One of the mysterious omissions in this fall’s “All-New, All-Different” relaunch from Marvel Comics was the absence of a new Black Panther comic, despite the character appearing on the first promo image for the relaunch. Aside from just being a truly badass character, the Black Panther, who is really the African monarch T’Challa, has major historical significance as the first major black superhero, first introduced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1966. With a significant role in next summer’s Captain America: Civil War, not to mention his own film on the way in 2018, we all knew it was only a matter of time before Marvel gave T’Challa his own series once again.
And now we finally have the details on who is going to be handling this book for Marvel: acclaimed author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates will write Marvel’s new Black Panther book starting early next year. Coates is a National Correspondent for The Atlantic, where he writes about cultural, social and political issues, especially regarding the African-American community. Coates has also written for The Village Voice, The Washington Post, Time, and many, many others. He is also known for his books The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood as well as Between the World and Me.
But all those prestigious credentials aside, it turns out that Coates is also a huge Marvel Comics nerd, and writing for Marvel was a childhood dream of his. “The Atlantic is a pretty diverse place in terms of interest, but there are no comics nerds” he said to the New York Times. “Marvel was an intimate part of my childhood and, at this point, part of my adulthood. It was mostly through pop culture, through hip-hop, through Dungeons & Dragons and comic books that I acquired much of my vocabulary.” It was after interviewing a Marvel editor last May about the company’s commitment to diversity with characters like the new Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel that Marvel reached out to Coates about writing Black Panther for them.
The new Black Panther series will start with a yearlong storyline titled “A Nation Under Our Feet,” which Coates will write and longtime comics veteran Brian Stelfreeze will illustrate. It was inspired by Steven Hahn’s 2003 book of the same name, and will feature the hero dealing with a violent uprising in his country set off by a superhuman terrorist group called the People. According to Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso, “It’s going to be a story that repositions the Black Panther in the minds of readers…It really moves him forward.”
The new Black Panther series from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze doesn’t have a release date yet, but is expected early next spring.