Beyonce dropped Formation. Melissa Harris-Perry dropped the mic on MSNBC at the stroke of fuck-this-shit o’clock. Kendrick Lamar dropped an ambush album after literally setting the stage on fire while krump dancing in pan-African colors at the Grammys, and the entirety of Chicago raised their wands to the sky and vanquished the Dark Mark left by Donald Trump like Hogwarts standing up to Voldemort. Let’s face it: all we need now is reparations, a Tribe Called Quest reunion and Neil Degrasse Tyson for President and it’s basically assured that we’ll achieve peak blackness before summer.
In comes National Book Award winning correspondent for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between The World And Me, dropping a Black Panther comic book.
Honestly, I could stop right there and you could get the gist of how big this is for blerd fandom, but my editor would kick my door down and hit me with some form of pro wrestling move for handing in a seven-sentence submission, so I’ll continue. It’s been a solid four years since we got a Black Panther solo comic. The Marvel Universe has seen world ending incursions, a Black Captain America, the Red Skull turning good guys evil with Charles Xavier’s brain and a Howard the Duck solo comic (you read that right), but nothing for Marvel’s first Black superhero, king of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda.
Fortunately, at a time when a savvy, progressive audience is thirsty for quality representation for people of color, Coates has teamed up with artist, Brian Stelfreeze for an 11-issue series that follows King T’Challa as he wrestles with serving the best interests of his people while Wakanda experiences a violent upheaval. In his recent behind the scenes write up for The Atlantic (where he shows off some particularly awesome preview pages from the first issue), Coates mentions the story pulling not only from the character’s often overlooked rich history with Marvel, but “from the very real history of society,” hinting towards societal uprisings of pre-colonial Africa and even those of recent years such as the Arab Spring.
The MacArthur Genius grant recipient teases towards the sort of thing Black Panther fans have waited on for years. Given the Panther’s complicated history with his throne and his people, often alluded to most recently in Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers series, it seems like a well timed opportunity to ponder what should become of a nation that has spend so much time on the cutting edge of societal advancement and why that nation clings to the antiquated notion of a monarchy. Coates claims his upcoming tenure on Black Panther ponders: “Can a good man be a king and would an advanced society tolerate a monarch?” A premise like this is a shrewd way of breaking new ground while still honoring 50 years of the character’s mythology. In preparation for T’Challa’s (played by Chadwick Boseman) debut in Captain America: Civil War, the series appears to be the book newcomers need but also the one longtime fans deserve.
Coates and Stelfreeze’s Black Panther series hits stores April 6, 2016.