Many years ago, Ulysses Klaw led a treacherous attack on Wakanda and its royal family. Klaw even managed to kill the king, T'Chaka, before being stopped by T'Chaka's young son, T'Challa. Klaw was repelled and left Wakanda, but not before he took back a number of Wakandans to serve as his slaves. One of these was a boy whose parents Klaw had killed, a boy named N'jadaka. Little is known of N'jadaka's time as a slave to his parents' killer, but we do know that N'jadaka harbored an intense hatred for T'Chaka, his former king. He believed that weakness on T'Chaka's part was a key factor in allowing his parents to be killed. N'jadaka became educated in the United States, adopting the name Erik Killmonger, earning a PhD in Engineering and an MBA. It is said that he even taught for a time at M.I.T.
Erik Killmonger was created by Don McGergor and Rich Buckler and first appeared in Jungle Action volume 2 issue 6 (1973).
Major Story Arcs
Versus the Panther
When T'Chaka's son, T'Challa adopted the mantle of the Black Panther and joined the Avengers in New York City, Killmonger recognized the son of his hated former king. He came to New York and introduced himself, explaining the story of his abduction by Klaw and his wish to return to his native country, but concealing his hatred of T'Challa and his family. Killmonger was repatriated to Wakanda where he began to gather the resources and make the contacts that would help him overthrow T'Challa as King of the Wakandas.
Killmonger discovered the Altar of Resurrection in the the forbidden Land of the Chilling Mist. The Altar of Resurrection was built upon the remains of an ancient, powerful meteor that had landed in Wakanda in ancient times. The bizarre radiations of the Altar could even grant powers in some manner. Killmonger harnessed the Altar to empower a number of his agents - Malice, King Cadaver, Sombre, Salamander K'ruel, Baron Macabre, Madame Slay, Venomm, and others. In addition to these agents, Killmonger keeps a loyal pet cheetah named Preyy.
Killmonger's first attempt to take over Wakanda involved many battles, but was bookended by two fights he had with the Black Panther atop Warrior Falls. In the first, he handily defeated the Black Panther, tossing him over the falls. Sheer chance saved T'Challa's life. In the second, Killmonger was again about to defeat the Black Panther when he was attacked from behind by a boy who had been orphaned by Killmonger's Death Regiments. The boy's attack knocked the startled Killmonger over the falls to his death.
Since then, Killmonger has returned. His first return was as an animated corpse controlled by the Mandarin. Later, though, he was brought back from the dead, presumably by the Altar of Resurrection. He returned to menace T'Challa once again, this time in an attempt to crash the Wakandan economy in order to provoke a revolution within the country. This led both men facing one another in a rematch atop Warrior Falls. The two foes were evenly matched, but a distraction caused by the unexpected arrival of Everett Ross allowed Killmonger to deal a fatal blow to T'Challa. Having defeated the king in ritual combat, Killmonger was made the new head of the Panther Clan, and became the new Black Panther. During his short time as Black Panther, Killmonger attempted to gain membership in the Avengers, and ended up in a battle with Deadpool after the mercenary was hired to steal Preyy. Killmonger was subsequently rendered comatose after ingesting the Heart-Shaped Herb, which can be deadly to those who are not of the royal bloodline.
Killmonger later awakened from his coma, only to find that T'Challa had returned from the dead and retaken his office. Killmonger later tried to manipulate the new Black Panther, Kasper Cole, into forming an alliance with him, offering the young man information and an artificial Heart-Shaped Herb in exchange for loyalty.
Some time later, Killmonger conquered the nation of Niganda and installed himself as leader. When Monica Rambeau was sent to try and help stop him, he had her captured and imprisoned. Killmonger engaged in a violent duel with T'Challa, which ended with his near victory. However, just as Killmonger was about to finish off his hated foe, Monica killed him by flying through his body.
Powers and Abilities
Erik Killmonger is a tremendously huge and powerful man, with enhanced speed, durability and reflexes. His lifting capability exceeded that of T'Challa's previous baseline (over 900lbs), and Killmonger has proven capable of defeating Black Panther in one on one combat, in multiple confrontations. To this day, T'Challa has never been able to defeat Killmonger in one-on-one combat.
Killmonger is a revolutionary leader, well-known to all Wakandans, and even supported by some. The village he grew up in has even been renamed N'jadaka Village. His revolutionary charisma, his mastery of politics and economics, his tactical cunning, and his access to the Altar of Resurrection would likely make him Black Panther's greatest foe, even if his physical abilities were not as amazing as they are.
In addition to Killmonger's own abilities, Killmonger is always served by his deadly cat, Preyy and the Death Regiments, zombie-like soldiers created by the Altar of Resurrection. Killmonger has also been known to use many agents to accomplish his missions. Not only has he worked with the agents of his original revolution, Venomm, Malice, Lord Karnaj, Baron Macabre, King Cadaver, Salamander K'ruel, and Sombre, but he has also hired a number of American agents like Nightshade, Boss Morgan, and Hydro-Man as part of his schemes.
In Other Media
Killmonger appears as the main antagonist in the 2018 Black Panther movie, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan. His name is changed to Erik Stevens, while "Killmonger" is regulated to a nickname he earned in the military.
In the film, his origin is changed so that he is now the American-born son of N'Jobu, King T'Chaka's brother. When T'Chaka kills N'Jobu after discovering that he had helped Ulysses Klaue sneak into Wakanda and steal a large amount of vibranium, Erik is left behind in America in order to keep N'Jobu's death a secret. Forced to grow up in an impoverished neighborhood in Oakland, an enraged Erik vows revenge and spends his entire life training to overthrow the Wakandan royal family. After graduating from Annapolis and MIT, Erik joins the Navy SEALS and eventually becomes a seasoned black-ops agent.
Some time later, Erik goes off the grid and forms an alliance with Ulysses Klaue, before betraying and murdering the criminal in order to gain entry to Wakanda. Using Klaue's death as leverage, he is able to enter the country and address the royal court, where he reveals his true lineage. Erik then challenges T'Challa for the throne, and becomes the new ruler of Wakanda after defeating and seemingly killing his cousin. As Wakanda's king, Erik gains superhuman abilities after ingesting the Heart-Shaped Herb, and becomes the new Black Panther as well after stealing a prototype vibranium battle suit that had been created by Shuri.
Erik then launches his late father's plan to arm the oppressed citizens of the world with vibranium weaponry so they can overthrow those in power, a scheme that threatens to destroy both Wakanda and the rest of the planet as well. T'Challa is revealed to have survived his duel with Erik, and returns to challenge him to a final battle.
In the ensuing confrontation, Erik is fatally wounded, but chooses to die rather than accept T'Challa's offer for medical assistance. He ultimately dies after witnessing the Wakandan sunset that his father had once told him about, and asks to be buried at sea.
- Erik Killmonger is a playable character in the Black Panther DLC set for Lego Marvel's Avengers.
- Erik Killmonger appears in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2.
- Killmonger appears as a playable fighter in Marvel Contest of Champions.
- Killmonger appears in Marvel Future Fight.
- Killmonger was featured in Hasbro's Marvel Legends series as part of the Okoye Build-a-Figure wave.
- A variant of the aforementioned Marvel Legends figure, now featuring an unmasked head, was later released as part of an exclusive two-pack with Everett K. Ross.
- Killmonger was heavily featured in Hasbro's toyline for the Black Panther film, including the Titan Heroes series.
- Iron Studios produced a diorama featuring Killmonger in a battle with Black Panther, Okoye and Nakia.
- Diamond Collectibles released a PVC statue of Killmonger.
- Killmonger was featured in Funko's POP! line of bobbleheads, in both his mercenary and Black Panther outfits.
- Hot Toys released a figure of Killmonger in his Black Panther outfit.