Next week we’re going to get to get to see what will no doubt become one of the biggest films of the year. The newest MCU film will take us to the wonderful land of Wakanda, telling the story of one of Marvel’s most interesting heroes, T’Challa the Black Panther. So, I figured that that meant I should highlight a fun story from Marvel’s past featuring T’Challa. Unfortunately, that proved to be a little hard. Typically these Marvel Madness posts feature stories that are absurd. That’s what I enjoy most about Marvel, enjoying the weirdest stories that the House of Ideas ever put out. Occasionally though, I feel like it’s fun to feature stories that aren’t quite insane, and are just amazing. And, in the quest to find some insane stories featuring Black Panther, I ran into some trouble. Black Panther has been a part of some of the most influential and terrific stories in Marvel’s history, but very few of them are as weird and insane as some of the other stories that I talk about on here. And, unfortunately, a lot of the more serious stories are kind of had to talk about in this context. Most of the stories that Christopher Priest or Ta-Nahesi Coates told are terrific, and I highly recommend them, but they don’t exactly lend themselves to the silly tone that I write these articles in. Who knows, maybe I could try with some of Preist’s crazier stories someday, but for now there was one story that really stuck out to me as the perfect one to discuss. Because, let me tell you, if there’s one modern comic book writer that can almost always be counted on to deliver an insane story that’s right up my alley, it’s Jason Aaron. So, as luck would have it, we have been given a story from Jason Aaron about Black Panther and Storm leading the people of Wakanda against the invasion of Skrulls during the Secret Invasion storyline. And winning. Folks, this is why I love comics.
As I said, this story takes place during Secret Invasion, which was a massive company-wide event that Marvel had that revolved around the shape-shifting aliens known as the Skrulls invading Earth. They were lead by a religious message that they were destined to control the Earth, so they sent a series of sleeper agents onto our planet, ingratiating themselves in all sorts of organizations, even posing as some super heroes, so that when the invasion began they could activate and destroy humanity from within. And, they were largely successful. But not everywhere. This story features a group of Skrulls, led by Commander K’vvvr, who were tasked with invading Wakanda. They were aware of the fact that Wakanda took great pride in the fact that they’d never been conquered by an invading army, but the Skrull are sure that the Wakandans will be no real problem. Especially because of the sleeper-agents that they’ve placed in the country. But, when they get to Wakanda, they find something shocking waiting for them.
Well, that’s less than ideal for the Skrulls. They’re pretty shocked by this vision, especially when their scans confirm that these are the agents that were put in Wakanda. But, K’vvvr doesn’t let it flap him too much, and tells his soldiers to continue on with the plan. And, he’s not the only one, because inside Wakanda T’Challa is prepared for war. He and his men are inside a command center, preparing some counter-measures to fight against the Skrulls. The two armies then begin to fight, back and forth. We see the Wakandans send out a laser-blast that hits the Skrull’s ship, destroying all of their weapons. So, in retaliation, the Skrulls do the same to the Wakandans, ruining their more advanced weapons. The Skrulls then cut all power to Wakanda, so the Wakandan’s then hack into the Skrull’s ships, destroying all of their systems so that the ships end up crashing in the fields outside Wakanda’s gates.
But K’vvvr isn’t going to give up. He’s a bred warrior, and he’s under the impression that this is to be his last mission, he just needs to subjugate the Wakandans and then the Empire will be done with him, he’ll get to retire and enjoy like. So, he tells his soldiers that they’re going to conquer Wakanda without all of their fancy weapons. They get together some crude weapons, mainly swords and spears, and start marching towards Wakanda. Which is exactly what T’Challa wants. He and his soldiers have prepared for this, and he sends his wife Ororo, of Storm of the X-Men, out to participate in a special mission. But, before she does that, she calls forth a massive rainstorm, which the Skrulls then have to drudge through. And, when they get to the gates of Wakanda, they find something rather intimidating waiting for them.
Hell yes. T’Challa is all suited up in his Black Panther costume, ready to fight the Skrulls to defend his people. The Skrulls are a little confused by this, and intimidated, but K’vvvr insists that they can easily kill one human. Which is when T’Challa signals for an entire army of panther-clad soldiers to emerge from Wakanda, ready to defend their homeland. We’re then treated to a massive fight scene, with Wakandans and Skrulls doing hand-to-hand battle, each side fighting as hard as they possibly can. And, things really seem to be working out in the Wakandan’s favor. They fight harder, and the Skrulls seem ill-equipped with the weapons at hand, while the Wakandans have been trained to be masters at whatever weapon is available.
But, things get a little more difficult when the Super-Skrulls show up. See, during Secret Invasion one of the Skrull’s most formidable weapons were their newly devised Super-Skrulls. These were genetically engineered Skrulls that were designed to have multiple super-powers, based off of the heroes and villains of Earth. And, they were often specifically trained and designed to defeat specific heroes. T’Challa is doing his best to organize his soldiers, while recognizing the fact that so many of his people are dying, while also dealing with his own personalized Super-Skrull. But, T’Challa has done his research. He knows how to fight Skrulls, and is familiar with various pressure points on the Skrull’s body. So, even though the Super-Skrull is rather large and hulking, he delivers a powerful punch, figuring it will be enough to take it down.
So that’s not good. And it’s not just unbreakable skin. This Super-Skrull has been given adamantium claws, an Iron Fist, the accuracy of Bullseye, and the fighting skills of Earth’s mightiest heroes and villains. T’Challa does his best to keep this monster at bay, but it quickly realizes that his focus is spent too much on the safety of the other Wakandans. So, taking advantage of that, the Super-Skrull begins indiscriminately killing the random Wakandans, infuriating T’Challa beyond words. He then prepares to best the Super-Skrull, proving that he’s not impressed with its abilities. The Skrull tries to use it’s Bullseye abilities, but T’Challa is able to catch the thrown daggers, mocking the very idea of Bullseye’s gifts.
The two then begin to do battle. And, T’Challa realizes that the Skrull certainly can out-fight him. He’s been trained since birth to master dozens of fighting styles, all to defeat Black Panther. But, T’challa knows that he can find the creature’s weakness. So, he deflects as many blows as he can, and eventually realizes that the Skrull doesn’t have access to all of its powers at once. It needs to switch between them, and in the moment that it makes that switch, it’s vulnerable. T’Challa then waits for the sign that the Skrull is getting ready to switch between its abilities, and he strikes. He’s able to use those brief moments of vulnerability and breaks the Skrulls arm, rips out its eyes, and shatters its legs, utterly defeating it.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only Super-Skrull they brought. They then release two more, an Asgardian mix who wielded two massive hammers and that knew magic, and a powerhouse mix who had the combined abilities of the Juggernaut, the Thing, and the Hulk. But, we don’t really focus on these Skrulls, because while this battle is going on Storm and a single Wakandan have begun sneaking behind enemy lines, hoping to attack them from behind. But, it turns out that the Wakandans didn’t actually find all of the Skrull spies, because the woman working with Storm reveals herself to be a Skrull, capturing the Wakandan queen. K’vvvr is then able to distract T’Challa, showing him that they have his wife, and will kill her if he doesn’t stand down. And, while T’Challa is considering this, another Skrull spy is able to shock him, knocking him unconscious.
T’Challa and Storm then awaken inside one of the downed Skrull ships, captives of K’vvvr. He’s held off on the invasion of Wakanda, deciding to break the nations leaders before doing so. So, he has his best torturers called in, and they begin preparing to do their dark work. K’vvvr tries to scare them, insulting Wakanda and talking about his prowess as a soldier, but no matter what he attempts, he can only get one reaction from them. Storm tells T’Challa to tell the Skrulls to go to hell, and T’Challa does it. The torturers then begin beating the royal couple, while K’vvvr grows increasingly worried about the situation.
K’vvvr eventually excuses himself, going to his bridge in order to compose a letter to his wife while some new torturers come in, ones who are trained with knives. But, they start to get concerned by the fact that T’Challa and Storm just keep repeating the same thing over and over. They start investigating their mouths, and find some sort of strange device inside which is making them say the same thing. So, they call up to K’vvvr, who is interrupted by two Skrulls who have come onto the board to tell him how the torture is going. He ignores the two newcomers though, and listens to the report from the men downstairs, when things start to fall apart.
They tell K’vvvr that when they removed the device from T’Challa and Storm’s mouth, they were suddenly able to speak. The device had been keeping them to the script, and now the two people could say what was actually on their mind. And it’s not good. These aren’t T’Challa and Storm. They’re actually the Skrulls that captured them down in the field. This had all been a trap. T’Challa and Storm only pretended to be captured, and as soon as they were able to they beat up their captors, and used some Wakandan technology to make the Skrulls take their forms, and put the devices in their throats to make them speak like them. So, where are the real T’Challa and Storm? Why, they’re the two Skrulls who just came on the bridge, and as K’vvvr realizes that, they stab him with swords, killing him. And, with the commander dead, they signal the rest of the Wakandan’s to storm out and attack the bedraggled Skrulls, successfully vanquishing the invaders, and keeping Wakanda safe. They Wakandans then send a ship full of dead Skrulls back to the Skrull Empire as a warning to never attempt to invade Wakanda again, and T’Challa and Storm celebrate by quoting the A-Team.
This story is a goddamn hoot. One of the most interesting things about Wakanda is the idea that it’s never been conquered. Africa is plagued with colonialism, and the idea that Wakanda is this paradise that has been allowed to remain pure, a shining beacon of African culture is a very cool concept. So, of course, taking that idea to its extreme and having literal aliens try to invade Wakanda, and fail, is amazing. It’s pretty clear that the huge Infinity War film this summer is also going to be playing with a similar idea, and I can understand why, it works really well. Black Panther is one of my favorite Marvel characters, because he legitimately seems like the most competent human being on the planet. He is squaring off against a race of highly advanced aliens, some of whom have been bred specifically to defeat him in combat, and who have been cultivating a planned invasion for decades, and he’s able to outsmart them. Every single thing that happens in this story happens because T’Challa wanted it to. He is able to run circles around the Skrulls, and is able to send a mission to the entire goddamn galaxy. Wakanda is for Wakandans, and no one will ever conquer it. And that’s awesome.
Black Panther #39-41 were written by Jason Aaron, penciled by Jefte Palo, colored by Lee Loughridge, and colored by VC’s Cory Petit, 2008.
Categories: Marvel Madness