Ever since the first leaked images of this mysterious "American Panther" costume were revealed, I've been trying to ignore it. Head in the sand. I did address it in my extended criticism of the current direction of the character of T'Challa, former king of Wakanda and former Chieftain of the Black Panther Clan, in Black Panther: Man Without Fear, but for the most part, I've just been telling myself that it's some other guy in the suit. Just some other guy. Some other guy. For the love of god, some other guy.
Then this little blurb showed up on Comics Alliance today of BP: MWF writer David Liss and editor Bill Rosemann talking about their plans for this concept, saying it will be "a microcosm of the American immigration experience." They're still being cagey about not confirming or denying whether or not this is actually T'Challa in this suit, which still gives me reason to keep my fingers crossed that it'll be somebody else. It has to be.
You may say the fact that he's living in the big melting pot of New York City these days, Hell's Kitchen, could make him want to make his stay more permanent. You could say that he considers Steve Rogers, the erstwhile Captain America, to be like a brother to him, so it's not as though he's opposed to American patriotism on principle. But this is the king of an African nation we're talking about – a nation against which factions of the American government have committed acts of war and espionage. Even if he were to value the ideals of American society enough to want to officially immigrate (even though it falls so woefully short of those ideals every day, and his own country is in dire need of all the help it can get and he's here dicking around in the Big Apple for some reason), he would not run around draped so gaudily and obnoxiously in the flag of the nation like this. Can't we maintain a little international flavor that isn't an iron-fisted despot like Dr. Doom? Does everything have to be crammed into our perspectives?
The point is that Man Without Fear is already stripping away so much of what makes T'Challa unique and interesting and forcing him into the generic New York vigilante mold. Doing this insipid thing to the formerly regal and dignified man would just hurt. The only way this even kinda makes sense is if T'Challa is on this quest to find his identity separate from Wakanda, and for some reason he's trying on all his friends' identities for size first – such as Daredevil and Cap – to see that they don't fit. But even that just seems… stupid of him.
So it's somebody else. It has to be. Please.