A familiar face in the Marvel Universe gains a new multiversal persona in Avengers Forever #6.
Pop culture is so into multiverses right now, so Avengers Forever couldn’t have come along at a better time. It’s not the first Avengers comic to feature the concept at its core, or even the first with that exact same title for that matter, but it’s definitely being given a huge push as part of Jason Aaron’s Avengers run.
Led by Robbie Reyes—one of the Ghost Riders of Earth-616, recently designated the “All-Rider”—their team has already gained a Tony Stark variant (his universe’s Ant-Man) and a multiverse-hopping Deathlok. Avengers Forever #6 introduces yet another member to their ranks: Vibranium Man, a variant of T’Challa/Black Panther.
Avengers Forever #6 is largely an origin story for T’Challa, who has not yet appeared in prior issues. Presented as something of a Swiss Army Avenger, with powers that call to mind that of the Black Panther but also of Iron Man and Spider-Man, Vibranium Man is a mythic figure with a personal history that mirrors Moses, who is actually referenced in the text itself. Young T’Challa became the target of his universe’s Killmonger—styled after the Asgardian Destroyer—who tasked himself with eliminating every T’Challa across the vast multiverse, so his parents sent him off in a rocket in the hopes of protecting him from harm.
When we find T’Challa as an adult, he is a refugee on the Shi’ar planet of Chandilar, where individuals from various other worlds conquered by Destroyer Killmonger have taken shelter. But even the reaches of outer space aren’t enough to keep T’Challa away from his stalker; Killmonger finally locates his target after many years of searching, forcing T’Challa to stand his ground and fight back.
Though it eventually ties into the broader story being told in the series, Avengers Forever #6 more or less succeeds as a standalone story that fans of T’Challa may be interested in. As mentioned, pop culture at large is really digging into the concept of the multiverse right now, so it makes sense that Marvel in particular is doubling down in its comicbook offerings there. (See also: the latest edition of What If? that’s exclusively doing Miles Morales stories, or the currently unfolding Gwenverse mini.)
T’Challa in particular is such a great subject for these kinds of stories, because you could really take him in so many fascinating directions, as recently seen in the Star-Lord T’Challa episode of Disney+’s What If?. This issue also cleverly ends with a potential new form for Vibranium Man, likely in the hopes of hooking new readers to keep following along as the series progresses.
I will say that Avengers Forever #6, while being an entertaining read, doesn’t exactly cover new ground as a story. The Moses analog to this T’Challa’s origin is acknowledged, but the easier comparison for a lot of superhero fans is obviously Superman. It’s a classic literary plot, so this is to be expected, but it also means that you really need to do something different with that framework to avoid comparisons to other similar derivative works.
But that aside, it really is a fun little issue with great art by Jim Towe, whose killer Vibranium Man design is already beginning to find use in other applications and adaptations. In the multiverse of superhero oversaturation madness, Avengers Forever #6 is at least worthy of your time.