Marvel Comics: The Villains of Black Panther
By Steffi Feldman
Dive into the Marvel library with Erik Killmonger!
Before Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” hits the big screen this weekend, we decided to look back at the comic book history of a few of T’Challa’s greatest nemeses. Part One covered the life and times of Ulysses Klaue, and today we’ll review the Black Panther’s other archenemy: N’Jadaka, A.K.A. Erik Killmonger!
Forced into servitude by the evil Ulysses Klaue, N’Jadaka’s father was forced to help the mastermind steal vibrantium from Wakanda. The heist culminated in Klaue’s murder of King T’Chaka before the villain went on a rampage, killing N’Jadaka’s entire family before taking him captive.
After escaping Klaue’s clutches, N’Jadaka ended up in Harlem, New York. There, the young man developed a deep hatred for T’Chaka, believing that his weak leadership was responsible for the death of his family. In return for these perceived failures, N’Jadaka vowed to take revenge on T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa. During his time in Harlem, N’Jadaka changed his name to Erik Killmonger and dedicated his life to avenging his family’s murder.
Erik cultivated his combat skills, and eventually got his Doctorate in engineering, before contacting T’Challa himself for permission to return to Wakanda. His request was granted, and once in the country, the villain began working to overthrow the King. After wreaking havoc on several small villages, Killmonger lured The Black Panther into coming to help. Then, using his trained leopard, Preyy, as well as a number of his followers, the man formerly known as N’Jadaka attacked. After being defeated in his initial run-in, Killmonger returned again with the aid of fellow baddies Sombre and King Cadaver. After another battle, T’Challa prevailed again, this time killing his foe in the process.
Killmonger was resurrected by his followers and, in a meeting of villainous minds, teamed up with Klaue to take down T’Challa. This time, however, he succeeded, defeating T’Challa and taking control of Wakanda. Though, when Killmonger tried to consume the Heart-Shaped Herb to undergo the full process of becoming The Black Panther, the Herb turned out to be poisonous to those not of the royal bloodline. After recovering from being poisoned, Erik learned that T’Challa had retaken his place on the throne, but had not resumed his duties as The Black Panther—a New York cop named Kaspar Cole had taken over the mantle instead. Killmonger created a synthetic version of the Heart-Shaped Herb and came to New York City for a rendezvous with Cole, and attempted to woo him into revolting against T’Challa to no avail.
Recently, since T’Challa resumed his position as The Black Panther, Killmonger was the despotic ruler of Wakanda’s neighbor country, Niganda. After capturing T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, Wakanda invaded in retaliation and, in the chaos, Erik Killmonger was killed again.
Meet Erik Killmonger, Ulysses Klaue, and the rest of the characters in Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” on February 16!