Who Is: Killmonger (Marvel Comics)

Written by Fabian Wood

December 1, 2022

Essentially a child soldier and enslaved person stolen from his homeland of Wakanda, N’Jadaka grew up with an intense hatred for his country of origin, feeling they’d abandoned him. He’d also develop a seething resentment and loathing for the world for its hypocrisy and myriad systemic injustices. Taking matters into his own hands, N’Jadaka (whose name was legally changed to “Erik Killmonger”) educated himself academically and in the ways of war. In adulthood, Erik returned to Wakanda repeatedly to either overthrow the kingdom or decimate it. This made him a noteworthy recurring adversary of T’Challa, king of Wakanda, and the heroic “Black Panther.” 

Erik Killmonger. Image credit Marvel Comics.

A militant revolutionary and terrorist, Erik is skilled both as a peerless soldier (physically enhanced by the same rare heart-shaped herb that empowers the Black Panther) and a tactician, as well as a successful and manipulative leader and insurrectionist. Cheating death and besting his arch-nemesis on more than one occasion, Erik’s victories (including briefly becoming the Black Panther) would often be short-lived; but that has never deterred Killmonger.

While it is easy to say Erik is merely an “evil” version or antithesis of Black Panther, his socio-political philosophies make this supervillain compelling and stand out above the rest. This is no more exemplified in the critically acclaimed masterpiece live-action film Black Panther (2018), where the talented Michael B Jordan portrayed him. For this reason, Erik Killmonger is one of the most thought-provoking, cunning, and dangerous Black villains in comics.

For a list of more awe-inspiring and terrifying Black characters in comics, check out the Top 10 Most Powerful Black Characters in Comics.

Hailing from the eastern-most Caribbean island of Barbados, Fabian Wood has long since been fascinated by the power of storytelling to inspire and invoke emotions – whether in film, comics, or videogames. No longer content to be just an avid comic book reader and videogamer, he’s eager to exercise his literary acumen as an aspiring writer and reviewer.

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