Ta-Nehisi Coates is best known as an acclaimed journalist and nonfiction author who’s written for The Atlantic, Time and more. He was just nominated for the National Book Award for his new book Between the World and Me, and his writings on race relations and American culture are indispensible. He also happens to be a huge comic book nerd.
Today, it was announced by The New York Times that Coates’ writing brilliance and his comic book fandom will come together in a new Black Panther series for Marvel Comics, drawn by Brian Stelfreeze. The series will kick off next spring, and feature a yearlong storyline in which the Black Panther, T'Challa, has to battle a terrorist insurgence in his home nation of Wakanda.
“It’s going to be a story that repositions the Black Panther in the minds of readers,” Marvel editor in chief Axel Alonso said. “It really moves him forward.”
You may not realize it now, but this is huge. Coates is one of the most prominent black voices in American culture right now, and Marvel enlisting him to write a comic about their most prominent black hero is a major statement in terms of injecting diversity into the comics industry. Fans have been clamoring for years for a more diverse lineup of comic book creators, and though this is only one step, Marvel hiring Coates is a big leap.