Marvel Comics has canceled its Black Lives Matter-inspired comic book Black Panther & The Crew due to poor sales, according to reports.
The comic book — written by activist author Ta-Nehisi Coates — was canceled after only two issues but is expected to finish out the remainder of its six-issue run, The Verge reported.
The comic features a group of majority-black superheroes including Black Panther, Misty Knight, Luke Cage and Storm — the only white person in the “crew” is Kung Fu hero Iron Fist — and their investigation into the case of a black civil rights activist who died in police custody in New York City’s famed Harlem neighborhood.
The story is set in a New York City patrolled by robot police officers instead of human officials, but much of the plot appears to derive thematically from the Black Lives Matter playbook, with cops beating up minorities for little to no reason and groups of local citizens on the verge of riots over it all.
Coates assured fans that with its last few issues, the comic’s storyline would be wrapped up and the mystery of who killed the civil rights activist would be solved.
Naturally, the liberal comics community is upset that Marvel has canceled the Black Lives Matter-centric title. Gawker site Gizmodo complained that Marvel spent no resources advertising or pushing the comic on fans. The site also proclaimed the cancellation “keenly disappointing.”
The cancellation of Black Panther & The Crew comes shortly after a Marvel executive noted during an industry event that comics focused specifically on featuring diverse characters are not selling well.
Speaking at a Marvel retailer summit at the end of March, David Gabriel, Marvel’s vice president of sales, said the company had heard that customers “didn’t want” any more diverse characters.
“I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales,” Gabriel said. “Any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up.”
The executive made his comments based on recent sales figures but later tried to roll it back after a backlash in the liberal comic book community slammed him as racist. Gabriel later noted that Marvel is still “proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel universe and pair them with our iconic heroes.”
The cancellation also comes ahead of Marvel’s next big-screen adaptation of the Black Panther character. Actor Chadwick Boseman will play the character in Marvel’s Black Panther, due out in February 2018.
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