Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Marvel Comics’ New ‘Black Panther’ Series

Comic Books
Ta-Nehisi Coates will write new Black Panther
Left: The cover of Black Panther #1 drawn by Brian Stelfreeze. Right: Best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates. Images courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Like most GeekDad readers, I currently do and always have loved superheroes. As an African-American male, I also love the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates. If you are not familiar with Mr. Coates, you should definitely get to know him and his work. Coates is a New York Times best-selling author, journalist, and a National Correspondent for The Atlantic who writes about cultural and sociopolitical issues, particularly as they relate to the African-American experience. So needless to say, I was more than psyched to hear that Coates will be working with artist Brian Stelfreeze to create the new Black Panther series for Marvel Comics. I recently finished Coates’s latest book, Between the World and Me, written as a letter to his son to prepare him for the challenges of life as a Black male in the United States. When my own son is old enough, it will be required reading for him as well. If Coates can bring even half the genius he brought to his most recent work, the new Black Panther series will be more than awesome. The premise of the upcoming series is described in the press release.

The indomitable will of Wakanda–the famed African nation known for its vast wealth, advanced technology and warrior traditions–has long been reflected in the will of its monarchs, the Black Panthers. But now, the current Black Panther, T’Challa, finds that will tested by a superhuman terrorist group called The People that has sparked a violent uprising among the citizens of Wakanda. T’Challa knows the country must change to survive–the question is, will the Black Panther survive the change?

Based on Coates’s analysis of Wakanda and T’Challa, I believe we’re in for a treat.

“Wakanda is really the light of the world, in the Marvel Universe. And yet it’s a system of governance that has not advanced beyond the idea of blood-rule,” says Coates. “It’s always seemed to me that T’Challa was aware of this discrepancy. Among the monarchs of Marvel–Namor and Doctor Doom for instance–T’Challa has always been distinguished to me by his discomfort on the throne, and with the problems of one-man rule. I am very much looking forward to exploring that tension.”

Black Panther Hip-Hop variant cover by Stelfreeze, based on Jay-Z’s cover of The Black Album.

Coates teaming up with Marvel seems like a match made in heaven. Coates is a longtime Marvel Comics fan, and Marvel obviously thinks highly of his work as well. They are building this up to be something special, and I think it will be. Black Panther #1 is expected to go on sale in the spring of 2016.

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