The storyline is inspired by Steven Hahn’s 2003 book of the same title, and “will find the hero dealing with a violent uprising in his country set off by a superhuman terrorist group called the People,” The New York Times reports.
Coates, a Marvel superfan, told the Times that the Marvel universe was “an intimate part” of both his childhood and adulthood.
“It was mostly through pop culture, through hip-hop, through Dungeons & Dragons and comic books that I acquired much of my vocabulary,” Coates said.
Here’s a look at the cover art of the first issue of Black Panther, courtesy of Marvel:
Coates is one of the most provocative writers about the African-American experience and America’s long history with racism. He’s a national correspondent at The Atlantic, National Book Award nominee, and author of “Between The World And Me.”
“How often do you find a literary voice as singular and powerful as Ta-Nehisi Coates, who also happens to be a hardcore fan of the Marvel mythology?” Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso told The Huffington Post about the announcement. “Through comic books’ first and greatest black super hero, and the fictional kingdom over which he presides, Ta-Nehisi will shed unique insight into the world in which we live.”
“It’s going to be a story that re-positions the Black Panther in the minds of readers,” Alonso said. “It really moves him forward.”
Black Panther, whose real name is T’Challa, is the first black superhero created by Marvel in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Coates said he began reading comics in the mid-1980s and was most fascinated by three minority characters: Storm, the leader of the X-Men; Monica Rambeau, who had taken on the name Captain Marvel; and James Rhodes, who was Iron Man.
“They were obviously black,” he recalled. “I’m sure it meant something to see people who looked like me in comic books. It was this beautiful place that I felt pop culture should look like.”
Diversity in characters and creators is something the comic book industry is increasingly trying to embrace, and while any great comic begins with the quality of the story, Mr. Alonso said, “Showing different faces under the masks is very important for everyone.”