Following hot on the heels of Ultimate Invasion #1, and the news that Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto will be launching Ultimate Spider-Man in Marvel's new Ultimate Universe, Marvel announced today that a new ongoing Ultimate Black Panther #1 will be released on February 7, 2024. During Marvel's Next Big Thing panel at New York Comic Con, the publisher announced Ultimate Black Panther will be written by Bryan Hill with interior art and cover by Stefano Caselli.
From Marvel's announcement: "THE NEW ULTIMATE BLACK PANTHER! In the wake of ULTIMATE INVASION, Khonshu and Ra – the force known together as Moon Knight – are seeking to expand their brutal control of the continent of Africa. In response, the lone bulwark against them, the isolated nation of Wakanda, will send forth its champion…its king…the Black Panther! From the creative minds of Bryan Hill (BLADE, KILLMONGER) and Stefano Caselli (X-MEN RED, AVENGERS) comes a bold new take on the world of Black Panther and Wakanda!"
In Marvel's original Ultimate Universe, which ran from 2000 to 2015, the Black Panther was tremendously underutilized, limited to a mere handful of appearances in the pages of works like Ultimate Captain America Annual #1, and Ultimates 3. Given this Ultimate T'Challa was a victim of the Weapon X program, and his vocal chords were slashed and he was unable to speak, the less said the better. The early focus on a new Black Panther highlights how rapidly the character's status has grown since 2018's MCU smash-hit, and is a very positive sign that Marvel is looking to use the new Ultimate Universe to reflect more modern sensibilities, diverse viewpoints, and an updated grasp of the "world outside your window."
Of course, a no-prize to all the readers who notice Marvel does not specify whether this Black Panther will be T'Challa (or another known character). Much like the Ultimate Spider-Man announcement's avoidance of the names Peter Parker or Miles Morales, there's ambiguity as to who will sit upon the throne of Wakanda. Likewise, in the pages of Ultimate Invasion by Jonathan Hickman and Bryan Hitch, it was revealed in a map of the Ultimate Universe as remade by the Maker that one small section of Africa was labeled "undiscovered territory." Given the absence of Wakanda elsewhere on the map, it seems likely this new Ultimate Black Panther will coincide with the rise of Wakanda in this new world, giving the creative team a true chance to begin fresh.
In either case, the announced trio of upcoming Ultimate Universe titles (Ultimate X-Men by Peach Momoko was announced at this same panel) feature knockout creative teams, and a sense that Marvel is truly invested in relaunching a must-read new Ultimate Universe. Twenty-four years later the Ultimate Universe is ready to live again.
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