Last night, my boyfriend and I walked into our neighborhood comic book store (shout out to Alliance Comics) with seven minutes until close. We’d been there a few weeks prior to pick up the hip hop variant cover of Deadpool, which is our new coffee table book. Yesterday’s trip was a much more targeted strike– this time, it was Black Panther release day. I can’t possibly tell you how cool I felt opening it on the train, y’all.
For those unfamiliar with Marvel’s Black Panther, he’s the preeminent black superhero. Bar none. He’s not a new character, so check out the short-lived television series that featured voices such as Jill Scott, Alfre Woodard, Kerry Washington, and Djimon Hounsou. Yet another character created in part by Stan Lee, he made his first appearance in the 1960s, which is no small statement. Get to know the character now, because he’ll show up in the newest Captain America: Civil War film, which will lead up to his feature film in 2018.
After a couple years of unparalleled success, you’re undoubtedly familiar with The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, who is the lead writer for this iteration of the series. Unsurprisingly, Coates is able to use current events to bring the Black Panther some degree of modern relevance.
Titled “A Nation Under Our Feet,” he and illustrator Brian Stelfreeze evoke imagery of political struggle originating in Steven Hahn’s Pulitzer-prize winning piece of the same name. While this first issue largely serves to set up the story for future editions, it still gives a glimpse of the struggle to come. For a primer, I’d recommend WIRED magazine’s write up of their interview with Coates. Lots of great insight on his motivations for writing Black Panther.
Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never read comics, or if (like me), you’re more of an occasional reader. Black Panther is written and drawn for mass appeal, featuring graphics that are striking but easy to follow, and a wealth of background information throughout. There an incredible amount of attention to detail, which shows in things like the women’s athletic– in contrast to the obscenely busty– bodies (read more on that here), and the questions Coates poses about a monarchy’s obligation to its people.
Pick this up now– don’t wait on Amazon, which won’t be shipping until the bound copies are out in September. Waiting until the fall means you’ll miss out on the interactivity of tweeting and emailing with Coates and fellow Black Panther readers, which adds to the experience. Instead, support small businesses and ask for them at your local comic book stores.
I love superheroes because they constantly question the role and responsibility of the individual, and the obligation of a citizen to their world or country. It’s a great question that each superhero seems to address differently. Have you EVER been into comics books, or are you more into the films? Let me know who your favorite super hero is in the comments below! Clearly, y’all know mine. 😉