Rise of the Black Panther #2 kicks off a new arc that looks to be rebooting Erik Killmonger's origin story in Marvel Comics. Black Panther is currently the highest-rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes and fans have helped push it past $700 million at the global box office. More than just a hit film, the movie has become a cultural event. And while all of the cast and crew have been praised, particular emphasis has been put on Michael B. Jordan's villain who we can argue is the MCU's best to date.
Though Marvel has had issues with its cinematic antagonists in the past, they've been stepping things up lately. Killmonger joins Vulture as one of the MCU's more fleshed out rogues. And though Killmonger's motives are wrong, the ideas at the heart of his attempted coup aren't so different than what Nakia wants: a Wakanda that's open to the world. Though Killmonger's origin was changed from the comics a bit, the movie still pays homage to his key traits. But now, things look to be headed in an altogether different direction on the comics front.
Rise of the Black Panther #2 by Evan Narcisse tells the story of Black Panther and Namor's first fight. But the event that brings the two kings together is a rash of missing Wakanda citizens. In the end, Namor helps T'Challa stop the plot and the victims are recovered—except a boy named N'Jadaka.
Created by seminal Black Panther writer Don McGregor, Erik Killmonger debuted in 1973's Jungle Action #6. His origin since has remained mostly the same, as Killmonger was once the young Wakandan N'Jadaka whose family was exiled after the father was forced to work for Klaw. Though the MCU rearranges things a bit, the idea of N'Jadaka growing up in America and his father standing against the throne remains the same. And though Killmonger doesn't train in science like in the comics, he does ready himself to one day best the Black Panther and rule Wakanda.
Marvel movies have changed the comics many times before, but this latest development oddly seems to avoid what happened in Black Panther. N'Jadaka now seems to be a Wakandan student of high intelligence who is kidnapped. There's no word of his father or what happened to the child. It's possible that his kidnapping will end up being connecting to Klaw and similar events will play out. But we'll likely have to wait for the continuation of the series to learn more. For now, the prequel is a must read for anyone who wants a refresher and expansion of T'Challa's early years as the Black Panther.
Rise of the Black Panther #2 is available now from Marvel and comic book retailers.