Do You Own the First Appearance of the Black Leopard?

by Norman Robinson III

FF-group-198x300 Do You Own the First Appearance of the Black Leopard?Everyone is chasing the keys nowadays and looking for that forgotten character that might become a movie. I have a tricky one for you; have you heard of the Black Leopard? No, you haven’t? Well, he first appeared in the comic book  Fantastic Four #119.

Black Leopard First Appearance

The Fantastic Four go looking for T’Challa’s contact and T’Challa himself. Ben and Johnny Storm arrive in a foreign country looking for their friend. They find a society of segregation, this angers their American sense of fair play and turns up the heat (literally). Johnny uses his flame power to melt the contact villain’s gun as he tries to blow away Johnny and Ben. Subdued the villain gives them the location of T’Challa in the local prison. The man, the myth the legend T’Challa languishes in prison in an Apartied country,” say it ain’t so!” 

In the story, “Three Stand TGogether..or Die” Ben and Johnny break T’Challa out of prison. Yep, T’Challa King of Wakanda, a.k.a. Black Panther. Salutations occur and T’challa insists that they refer to him now as the “Black Leopard.” Apparently, the writers wanted to distance the character from the American “Black Panthers” a group that was politically active in the States. T’Challa explains the need to differentiate himself from that group and becomes the Black Leopard! Is this first appearance of Marvel’s Black Leopard worthy as an investment?


Fantastic Four 119FF-119-200x300 Do You Own the First Appearance of the Black Leopard? 

The Black Leopard first appeared in Fantastic Four #119. This was scripted by Roy Thomas with the art of John Buscema in 1972. It was, I believe an attempt to isolate and protect T’Challa from the political movement of the time. To keep the superhero a unique and unspoiled property, besides Black Leopard literally means Black Panther, right? All is fair in love and writing I suppose. Despite all the hoopla over a name, immediately two months later in an issue of Daredevil #92 (Source: CBR article), Black Panther reasserts his independence of “the man!” But seriously the brave and able writing of Gerry Conway and art of Gene Colan returned the namesake to the character and he has carried it with pride ever since. Thank the greats (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Dick Giordano, you know those great ones)! 




Title Grade Last Sale CGC Census Return
Fantastic Four 119 9.8 $1505 5 +129%
  9.2 $90 19 +35.9%
  5.5 $54 2 -79.6%

black-leopard-display-300x156 Do You Own the First Appearance of the Black Leopard?Conclusion:

The CGC Census on this book is outstanding. Not many have been sent in, which gives a lot of opportunity for growth. I believe in these anecdotal examples that grade 5.5 is simply a skewed mistake and not indicative of a decline. Most if not all the FF volume one issues #100 thru 200 are slowly advancing in price.

In fact, it is my opinion that these books are just coming into their own. That is, they are starting to see an uptick in price due to interest. In actuality, there are several keys among the 100-200 issue series of first volume Fantastic Four.

It makes for a very inexpensive investment and perfect for building a collection. Especially after so many years of collectors pouring over the bins of your LCS the issues #100 thru #200 are largely forgotten.  Whether you can hunt down the Black Leopard or you continue to track and hunt the tried and true Black Panther; either one make interesting investments, it’s enough to make you want to purr…


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