Author Ta-Nehisi Coates has written some controversial pieces for the Atlantic, including one defending reparations for slavery and another arguing the public shift on the Trayvon Martin case was based on opposition to President Obama. Next year, Coates will become a different kind of author when takes on a year-long story about Black Panther, the first mainstream black superhero, for Marvel comics.
Coates told the New York Times writing for Marvel was a childhood dream come true. He has long been a fan of comics and specifically of Marvel comics. In an interview published earlier this year, he told Vulture he first became interested in Spider-Man and the X-Men during the mid-80s. He turned his attention to rap for about a decade during high school and college but eventually returned to comics. He has written about his appreciation for the diversity in comics versus Hollywood.
The connection to Marvel entertainment came this May when Coates interviewed Marvel editor Sana Amanat for the New York Ideas seminar. Afterwards, Marvel extended an invitation to Coates, who began working with a Marvel editor on ideas. The result is the year long series titled A Nation Under Our Feet based on the book of the same name.
The story will involve an uprising in the fictional African nation of Wakanda. “Wakanda is really the light of the world, in the Marvel Universe. And yet it’s a system of governance that has not advanced beyond the idea of blood-rule,” Coates says, adding “It’s always seemed to me that T’Challa was aware of this discrepancy.” Will Moss, the editor of the new series, says, “This story will have all the political intrigue of the best episodes of THE WEST WING and HOMELAND, but it’s also going to have the trademark Marvel action and energy that Stan Lee & Jack Kirby built into the foundation of the Marvel Universe.”
The acquisition of Coates as a writer is a coup for Marvel. His most recent book, Between the World and Me, was roundly praised and has been nominated for a National Book Award. His features for the Atlantic, while often politically controversial, have been praised for their writing style.
The character Black Panther made his first appearance in issue #52 of the Fantastic Four back in 1966. He was introduced as the ruler of Wakanda but would later move to New York and join the superhero group The Avengers starting in 1968.
The fictional nation of Wakanda was mentioned in this year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron film. It was the source of a rare metal which makes up Captain America’s shield. The first live-action appearance of Black Panther is scheduled for next May in the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War, and Marvel has already announced a solo Black Panther film is scheduled to be released in 2017.
Marvel distributed this image of the cover of the first issue of the new series.