Ta-Nehisi and T’Challa

Marvel recently made the announcement that acclaimed author, journalist, and newly-minted MacArthur grant winner, Ta-Nehisi Coates, will be writing the latest edition of the Black Panther comic in 2016. I for one am very excited about this. I think that Mr. Coates is a very gifted writer. His latest article in the Atlantic is an interesting read that I highly suggest you check out.

Ta-Nehisi Coates. Image Courtesty of Columbia Journalism Review

I think that Mr. Coates is the type of writer that will re-establish the Black Panther character, or T’Challa,  as a force to be reckoned with. I honestly have not seen as effective a representation of Black Panther since Christopher Priest’s run on the character. The Black Panther in the cartoon is very powerful but still not T’Challa at his ultimate level. I think that Mr. Coates’s perspective as a journalist  will inform the character’s point of view that a typical comic writer couldn’t. Not to down comic writers (I love you Brian Michael Bendis) but it will be nice to see a writer outside of the genre tackle one of Marvel’s most prolific and oftentimes marginalized characters.

Black Panther, Marvel Knights edition. Image Courtesy of Amazon.com

I wonder with the planned Black Panther movie coming out in 2018 (it got pushed back because of Spider-Man), whether the screenwriters will take cues from the Ta-Nehisi Coates Black Panther run. I would surely hope so, but with the play-it-safe mentality of a lot of Hollywood types they may not. Oh, if only Ava Duvernay would just change her mind about directing it….

Ava Duvernay. Image Courtesy of: Indiewire.com

True Warriors

In one sense I feel like comics have gone back in terms of diversity of characters. I remember that one of my favorite comics was New Warriors. The characters debuted in Thor # 411. They were a group of teenage heroes headed up by Night Thrasher who was an African American multi-millionaire. A lot of people looked at him as just Marvel’s Black Version of Batman. If you followed along with the characters you could find that he in fact was way more than a Sepia-toned Caped Crusader.

New Warriors2
A picture of my well-worn New Warriors: Beginnings trade paperback

What really got me was that you could have a legit super-team led by a black male and he was not a stereotype—he was intelligent, well-traveled and decisive. Unfortunately in the space of the big two, Marvel and DC you don’t see that now a days. Granted, the all-new Marvel comics will debut a diverse Avengers line-up but this is still months away. I think the problem is not just to throw in diversity for diversity’s sake but to also put in very layered characters from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. That’s something that Marvel did very well with New Warriors and it’s something that they would be wise to do again.

I am curious as to your thoughts.