The Black Panther (T'Challa) is a fictional character appearing in publications by Marvel Comics. Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and penciller-co-plotter Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966). He is the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, debuting several years before such early African-American superheroes as Marvel Comics' the Falcon and Luke Cage, and DC Comics' Tyroc, Black Lightning and Green Lantern John Stewart.
The Black Panther is the ceremonial title given to the chief of the Panther Tribe of the advanced African nation of Wakanda. In addition to ruling the country, he is also chief of its various tribes (collectively referred to as the Wakandas). The Panther habit is a symbol of office (head of state) and is used even during diplomatic missions. The Panther is a hereditary title, but one still must earn it.
In the distant past, a meteorite made of the (fictional) vibration-absorbing mineral vibranium crashed in Wakanda, and was unearthed. Reasoning that outsiders would exploit Wakanda for this valuable resource, the ruler at the time, King T'Chaka, like his father and other Panthers before him, concealed his country from the outside world. T'Chaka's first wife, T'Challa's birth mother N'Yami, died while in labor with T'Challa, so T'Challa would be raised by his father and his father's second wife Ramonda, at least until T'Chaka was murdered by the adventurer Ulysses Klaw. With his people still in danger, a young T'Challa used Klaw's sound weapon on him, gravely injuring him and forcing him to flee. Around the same time, his stepmother Ramonda visited her old home in South Africa. While on this trip she was kidnapped and taken prisoner by Anton Pretorius (T'Challa would not learn of this until years later).
T'Challa was next in line to be the king of Wakanda and Black Panther, but until he was ready to become the leader of the nation, his uncle S'yan, T'Chaka's younger brother, successfully passed the trials to become the Black Panther. While on his Wakandan walkabout rite of passage, T'Challa met and fell in love with apparent orphaned teen Ororo Munroe, who would grow up to become the X-Men member Storm. The two broke off their relationship due to his desire to avenge his father's death and to become the type of man who could suitably lead Wakanda, but they would see each other over the years when they could.
T'Challa earned the title and attributes of the Black Panther by defeating the various champions of the Wakandan tribes. One of his first acts was to disband and exile the Hatut Zeraze—the Wakandan secret police—and its leader, his adopted brother Hunter the White Wolf. Later, to keep peace, he picked dora milaje ("adored ones") from rival tribes to serve as his personal guard and ceremonial wives-in-training. He then studied abroad for a time before returning to his kingship. T'Challa next invited the American superhero team the Fantastic Four to Wakanda, then attacked and neutralized them individually in order to prove himself worthy as his people's defender and to test the team to see if it could be an effective ally against Klaw, who had become a supervillain made of living sound. After the ruler made proper amends to the superhero team, the four befriended and helped T'Challa, and he in turn aided the heroes against the supervillain the Psycho-Man.
T'Challa later joined the Avengers, beginning a long association with that superhero team. He first battled the Man-Ape while with the group, and then met the American singer Monica Lynne, with whom he became romantically involved. He helped the Avengers defeat the second Sons of the Serpent, and then revealed his true identity on American television. He encountered Daredevil, and revealed to him that he had deduced Daredevil's secret identity.