, and Reginald Hudlin back to Wakanda. It also saw the return of two classic Black Panther characters: Nakia and Everett K. Ross. Meanwhile, a number of other books have been telling stories about T’Challa and his pantheon. io9 writer Evan Narcisse, in particular, is tackling a new miniseries that focuses on T’Challa’ early days as king and the Black Panther. And the latest issue intriguingly brings Namor back into the fold.
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Rise of the Black Panther #2 by Narcisse and Javier Pina (with input from main Black Panther author Ta-Nehisi Coates) jumps ahead from the secret origin of T’Challa to watch the young prince takeover as king. And his first mission leads to to investigate missing Wakandans and their connection to the rival nation of Niganda. It’s there that T’Challa first meets Namor, the king of Atlantis. As you can imagine, it doesn’t go well.
T’Challa and Namor have a long history in the comics, and it’s fitting that Marvel puts the focus on the two kings in this retelling of the Black Panther. We’ve argued that Black Panther 2 should use Namor as a villain and this latest issue proves why. The two share much in common, though have starkly contrasting personalities. In fact, it’s the reason they butt heads in this issue. Eventually, Namor calms down and the pair work together to solve the mystery of Wakanda’s missing citizens and a rogue Atlantean who wants to usurp his king.
The issue ends with the two parting on good terms, having both accomplished what they wanted. But as T’Challa contemplates opening Wakanda to the world—something the MCU is similarly doing—the new king wisely sees the threat Namor and Atlantis pose. He copies sensitive data on Namor’s DNA, proving he has a little of Batman in him beyond just the costume and wealth. And considering Namor will eventually invade Wakanda and kill thousands, T’Challa is right not to trust him in the past. But with Marvel drawing attention to the rivalry between the two kings, perhaps Namor and Black Panther will soon meet on the big screen.