“It took me 32 years to wonder — why is the Black Panther in this pinup? Anyone know?”
He asked me because the picture appeared in a magazine called the Daredevil Chronicles, which FantaCo published in 1982. This was a magazine Mitch Cohn edited, while I was editing the Fantastic Four Chronicles. He also asked Klaus Janson, the inker on the piece over Frank Miller’s pencils, the same question.
Truth is, I had never thought about it. In the Daredevil “family”, Elektra (the woman on the top) and the Black Widow (the woman on the bottom) were featured in that comic. But Black Panther, other than being another costumed Marvel character, was not related to DD at that time.
But around that same period, there was a competing product, the Daredevil Index, published by George Olshevsky, which was, oddly, 9B in the series:
Frank Miller also penciled this piece, although Joe Rubenstein inked it. Perhaps the item appearing in the DD Chronicles was an early iteration of what appeared as the cover of the DD Index, which also featured The Black Panther, as well as Shanna, Black Goliath, Human Fly & Dazzler. I no longer have my DD Index, alas.
I should note, for those unfamiliar, that the Black Panther had nothing to do with the political movement of the same name, and in fact, predated the organization. Rather, it referred to T’Challa, an African king, who first appeared in a Fantastic Four comic book, cover dated July 1966, but released a few months earlier. It was the then-upcoming version of Olshevsky’s X-Men Index that prompted FantaCo to come out with the X-Men Chronicles the year before.
If someone has a more definitive answer to this question, please feel free to jump in. This is merely my best guess.