Silver Surfer was first featured in Fantastic Four #48-50. Black Panther in issues #52 and #53. Both stories were written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby.
These issues also introduce Wyatt Wingfoot, Galactus and Ulysses Klaw.
FF 48 actually begins with the conclusion of the Inhumans origin, with Silver Surfer appearing half way through the issue.
On their way back from the Himalayas, the Fantastic Four see the sky turn red and fiery. Thinking that this is the doing of the Human Torch, the people of New York drench and attack him. The Thing comes to his aid and they escape to the Baxter Building (their HQ). A few hours later, after Reed has locked himself in his lab, the fire disappears and the sky becomes filled with rocks. Forcing themselves into the lab to tell Reed what is going on, the remaining members find Reed and their ally The Watcher hard at work, and it seems they are the cause. The Watcher explains that he is hiding the earth behind the flame and rock from a being called the Silver Surfer. However, it’s not the Surfer they must worry about, its his master, the planet eating Galactus. Despite their best efforts, The Surfer finds earth anyways. The Fantastic Four attempt to stop him from signalling to Galactus that a suitable planet for consumption has been found, but fail. At the end of the first issue Galactus arrives on earth.
After a quick wardrobe change between issues, Galactus confronts The Watcher. The Thing and The Human Torch try to fight him, but he’s freaking Galacus. While Reed slows Galactus down by destroying his planet energy converter 2 side plots go down. First, the Watcher sends The Human Torch to retrieve a cosmic mcguffin called the Ultimate Nullifier. The second, The Thing’s girlfriend, Alicia Masters, talks to the Silver Surfer. She shows The Surfer a beautiful side of humanity that he had not seen and brings out his compassion. Deciding he cannot allow the Earth to be destroyed and goes to confront Galactus. This is where issue 49 ends.
You’d figure that the 50th issue would be a grand milestone issue, well…. its not. 51 is, but 50 is pretty much the conclusion of this story and then half an issue of loose ends being tied or created. 51 should have been 50, but thats just me being particular. The Silver Surfer confronts Galactus, but, again, because it’s Galactus he too fails. When all hope seems to be lost, the Torch arrives. They bring the Ultimate Nullifier and Galactus knows, for whatever reason, that he can go no further. In exchange for the weapon he promises to leave the earth. Reed agrees and gives it up. Before leaving, he punishes The Silver Surfer, taking back most of his power away and stranding him on earth.
While yes, it is 60’s style writing aimed at children, there is still a genius in Stan Lee’s writing that will make me never tire of reading this story. This is one of the stories I think of when I think about just how great Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s FF run really was. The next story however, I had never read before. That is the 2 issue introduction of the Black Panther.
Much like the Silver Surfer, the Black Panther first appears as a threat. The Fantastic Four and Wyatt Wingfoot (Johnny Storm’s college buddy who was introduced in the second half scenes of issue 50) travel to the country of Wakanda on invitation from the king. When they arrive they are attacked by a masked man in a black panther costume. Fighting the team to a standstill, he almost was able to beat each member if not for the efforts of Wyatt Wingfoot, who was not part of the original equation when the Panther was planning his assault. With everyone free he reveals himself to be the king of Wakanda, T’Challa.
The second issue is all about his origin and nemesis, Ulysses Klaw. As friends now, T’Challa takes the FF on a tour of his kingdom showing off all of his sciences and riches which he has been able to obtain from a rare metal found in Wakanda, a metal called Vibranium. Years earlier, Klaw had invaded Wakanda in search of this precious metal. When T’Challa’s father T’Chaka opposed the invasion, he was killed. Witnessing this, T’Challa grabbed a sound gun from one of the invaders and shot off Klaws hand (How ironic). The Black Panther tells the foursome, and Wyatt, that they had been brought as the ultimate test to see if he was ready to confront Klaw again. After telling our heroes this story sounds are heard from the jungle. Coincidentally, Klaw has also decided he is ready for retribution. Using technology to turn sound into solid objects he sends several “sound animals” on them including an elephant and a panther of his own. Of course, Klaw loses and his machinery is destroyed. The FF give the Panther a pep talk as to why he should use his power for good and he decides to be a hero. Afterwards, it is revealed that some of the technology is still intact and Ulysses Klaw jumps into the sound machine…
This story was an enjoyable read. Not as enjoyable as the Silver Surfer story, but enjoyable non the less. This is the only issue we see Klaw before he looks more like a purple and red clown due to the transformation, which explains why I wasn’t able to spot him originally in the Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer, I didn’t know what I was looking for. Oh yeah, Klaw will be introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron and will be played by Andy Sirkis. Black Panther is said to be introduced in Captain America: Civil War, but I wonder if he may also be introduced in the new Avengers film. He will be played by Chadwick Boseman, who will go on to headline a Black Panther solo film. The Silver Surfer was also in a movie a few years back Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer played by Doug Jones and voiced by Lawrence Fishburne.
Both these characters have been ever-present heroes of the Marvel Universe since, The Silver Surfer has been an on again off again member of the non-team The Defenders, The Black Panther has been a long time member of The Avengers and is also a member of Hickman’s secret New Avengers team.
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