The First Black Panther Story

Given the wide and bizarre assortment of super heroes and adventure characters tossed off during the Golden Age of Comics, it’s small wonder that there are antecedents of a kind for all manner of characters who, in a later incarnation, went on to prominence. So it was with the Black Panther, who made his first and only appearance in the pages of Centaur’s STARS AND STRIPES COMICS #3 in 1941.

The Black Panther was the creation of Paul Gustavson, a utility player during the Golden Age who is perhaps best remembered today as having created the Golden Age Angel for Timely Comics. Gustavson did work for a number of the early publishers, and he’s all over this issue of STARS AND STRIPES COMICS–that cover, featuring Amazing Man, is his work as well.

Apart from his similar nomenclature to Marvel’s later T’Challa, there really wasn’t anything noteworthy about the Golden Age Black Panther. He was just one of a seemingly-endless supply of masked mystery men crowding the comic book racks in an attempt to capture some of the lightning-in-a-bottle that Superman had demonstrated. As mentioned earlier, his adventures only warranted this single appearance.

The Golden Age Black Panther was that rare breed of crime-fighter who attempted to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies while wearing a faux tail dangling from his posterior. I’d also be willing to bet that all of the portions of the outfit that were colored in fleshtone had been intended by Gustavson when he drew it to be in a color. But since many comic book publishers didn’t provide any guides or reference for the separations houses that did their color separations, you often simply got what you got.

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