This article contains spoilers for King in Black: Black Panther #1, by Geoffrey Thorne and German Peralta.
Black Panther has officially created a weapon able to destroy the Phoenix Force. King T’Challa has always prided himself on being prepared for anything. Over the years, he has shown himself ready to take on threats as diverse as Galactus, the Skrulls, and even the Avengers – who haven’t always gotten on particularly well with the reclusive nation of Wakanda.
But now even Black Panther may be out of his depth. The King in Black has come to Earth, and he has successfully conquered the entire planet. The Earth is covered with a symbiote dome, cutting off the precious light and heat generated by the sun. Knull’s goal is to destroy all life, and it looks as though not even the Avengers can stop him. Fortunately, although Black Panther is nowhere near prepared for the King in Black – he had no idea Knull even existed until recently – some of his other weapons could still be of use.
King in Black: Black Panther #1, by Geoffrey Thorne and German Peralta, sees Black Panther utilize some of Wakanda’s most fearsome weapons against the invading symbiotes. The most intriguing of all is something called the “Hand of Bast.” The comic does not reveal exactly how this works, but it appears to manifest as a gigantic, spectral panther. According to T’Challa, the Hand of Bast was built to kill the Phoenix Force itself. It appears to be controlled by a single Wakandan, General Okoye, who buys T’Challa time to further develop his strategies.
This is the first time even Black Panther has shown himself ready to take on the Phoenix Force. In fact, he had no such technology back during the Avengers vs X-Men event in 2012. That would have been quite useful at the time, given Tony Stark’s bungled attempt to destroy the Phoenix Force automatically led to it being splintered between five hosts – the so-called Phoenix Five. This would also be quite useful in Jason Aaaron’s current Avengers run, where the Phoenix has returned to Earth seeking a new host, and is forcing various heroes and villains to compete in a brutal tournament for its power.
Unfortunately, the very fact T’Challa has not deployed the Hand of Bast in Aaron’s Avengers run suggests this weapon can only be used once. It proves sufficient to drive back the king in Black and his forces, giving Black Panther the chance to do what previously seemed impossible – to use sonic transmissions to open a barrier in the symbiote dome covering the planet. A large portion of Africa is exposed to sunlight once again, with Wakanda’s success bringing hope to the entire world. It remains to be seen whether this victory can be extended, and the King in Black can be driven back at last.