Ta-Nehisi Coates Talks Writing New Black Panther Comics Series

Posted on May 15, 2016

Black Panther No. 2

National Book Award winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates was hired by Marvel to write the new Black Panther/King T'Challa series, which is illustrated by artist Brian Stelfreeze. To help introduce the comics to new readers -- and those who first saw the character in the film Captain America: Civil War, Coates has done a series of video talks in which he discusses how he approaches the character of Black Panther and how he fits into the Marvel universe.

The Black Panther was created by Jack Kirby in the 1960s when he said he realized he had no black characters in his comics, although he knew he had a black readership. Coates describes the character, who is king of the fictional African country Wakanda: "T'Challa's not just a scientist, he's one of the ten smartest people on the planet Earth. The nature of science is the pursuit of truth, which is in direct conflict with what kings and people who govern nations often have to do. He's a great character. I'm an old-school fan, you know? There was an interior heart to the character that I instantly connected to as soon as I started reading."

The country of Nakanda is highly advanced technologically, but has many enemies and T'Challa has had difficulty keeping his country safe. Coates explains, T'Challa's dealing with the destruction of his country at the hands of Thanos and the Black Order. He's dealing with flooding and inundation on a Biblical level, he's dealing with the loss of his sister who has been presumably killed and he left behind. The first job of the king is to protect the nation. That's the first thing, and when the king can no longer protect the nation, what is the king? All of that is weighing on him personally. Emotions are strong and are taking over, but he has a plan."

Black Panther is getting his own movie and Marvel head Kevin Feige says the cast will be 90% African American and African. The comics are very popular and fan reaction to Chadwick Boseman's portrayal of T'Challa was very positive. Lupita Nyong'o is in talks to join the project and Michael B. Jordan has already signed on. Here is Coates talking about his take on the series:

Photo: Marvel