When Black Panther first appeared in the Fantastic Four, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the background of this African monarch/superhero was not overly explored. So a few years later, it provided ample scope for Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema to dig in. Avengers #87 promised the origin of the Black Panther, now an active member of the Avengers – and later revealed as performing espionage on behalf of Wakanda.
It reprised certain scenes from Fantastic Four #53 but then went a lot deeper, looking at the training T'Challa underwent, his time in America, and the fierce competition he felt with his friend, B'Tumba. It also covered scenes familiar to a wider audience, fighting Wakandan warriors, spending a night in the temple of the panther god Bast, and collecting the heart-shaped herb that gives him his Black Panther abilities. It's then he encounters villain scientists AIM and discovers that his childhood friend B'Tumba has betrayed Wakanda, and it all goes south.
The story, introducing the character further to Avengers readers who might not have picked up the Fantastic Four, was also intended to make the character more relatable to the rest of the Avengers, as T'Challa pours his heart out, and they all talk about their own experiences of loss and betrayal. But, as Priest would reveal decades later, this was all a ploy by T'Challa to embed himself further with the Avengers, all for the benefit of Wakanda. The comic book in question is currently up for auction from Heritage Auction in a CGC 9.0 grade, and currently with bids totally $252. And this is why…
The Avengers #87 (Marvel, 1971) CGC VF/NM 9.0 White pages. Origin of Black Panther. John Buscema cover. Featuring Iron Man, Thor, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Goliath, and Quicksilver. Overstreet 2021 VF/NM 9.0 value = $157; NM- 9.2 value = $240. CGC census 9/21: 92 in 9.0, 199 higher.