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Jazz’s Derrick Favors says he didn’t do himself any favors by missing out on Black Panther comic books

Utah forward’s collection is devoid of the character from the epic movie, but he plans to change that

SACRAMENTO, California — Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors is regretting not adding any vintage Black Panther comic books to his collection before the popular movie came out.

Favors has been a fan of comic books since he was a child and says he owns about 40 vintage comic books and about 20 graphic novels. The most notable comic book in the eight-year NBA player’s collection is a 1960 issue of Superman Annual No. 1, which is the first of a reprint of old stories from the 1940s. But after seeing the movie Black Panther, Favors wishes he had added some vintage comic books about King T’Challa and Wakanda to his collection.

“I am kicking myself. It’s a good story. I kind of missed out on it, especially as a kid. I’m definitely going to look into it now,” Favors said before scoring 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds as the Jazz defeated the Sacramento Kings, 98-91, on March 3.

Favors’ uncle Clarence Jordan is an avid graphic novel collector who often bought two comic books in order to read one and store away the other as a collector’s item. When Favors was a child, Jordan got his nephew into reading comic books to expand his limited reading. Favors instantly fell in love with the superhero comic book stories as well as others, which helped him become a better reader.

Favors said the comic books in his collection are vintage but some are also weathered. The Atlanta native has no intention of ever selling them. Favors has said that reading comic books takes his mind off his problems and allows him to escape into a different world.

“One of my uncles just thought I needed something to read,” Favors said. “You see a kid that you want to give something to read. He just decided to give me a couple of comic books, and that’s when I fell in love with it.”

Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors dunks during the second half of an NBA game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans on Feb. 5. The Jazz won 133-109.

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Favors’ love for comic books has also made him a huge fan of superhero movies. His favorite movie is the 2008 Batman thriller The Dark Knight. The laid-back NBA veteran became a fan of the insane character The Joker, who was portrayed by Heath Ledger.

Many African-Americans went to see Black Panther with immense pride and even wore African garb and other African-American heritage wear in celebration of the Africa-based fictional characters. While Favors certainly is proud of his African-American heritage, he recently watched Black Panther with a stronger eye on whether it lived up to his high standard for comic book movies. He was so impressed by Black Panther that it challenged his love for his favorite movie.

“I went in as a comic book fan, so I wanted to watch the movie from [that] perspective,” Favors said. “I thought it was great. The Dark Knight is one of the greatest comic book movies ever. I put Black Panther probably second or third. It depends on where you want to put Iron Man, which was really good. But I put Black Panther like two or three.”

After being released on Feb. 16, Black Panther has grossed $500 million domestically and $897.7 million globally.

The impact of the movie has been evident in the NBA.

Indiana Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo wore a Black Panther mask during the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on Feb. 17. Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star forward LeBron James and teammate Jeff Green have offered each other a pregame “Wakanda Forever” hand salute. Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee took 150 kids to see the movie in Oakland, California, on Sunday. Last month, New Orleans Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo rented a theater in Louisville, Kentucky, so more than 300 kids could see the movie, and Dallas Mavericks small forward Harrison Barnes hosted 150 kids at a Black Panther showing.

“It gave a good image for kids to see,” Favors said. “A lot of superheroes are other colors, so it was good to see a full black comic book movie that shows a lot of history behind their made-up country. I thought it was a great movie.”

The Black Panther comic book character was created by Marvel Comics writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Jack Kirby more than 50 years ago. The Black Panther first appeared in a Marvel comic book in Fantastic Four No. 52 in July 1966. The description of that comic book from the app “comiXology” reads, “The first appearance of Black Panther! On a mission in the remote wilderness of Wakanda, the Fantastic Four encounter one of Marvel’s most iconic heroes. But how are the Inhumans involved in this early encounter? The FF bested in the battle by the Black Panther.”

The African-American political organization the Black Panther Party was founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in October 1966, just months after the Black Panther comic book character debuted. In an August 2011 interview with Alter Ego, Lee said there was no connection between the Black Panther comic book character and the Black Panther Party and that perhaps he gave the African superhero the wrong name.

“It was a strange coincidence because at the time I did ‘The Black Panther,’ there was a political party in this country — mostly black people — and they were called the Black Panthers,” Lee told Alter Ego. “And I didn’t think of that at all! It had nothing to do with our character, although a lot of people thought there was some tie-in. And I was really sorry. Maybe, if I had to do it over again, I’d have given him another name because I hate confusion to be caused. But it really had nothing to do with the then-existing Black Panthers.”

The Black Panther was the first superhero of African descent in mainstream American comic books and debuted before such African-American comic book heroes as Marvel Comics’ Falcon (1969) and Luke Cage (1972) and DC Comics’ Green Lantern (1971).

Favors doesn’t own any Black Panther comic books and thinks it might be harder to get his hands on some vintage editions. He plans on visiting a Salt Lake City comic book store soon in hopes of buying some to “catch up on that story,” which he described as “amazing.”

“Back when comic books were big, I don’t think the Black Panther was that big of a comic book [superhero],” Favors said. “You had Superman, Iron Man, all the Avengers. I think that comic book got overlooked. I didn’t know that much about him. He was in the X-Men some and the Avengers some. But Marvel had so many great characters and comic books that he was overlooked.

“It takes a little time to find the right one. You don’t want to just jump into a series and go pick Issue 50 or 60 and you don’t know the story behind it. You have to take time to find the right cover story.”

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for The Undefeated. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.