Welcome back for part seven in our second 12-part series, “What’s On Ronnie’s Calendars.” It’s the month of our nation’s independence, so it should come as no surprise who is headlining my freebie Marvel calendar. Especially since he’s got a movie coming up this month.
Steve Rogers was just a puny kid from Brooklyn who desperately wanted to serve his country in World War II. Rejected by the army, he was instead selected for the military’s top-secret Super Soldier program. Pumped up with 1940s-era steroids, Rogers was transformed into the perfect physical specimen. Tragically, the super soldier formula was lost shortly thereafter, making Rogers the only super soldier there would ever be.
The government dressed him up in the flag, named him Captain America and sent him out to kill Nazis. He quickly gained a teen sidekick — Bucky — because boy sidekicks were all the rage in the ’40s.
Crap. I should be saving all this for my “Before You Go: Captain America” segment later this month. Let’s move on.
OK, this is going to take some explaining. In 1966 Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the Black Panther, who made his debut in “Fantastic Four 52.” T’Challa T’Chaka is the king of the secret African nation Wakanda and he has strength and agility similar to that of a panther. I don’t want to get into the whole origin story.
The Black Panther is generally regarded as the first black superhero in American comics. As such, Marvel appears to feel an obligation to keep a Black Panther comic in print despite low sales (for DC’s version of this dilemma, see Wonder Woman).
The most recent Black Panther comic was launched in 1998. It was critically acclaimed but once again sales were not stellar. To keep the book on the shelves, Marvel has tried every trick in the book: they brought in a Hollywood guy to write it; they married T’Challa off to Storm from the X-Men; they briefly put him and Storm in the Fantastic Four; they currently are selling him as the new Daredevil.
But before that last bit — they made him a woman. OK, technically T’Challa’s sister Shuri became the new Black Panther when T’Challa was out of commission. I’m not sure what her status is currently. I know T’Challa is running around New York as the BP, but Shuri may still be playing the BP back in Wakanda.