Taku is the country of Wakanda’s Chief of Communications, and is a trusted personal advisor of King T’Challa, the Black Panther. He can usually be found in the command centre of Wakanda’s Techno-Jungle in tunnels below Wakandan Central City. Taku remains in constant contact with the Black Panther anywhere in the world through the Kimoyo Card communications system.

Taku is a gentle and peaceful man, with a preference towards quiet introspection and philosophy. His advice to the king is often in direct contrast to that of T’Challa’s more aggressive advisor, W’Kabi, Chief of Security. Although he is a very peaceful man who abhors violence he can fight if necessary or sufficiently provoked although he always regrets it afterward.

Taku befriended the villain Venomm while he was being held in Wakandan prison for his part in Erik Killmonger’s attempted revolution in Wakanda. While most people were repelled by Venomm’s hideously scarred appearance, Taku was able to see through to the poet’s soul inside the man. Over the year that Venomm was imprisoned, Taku developed a relationship with Venomm and tried to encourage him to free himself from his anger and pain and choose a new path in his life.

After Venomm’s escape Taku intervened when Venomm tried again to kill the Black Panther, telling Venomm that he would have to kill them both. Unwilling to kill his friend, Venomm left peacefully. Later, when Killmonger’s forces invaded central Wakanda, Taku was attacked by King Cadaver and was saved by Venomm. The relationship between the two men continued to grow after this, and Venomm lived in the Wakandan court for several years as Taku’s guest. Although Taku’s friends still did not fully trust Venomm and questioned his judgement in choosing Venomm as his companion they did still respect Taku’s right to choose.

Although it has never been explicitly stated on-panel, Taku is gay and was in a relationship with Venomm. Don McGregor has confirmed in multiple interviews that this was always his intention, but he was unable to be direct about it on-panel due to the Comics Code restrictions of the time when he was writing Jungle Action in the 1970s.

He did manage to imply it though, most notably in the adult-reader Panther’s Prey miniseries. In it T’Challa and W’Kabi discuss their concerns over Taku’s choice of “companion”, with W’Kabi saying he wished someone had showed that type of concern before he got married–making a direct comparison between Taku’s friendship with Venomm and a marriage.

Taku first appeared in Avengers vol.1 #68 by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. He was developed as a gay character by Don McGregor, most notably in Panther’s Prey #2 (1991).

Art by Ryan Bodenheim (top) and Dwayne Turner (right).

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March 26, 2018
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