PANTHER GOD

Real Name: Bastet

Identity/Class: Egyptian God (Ennead)

Occupation: Patron god to the Wakandans, god of pleasure, dancing, and music

Group Membership: Ennead

Affiliations: Black Panther (every Black Panther, ever), Children of Bast, Jubali, Khonshu, Panther Cult, Sheshonk, Storm (Ororo Munroe), people of Bubastis and Wakanda (and some in the nations surrounding Wakanda);
    formerly
"the Panther";
    possibly "Bast's familiar"

Enemies: Gorilla God, Lion God/Sekhmet, Mephisto, Nightmare, Seth;
    Azanian apartheid government

Known Relatives: Neith (Gaea, grandmother), Nun (Demiurge, grandfather), Ammon Ra, (Atum, father), Thoth (uncle), Shu (brother), Sekhmet (Lion God, brother), Tefnut (sister), Bes, Khonshu (half-brother), Hathor (half-sister), Mahes (Apedemak, son), Geb & Nut (nephew & niece), Osiris, Seth (grandnephews), Isis, Nepthys (grandnieces), Anubis, Horus (great-grand-nephews), others

Aliases: Bastet, Bubastis, Cat God, Cat Goddess, Lady of the East, Baast-Hathor, Panther Goddess

Place of Birth: Bubastis (near modern-day Zagazig, Egypt)

Base of Operations: The Panther pavilion, presumably somewhere bordering Celestial Heliopolis

First Appearance: (Totem) Fantastic Four I#52 (July, 1966);
    (fully) Black Panther III#5 (March, 1999);
    (identified) Black Panther III#21 (August, 2000)

Powers/Abilities: Like most gods, Bast has superhumanly strength, durability, longevity, etc. Bast is believed to be extremely powerful, though he typically acts through surrogates or possesses and grants power to others (usually some degree of superhuman strength, speed, agility, senses, etc.). Each of the Black Panther's is connected to Bast and derives power from his support. Bast typically appears most commonly as an immense black panther or a humanoid panther, and Bast has both male and female forms. Empowered by the sun, Bast is one of the most powerful of the Ennead.

Height: Variable
Weight: Variable
Eyes: Green (variable)
Hair: Black

History: (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#5: Heliopolitan Gods/Thor Annual#10/Silver Surfer Annual#2/5 (fb)) - The Elder Goddess Gaea combined with sentient spirit of Earth's biosphere, the Demiurge to form Atum.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#5: Heliopolitan Gods) - Atum later took the aspect of Ra, the primordial god of the sun who was the first to be worshipped amongst the people of Egypt.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition AZ#2: Council of Godheads) - As Ammon Ra, he ruled the Ogdoad, the first incarnation of gods of Egypt.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition AZ#2: Council of Godheads) - Ammon Ra later ruled the Ennead, the modern incarnation of gods of Egypt.

(Egyptian Myth) - Ammon Ra sired the next generation of gods, Shu (god of air) and Tefnut (goddess of rain), without a female mate. He later gave birth to the cat-headed Bast and the lion-headed Sekhmet.

(Egyptian Myth) - Both Bast and Sekhmet represented aspects of their father; while the kind Bast represented the sun's life-giving heat, the violent Sekhmet represented the sun's destructive fury.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#5: Heliopolitan Gods - BTS) - Ra was eventually succeeded as ruler of the Ennead pantheon by Shu, with Tefnut ruling by his side.

(Conan the Barbarian I#226-227 - BTS) - Circa 10, 000 BC, the Children of Bast, dwelled in the mountaintop city Bastet, existing as panthers but becoming human via the magical Eye of Bast gem until its theft by Conan.

(Savage Sword of Conan#9 - BTS) - Conan and the Zuagirs found an idol of Bast, but cast it back into the desert to avoid falling under its power.

(Conan the Barbarian I#262 - BTS) - As Baast-Haastor, Conan was worshipped as a Panther Goddess and granted power to others, such as Jubali.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#5: Heliopolitan Gods - BTS) - As the pharaohs took over rule of Egypt, many gods moved to Celestial Heliopolis.

(Black Panther III#21) - Bast adopted a realm bordering Ala (home of the Orishas (African gods)), making his temple in the Panther Pavilion.

(Egyptian Myth) - In ancient Egypt, Bast was worshipped primarily in the city of Bubastis (the capital of Am-Khent, the 18th province of Lower Egypt dominated by the ethnic Berbers). Bast was Bubastis' most celebrated deity: great festivals were held in Bast's honor and it became a pious custom to bury the carefully mummified bodies of cats in the shadows of Bast's sanctuaries. Bast was known for protecting men against contagious diseases and evil spirits. But Bast remained largely removed from the larger Heliopolitan pantheon - Bast and Sekhmet (although polar opposites of each other) were often confused with each other by non-Bubastisites. Bast gave birth to a lion-headed son named Mahes who became a God of War and was worshipped in Nubia (south of Egypt) as "Apedemak."

(Before the Fantastic Four: Reed Richards#1 (fb) - BTS) - An unidentified sorcerer created the Claw of Bast, a powerful artifact using Bast's power to restore the sick or dead; or provide power to its wielder. The Claw was used 7 times before Egyptian leader Khafre, in 2500 BC, had the Claw fragmented into a Claw of Bast, Eye of Bast, and Sceptre of Bast, with the lesser Claw hidden within the Sphinx itself alongside Khafre's soul.

(Egyptian Myth) - But Bast rose to prominence within the Heliopolitan pantheon in 952 B.C. when Sheshonk, a Libyan (the Berber ethnic group of Northwest Africa) who had served as Commander of the Egyptian Army, rose to power and became Pharaoh of Egypt, commencing Ancient Egypt's 22nd Dynasty and making Bubastis a place of prominence.

(Fantastic Four I#52 (fb) - BTS / Black Panther III#5 (fb) - BTS / Avengers I#87 (fb) - BTS) - For many centuries, Bast, the Panther God, has been patron to the African nation Wakanda. A Panther Cult developed, with a succession of representatives undergoing rites (including consumption of a rare, heart-shaped herb) binding each to Bast and becoming Wakanda's spiritual and literal leader, the Black Panther.

(Avengers I#62 (fb) - BTS / Avengers I#87 (fb) - BTS / Avengers I#112 (fb) - BTS) - In Wakanda, the Panther Cult is rivaled by the Jabari tribe, worshippers of the White Gorilla and the Gorilla God (possibly Thoth in his ape aspect or the more ancient Gullah); and the worshippers of Sekhmet, the Lion God.

(Uncanny Tales#14 - BTS) <1953> - Miles Keston was tricked into using the "Black Book of Bast" to kill himself by his partner Walter Prelle. The book was most likely supported by an imposter.

(Before the Fantastic Four: Reed Richards#1-3 - BTS) - In more recent years, the Claw fragments were reassembled by Reed Richards, Francesca Fisher, and Victor von Doom, and Khafre's spirit animated the Sphinx, but Reed Richards and Francesca Fisher used the Claw to disperse the Sphinx's energy, and the Claw crumbled after curing Richards' mentor, Professor van Nuys, of the debilitating Sebert Syndrome.

(Thor I#386 - BTS) - In his second take-over of Heliopolis, Seth imprisoned the Heliopolitan gods again, but this time drained off their powers. He apparently captured one of Bast's familiars and drained off enough power from her to keep her subservient to him, he sent her on espionage and reconnaissance missions in Asgard to see if they were aware of his plans. Secretly viewing Balder ruling in Odin's absence, she reported his conversation with Odin's vizier to Seth before being reduced to dust by his whims.

(Black Panther II#1-4) - In recent years, Bast became impatient with the current Black Panther (T'Challa)'s diplomatic policy towards neighboring Azania's apartheid oppression, and Bast directly possessed a tortured Azanian who prayed for aid. Bast withdrew his power and support from T'Challa, leading to unrest in Wakanda, while the Azanian used his powerful Panther form and powers to attack Azanian soldiers and officials, leading the people to rebel, only to be slaughtered by the heavily armed soldiers. Ultimately the Panther challenged T'Challa directly, and T'Challa outwitted and subdued the Panther, regaining Bast's respect and power; T'Challa continued his non-violent support of the black Azanian minority, who soon gained a voice in the Azanian government.

(Black Panther III#5) - When the Hell-lord Mephisto sought to consume T'Challa's soul, he was forced to consume Bast's as well as every previous Black Panther; unable to contain this mass of noble, pure spirits, Mephisto relinquished them all and swore to avoid Wakanda.

(Black Panther III#18-22) - T'Challa's bond to Bast was later severed by Erik Killonger and an effort to restore it drew the demon Nightmare to assault Bast's mystical base and the Black Panther spirits present. Ultimately T'Challa restored his bond to Bast and forced Nightmare to relinquish the Panther spirits or be trapped in the realm of the dead.

(Black Panther IV#8) - Most recently, Bast judged T'Challa's bride, Ororo Munroe (Storm) as worthy.

(X-Men: Worlds Apart#3) - After Storm defeated the Shadow King-possessed Black Panther (T'Challa), she traveled to the temple of the Panther God and sought a commune with the Panther God. After initially being angered by her arrogance, the Panther God aided her by sending a pack of panthers to her side, which proved his support and earned her the trust of the Wakandans.

(X-Men: Worlds Apart#4) - Storm defeated the Shadow King-possessed Cyclops who then possessed her. On the Astral Plane, however, the Shadow King found that Storm had remained bound to the Panther God, who devoured the Shadow King.

NOTE: Bast is sometimes erroneously listed as the offspring of Osiris.

Comments: Adapted by unknown writer and Joe Sinnott
    Reused in the Marvel Universe by Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz.

    Bast was often depicted holding a sistrum (a percussion instrument used by women to keep the beat while dancing). 

    Bast's not taking residence within Heliopolis, and not being directly involved with the Heliopolitan gods, would fit with Bast not having been defeated or imprisoned either time when Seth conquered the gods of Heliopolis. Bast is much less tied to the gods of Heliopolis than to other more distant Ennead, such as Khonshu.

    I don't know how to fit the Ogdoad in with the Marvel Universe.
    According to Anthony: The primary Ogdoad deities were arranged in 4male/female pairings:  Nu/Naunet, Amun/Amaunet, Kuk/Kauket, Huh/Hauhet.  They lived in Hermopolis as opposed to Heliopolis.  They don't really fit into the Marvel cosmology because the Ogdoad (who personify primordial water, air, darkness, and infinite space) gave rise to Ra (Atum) . . . while in in the Marvel Universe Ra was created by Gaea (Nun) and the Demiurge.  I guess you could say that the Ogdoad were early manifestations of Gaea and the Demiurge who were mistakenly recognized as multiple divine entities by the ancient Egyptians.
    Another take would be that (in the Marvel Universe) the Ogdoad did not actually give rise to Ra...but were in fact spawned by him. As his first creations, they were imperfect and aged more rapidly than the virtually immortal Ra. Since they appeared older than Ra, it was mistakenly assumed that they were his creators, when in fact they were his offspring. They eventually perished, and he started anew with the Ennead.
 

    Various magical items, such as the Claw of Bast (and its fragment, the Eye of Bast), @ Before the Fantastic Four: Reed Richards, are likely creations of, empowered by, and/or named for the Egyptian God Bast.
The Eye of Bast was used to allow the Children of Bast to maintain human forms, @ Conan the Barbarian I#226+227. It is unknown whether there is any connection between the two Eyes of Bast. Maybe that's it...there were two eyes?
    In addition, in Savage Sword of Conan#9, Conan and a bunch of other Zuagirs (Desert Rats/Nomad thieves), fought nearly to death over a mystical Cat Goddess idol they stole from a priest. Conan, of course, won the battle, but he found that he, too, was falling under the idol's power, and so he cast it into the desert sands, where it was quickly covered by the wind.
    AND, in Conan the Barbarian#262, Conan encountered Jubali, who worshipped the Panther Goddess, Baast-Hathor.

    I also read somewhere that there were thoughts that Amra of the Hyborian Era was the predecessor of the Black Panthers. However, Amra was "The Lion," and would fit better with followers of the Lion God.
In addition, an issue of Conan the Savage stated that an upcoming story would feature a Hyborian version of the Black Panther, though it never came about.
--Per Degaton

    Christopher Priest, my favorite writer for Black Panther, revealed that the Panther God is, in fact, the Egyptian God(dess) Bast. It is certainly not out of the norm for mythological characters to have male and female aspects. The term god could also be used as the word man, which may refer to all of mankind, referring to both males and females

The Panther God received an entry in the All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update#2.

Profile by: Snood, with help from Zen Harawada and William Uchtman

Thanks to Zak Smith for noting a misspelling of Orishas.

Clarifications: Bast has no known connection to:

  • The Bast dimension, a microworld inhabited by Jarr and Tyrr, @ Iron Man I#50
  • Bass, one of the Hellbent, @ Moon Knight III#58

Bast's familiar

    In his second take-over of Heliopolis, Seth imprisoned the Heliopolitan gods again, but this time drained off their powers. He apparently captured one of Bast's familiars and drained off enough power from her to keep her subservient to him, he sent her on espionage and reconnaissance missions in Asgard to see if they were aware of his plans. Secretly viewing Balder ruling in Odin's absence, she reported his conversation with Odin's vizier to Seth before being reduced to dust by his whims.

She presumably possesses the conventional powers of the Egyptian gods including superhuman strength (possibly Class 25) and endurance plus undefined skills to manipulate energy. She could also turn herself into a small cat (and at presumably other sizes) and back into her normal form.

    It's not actually known whether this cat-goddess has anything to do with Bast, the Panther God. She was unidentified in the story, and Will had originally assumed her to be Bast.

--Thor I#386

 

 


images: (without ads)
Black Panther III#36 cover, by Sal Velluto and Bob Almond.
Fantastic Four I#52 (1966), p4, panel 3 by Jack Kirby "Panther Totem"
Thor I#386, p5, pan6 (main image)


Appearances:
Fantastic Four I#52 (July, 1966) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks)
Avengers I#62 (March, 1969) - Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (pencils), George Klein (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Avengers I#87 (April, 1971) - Roy Thomas (writer), Frank Giacoia (pencils), Sal Buscema (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Avengers I#112 (June, 1973) - Steve Englehart (writer), Don Heck (pencils), Frank Bolle (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Savage Sword of Conan I#9 (December, 1975) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), Pablo Marcos (artist)
Thor Annual#10 (1982) - Mark Gruenwald (writer/editor), Alan Zelenetz (writer), Bob Hall (penciler), Rick Bryant, Joe Rubinstein, Andy Myshynsky, Al Gordon, Kevin Dzuban (inkers)
Thor I#386 (December, 1987) - Tom DeFalco (writer), Ron Frenz (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Black Panther II#1-4 (July-October, 1988) - Peter B. Gillis (writer), Denys Cowan (pencils), Sam DeLaRosa (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Silver Surfer Annual#2 (1989) - Peter Sanderson (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Keith Williams (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Conan the Barbarian I#226-227 (December, 1989) - Gerry Conway (writer), Jose Delbo (pencils), Mark Texeira & Rob Tokar (#227) (inks), Don Daley (editor)
Conan the Barbarian I#262 (November, 1992) - Roy Thomas (writer), E.R. Cruz (artist), Richard Ashford (editor)
Black Panther III#5 (March, 1999) - Christopher Priest (writer), Vince Evans (artist), Joe Quesada (editor)
Before the Fantastic Four: Reed Richards#1-3 (September-October, December, 2000) - Peter David (writer), Duncan Fegredo (artist), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Black Panther III#18 (May, 2000) - Christopher Priest (writer), Kyle Hotz (pencils), Eric Powell (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Black Panther III#19-22 (June-September, 2000) - Christopher Priest (writer), Sal Velluto (pencils), Bob Almond (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Black Panther IV#8 (November, 2005) - Reginald Hudlin (writer), David Yardin (pencils), Jay Leisten (inks), Axel Alonso (editor)
X-Men: Worlds Apart#2 & 4 (January & March, 2009) - Christopher Yost (writer), Diogenes Neves (penciler), Ed Tadeo (inker), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Axel Alonso (executive editor)


Last updated: 10/31/10

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