Black Panther Politics


Marvel Comics

The biggest development in Black Panther #1, the newly relaunched series featuring Marvel Comics' first black superhero, wasn't anything inside the issue, but the name on the cover: Ta-Nehisi Coates, a writer and blogger for The Atlantic who recently won a MacArthur "genius grant."

Coates is a devout fan of superhero comics: Even before landing the Black Panther gig, he could often be found ruminating on comic book lore on Twitter. As a journalist his writing has often focused on nationhood, race, and identity. The combination makes him a strong fit for Black Panther, a superpowered costumed hero who is also the king of a highly developed fictional African nation, Wakanda.

Coates' first issue, which sold out a print run of 300,000 (a huge success for the current comics market), doesn't provide many hints as to where he'll take the story, but it sets a moody, reflective tone, and makes clear he'll lean on both decades of comic book history and weighty political themes.