Erik Killmonger stole the spotlight from the King of Wakanda, and Marvel has taken notice, giving the Black Panther villain a comic series all his own, beginning in December. But don't expect this origin story to pull any punches when it comes to Erik's politics, upbringing, or darker side.
The series, titled simply Killmonger will run for five issues, with Detective Comics writer Bryan Edward Hill and Green Arrow artist Juan Ferreyra bringing the challenger-to-the-throne to life. And judging by the first artwork and details offered up, it's clear that the success of the MCU take on the classic villain will be informing this new version.
Just don't call Killmonger a spinoff of the film - but Marvel doubling down on what the movie got right about a character who has tormented T'Challa for decades.
As Hill explains to Vulture, his own experience in seeing Killmonger returned to the forefront of the superhero universe as a soldier, not just a supervillain, left a mark. So when Marvel came calling about giving Killmonger a story of his own, the work of director Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan clearly didn't hurt:
What Jordan and Coogler did was motivate him in a way that’s relatable. He’s really like an aggressive evolution of militancy, and there is certainly a political motivation to his actions: the justification of extremity in the face of adversity, which is a question that you wrestle with... The aspects of Erik being a soldier in his own cause that I took away from the film were certainly important to the narrative.
Take a look at the first cover for Killmonger #1 by Juan Ferreyra below:
Fans of the Marvel movies may assume that the Killmonger comic will be lifting direct story beats from the Black Panther film, based one the waterfall fight glimpsed in the cover art. But that was initially a case of the movies being shaped by the comics (specifically Don McGregor's famed run). The Black Panther movie actually changed Killmonger from his original version in some significant ways. Ways that, as Hill points out, demonstrate the most tragic aspects of his story.
The same tragic circumstances that will shape this new series, which is good news for fans who felt that Killmonger actually challenging T'Challa wasn't a villainous scheme, just another opinion.
With Erik, I feel like it’s really a tragedy. It’s a story of a guy who was failed a lot by Wakanda in certain ways, by the people he met outside of Wakanda, by his own conscience in other ways, and I wanted to paint a portrait of that... He grew up in exile and had only his anger to nurture him. So by the time we get to the event of the waterfall [fight between Killmonger and T’Challa in Don McGregor’s run], it doesn’t read hero and villain to me as much as, the world failed. So I wanted to explore it from that context, and I wanted to explore the thoughts and the feelings of a person exiled from his homeland, from his belief system, who’s using revenge as a guiding light.
For me, that’s what a tragedy is, really. Something isn’t tragic unless you can see a way that it could have worked out better. ... It’s about a fall of a person that should have been something much better than what he wound up being, and the story is about how he winds up in that place.
That approach worked for the MCU, making Killmonger the best Marvel movie villain in the eyes of many. Hopefully, it can do the same for the comic book version. It's good news all around for fans of the movie, with Marvel using the box office success to launch new comics focused on Wakanda's Dora Milaje guards, not to mention his little sister, Shuri. Now, even the villain-- sorry, the tragic hero who gives T'Challa a seriously hard time is getting his own story told.
Killmonger #1 comes to Marvel Comics this December 2018.