I haven’t been excited over a new comic book release since high school. When Ta’Nehisi Coates took up the writing for the new Black Panther series, the excitement was back. The first issue came out a couple of days ago. We’ll see how this little experiment goes. I’m hoping the comics medium doesn’t dampen Coates’s social and cultural critiques. The storyline seems interesting so far: people and power. It’s less about superhero conflicts.
As Coates stated, “It really isn’t enough to have people punching each other and being awesome. I’m trying to tackle really basic things, even as i have all the ass-kicking awesomeness that superhero comics are known for. This story we’re telling in the first year is very much about the organization of power.”
That Coates, being one of the preeminent thinkers of race and society, is doing the Black Panther on the 50th anniversary of his debut in Fantastic Four #52–which at the time coincided with the Civil Rights movement and the political atmosphere surrounding it–is telling. Coates, it seems, doesn’t do anything without putting some thought into it. For example, the new Black Panther series is called, “A Nation Under Our Feet.” That title is taken from Steven Hahn’s Pulitzer-prize winning book of the same name that examined the political power of African-Americans from the end of the Civil War on through Reconstruction and the Great Migration.
There is obviously a lot of room to explore in Coates’s Black Panther stories. Lots of current events to drawn on. Coates have been writing about the black experiences for years now. His writing, though, has been confined to a set of realities, facts or perceptions of such. Now he gets to flex and pontificate with the fictional world of Wakanda. Fiction has always been a magnificent lens to understand reality. Think 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, V for Vendetta, etc.
What will also be interesting is to see how Coates’s Black Panther will connect with the character in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie and the stand alone Black Panther movies going forward.
However it unfolds, I am in.