Every few years or so, a writer manages to take some of their thoughts on black identity, put them to paper and kickstart the collective consciousness of people far and wide. The latest example of this would likely be Between the World and Me (2015) by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic who often speaks on the black experience in ways no one else could.
Many wondered what Coates’ next offering would be. Would it be another dissection of the multiple personalities a black person has to juggle in America? Would it be an article making a case for reparations? No. It would be something glorious that came completely out of left field.
Ta-Nehisi Coates was recently tapped by Marvel Comics to write their latest Black Panther comic book series. Black nerds, myself included, were ecstatic.
For the uninformed, Black Panther is a comic book character that was first introduced in 1966 – a few months before the revolutionary party of the same name. T’Challa, the character’s given name, is the king of the fictional African country of Wakanda, which is the most technologically advanced country in the known world and sits atop an enormous supply of the rarest mineral on earth.
He has a wealth and intelligence that rivals (or arguably exceeds) Tony Stark’s. He’s able to manage ruling over a kingdom and also defending it while dressed in all black and channeling the power of a panther deity. Over time, he’s become the go-to black superhero for many. So much so, that he appears to be heavily featured in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and is getting his own standalone film in 2018, which will be directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed and Fruitvale Station) and star Chadwick Boseman (Get on Up and 42) as T’Challa.
Marvel has been building up anticipation for Coates’ series for months leading up to today’s release of the #1 issue. Every comic book is someone’s first comic book and I have friends that have never stepped foot inside of a comic book store that have asked me how they can get a copy.
After reading through it twice, both digitally and on paper, it’s refreshing to see this story being given to a literary pillar of black thought like Coates, who has admittedly never actually written a comic book before.
The anticipation was well worth the wait and the first few pages are all the introduction anyone truly needs. But the seeds that have been planted for future developments with other characters actually makes me even more excited than anything, including a pair of deadly female assassins with reason to hold a grudge.
For many, this series will be their first introduction to an amazing character. They now have a chance to find out for themselves instead of having to trust the words of fans on the Internet.