In its continued efforts to better represent diversity in America, Marvel has landed some a huge writing talent. According to The New York Times, The Atlantic national correspondent and National Book Award nominee Ta-Nehisi Coates is now officially a comics writer, and is set to write an upcoming Black Panther series starting next spring.
Coates being tapped to pen Black Panther is a massive deal that cannot be understated. His output dissecting and lamenting the state of racism in America is considered essential. Meanwhile, his recently published book Between the World and Me, a powerful letter to his son about the harsh realities facing Black people today, earned him a seat next to preeminent social critic James Baldwin in the eyes of many critics.
On top of all of this, Coates also happens to be a comics nerd, so using his words to write a superhero comic is likely a chance he could not pass up. "I feel a strong need to express something," he told the Times. The writing usually lifts the weight. I expect to be doing the same thing for Marvel."(TL;DR: This is insanely important, and is, to my mind, one of the single biggest moves in comics to date.)
The year of Black Panther
Coates, backed by artist Brian Stelfreeze, is now writing a yearlong arc for Black Panther called "Nation Under Our Feet." The story, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration, will involve the hero dealing with a violent uprising in Wakanda, Black Panther's home country. The timing couldn't be better; Black Panther is also set to make his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil Warnext May.
Superhero comics in general have made major strides this year to highlight diverse voices and characters for diverse audiences. Major events like Convergence and Secret Wars have brought changes to the status quo at Marvel and DC, allowing characters like Cyborg and Jane Foster to take center stage. It's such an exciting time to be a nerd.