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In the last several years, interest in and use of Wakandan characters and stories has skyrocketed. What was once an often-ignored corner of the Marvel Universe has now become an incredible breeding ground for new and varied creative ideas. The impact of this can be seen across numerous different forms of media, including, but not limited to, movies, comics, tv shows, video games, and so much more.
With this massively expanded interest comes a host of new speculation and investment opportunities. After all, every piece of content represents another avenue for new and existing fans to engage with Wakanda and its characters and develop an appreciation that was not there before. In order to understand all of this and the unique investment opportunity it may represent, this article will look at the history of the Black Panther and Wakanda and assess what has changed in the last few years that has led to a massive proliferation in Wakandan content. This, in turn, will inform an analysis of Wakandan comics and their investment potential.
It may seem hard to imagine now, but for most of its history, Wakanda (as well as its characters) has been largely ignored. Black Panther, the very first Wakandan to appear in comics, first appeared in 1966. According to the Complete Marvel Reading Order (CMRO) Project, he has appeared in 1,052 comics, with a little less than a third of those appearances happening between 1966 and 1998 (I will get into why I chose that specific year in a moment). That averages out to slightly more than 9 appearances a year. Those are not exactly great numbers and they look even worse in context. Per CMRO, She-Hulk, a character that was initially only created in 1980 to maintain a trademark, has appeared in 1,095 comics. From 1980 to 1998, She-Hulk appeared in 423 comics. That averages out to about 13 appearances a year. That’s nearly 100 more appearances and a 50% higher average yearly appearance rate than Black Panther, despite the latter having been in publication 14 years longer. And since Marvel basically never explored Wakanda with any consistency outside of Black Panther comics up to that point, the small fictional nation and its denizens never had much of a chance to shine.
Then, in 1998, a big change happened. In November of that year, Black Panther got his own ongoing series for the first time since 1979. The 1998 series was incredibly well received and introduced many significant additions to the Black Panther / Wakanda mythos, including the Dora Milaje, Nakia, the revival of several key players from the acclaimed Panther’s Rage storyline, and many more. After a brief break in 2004, a new Black Panther series hit shelves, written by Reginald Hudlin. Hudlin’s series was also well received and added even more to the universe of the Black Panther, including the introduction of Shuri and her eventual rise to the Black Panther mantle, the marriage of T’Challa and Storm, and several elements of Wakanda that would feature prominently into the MCU.
Following Hudlin’s run on the character, the publishing strategy for Black Panther took some interesting turns. After the events of Shadowland, T’Challa took over the mantle of the protector of Hell’s Kitchen from Daredevil. This story was chronicled first in the pages of Black Panther: Man Without Fear and then continued in Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive. This sadly marked the end T’Challa’s seven-year streak of having an ongoing title (a record for the character), but only to pave the way for something arguably much bigger.
In 2012, Jonathan Hickman made T’Challa one of the main characters in his ongoing New Avengers series, which did most of the legwork to set up Secret Wars. T’Challa was a huge part of the series and ended up appearing in more of its issues than any of the other core cast members. With this primacy came a renewed focus on Wakanda as well, with several storylines taking place in and/or heavily including the fictional African nation. Examples include Infinity and the ongoing tension between Namor and T’Challa after the former flooded Wakanda in Avengers Vs. X-Men.
After Secret Wars, things REALLY clicked into high gear for Wakanda and the Black Panther. In fact, more than a third of Black Panther’s total comic book appearances occurred during this time. This can be attributed to several things, including:
Wakanda’s renewed significance of late is by no means limited to comics, but extends to several other forms of media as well.
When it comes to film and television, the evidence is undeniable. the first Black Panther film is the 14th highest-grossing film of all time and the sequel is on track for similar success. The Dora Milaje were a key story element in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and a television show focusing on Okoye is in development. The Black Panther and Wakanda both played huge roles in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
On the video game front, the rise of Wakanda and the Black Panther is similarly undeniable. In addition to the litany of supporting / background roles listed here and here, Wakanda and its hero are set to star in an upcoming AAA video game.
All of this, combined with the bevy of non-comic books, audio dramas, podcasts, and more serve to demonstrate the new level of ubiquity that Wakanda has achieved.
As Black Panther and Wakanda continue to embed themselves in the public consciousness, new investment opportunities may begin to form in multiple ways. First off, each new Wakandan property represents a new opportunity for fans of the world and the character to be created. One need only look at the legions of Marvel fans created by X-Men: The Animated Series as proof of this. With more fans comes a larger population of people who might be interested in buying Wakandan books. Black Panther’s first appearance will almost certainly never rise to the significance of books like Amazing Fantasy #15 or Action Comics #1, but it can still experience major growth in value. Second, as Wakanda becomes more significant for the Marvel brand and Marvel Universe, the potential for renewed interest amongst investors in key Wakandan books expands massively. That means now could be a great time to buy low on Wakanda books and get out ahead of the market. Obviously, there is no certainty here, but the potential is just too great to pass up, at least completely.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather a small sample of the many books that could see newfound significance as Wakanda continues to make a larger and larger mark on comics and more:
Note: I am not including variants on this list because if I did the list would be a mile long.
I hope you enjoyed this deep dive on Wakanda and its tremendous investment potential. It was a lot of fun to write and do all the research for this one. I have loved writing since I was little and I am super thankful to CBSI for giving me the opportunity to write about comics!! Let me know if you have any suggestions for other great Wakanda books in the comments! For more on Wakanda, check out the Top 10 I wrote that inspired this article.
Great article! I was ignorant of most of this.
I’m a huge Black Panther fan, and have all but one book on this list. Great write up, but more cover art!
Those Simone Bianchi covers on BP Man Without Fear were phenomenal!
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