In a discussion elsewhere, the notion of an Essential Black Panther volume came up. And even though the only Essential I currently own is the Howard the Duck one, I'd be strongly tempted by a BP collection. So I set out to figure what it should include.
The biggest problem with an Essential BP is that T'Challa debuted in "Fantastic Four" in 1966, and managed to maintain a fairly regular presence in the MU thereafter with some noteworthy stories being told, but he didn't actually get his own series until he took over "Jungle Action" in 1973. And the entirety of that series only totals about 325 pages, which leaves another ~250 pages needed to fill an Essential. So what else ought to be included?
Here's my proposal:
Fantastic Four #52-53 (the first appearance of BP)
The lead story from Fantastic Four Annual #5 (BP's second appearance)
Tales of Suspense #97-99 (third appearance, IIRC; BP & Cap team-up; 30 pages total)
Captain America #100 (concludes ToS story)
Avengers #52 (BP joins the Avengers)
Avengers #62 ("The Monarch and the Man-Ape"; reprinted in Jungle Action #5)
Avengers #87 ("The Origin of the Black Panther")
Jungle Action #6-22, 24 (note, #23 reprinted a BP crossover in Daredevil #69)
Black Panther #14-15
Marvel Premiere #51-53
That totals up to about 550 pages, just right for an Essential. Some of the one-issue crossovers, like the second Team-Up, could certainly be sacrificed for space if need be. If you're curious about the details of particular issues, consult the Grand Comics Database.
The most notable omission here, I'm sure, is the Jack Kirby BP series, which began in 1977, before the last couple of issues included above. I have a few reasons for this. First, the first half of that series was recently published as a volume unto itself, and in color. Second, Kirby's series is pretty far removed from the BP stories that came both before and after. Until Priest incorporated some of it in his series, Kirby's entire run was generally considered out of continuity altogether.
Third, and most importantly, Kirby's series runs 255 pages in length. There's no room to fit it all in this first volume, and it seems silly to split it across two volumes. If it ought to be included at all, I think it should be reserved for Volume 2, where it could start off the volume and be included in its entirety, and still leave room for another 300 pages.
I've also included only three Avengers issues, although T'Challa was present in many more. These three are very BP-centric, so I think they definitely belong. It's arguable that #54-55 should also be included, since they feature the return of Klaw, but that's still really an Avengers story.
Thoughts? Are there issues that my compilation is missing, or issues that really shouldn't belong? It could accomodate another issue, but I think any cuts would require that something be added to fill the hole left behind.