The more famous Marvel Comics characters - Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk - have all been having their day in the sun, but now the spotlight has begun to shift to more obscure Marvel Comics heroes that are beginning to make their names in feature films, like Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). The latter superhero will have a key role in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, where he will be taking the side of Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.).
Black Panther, whose real name is T’Challa, was the first black comic book hero in the mainstream books. His debut back in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966) was a landmark moment in comics. It has taken many decades for the hero to finally be featured in a major motion picture, and along with that he is getting a brand new rebooted comic book series from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Coates is also known for his correspondent work for The Atlantic and as a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Fellows program. The writer is perhaps best known for his personal memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, in which he details his life growing up in West Baltimore and his relationship with his father, who was a real-life former Black Panther. Check out a preview of Coates' Black Panther #1 comic below:
And some alternate covers
The new take on this decades old hero will center around his efforts to fairly rule and care for his fictional homeland of Wakanda, according to the official press release:
The indomitable will of Wakanda -- the famed African nation known for its vast wealth, advanced technology and warrior traditions -- has long been reflected in the will of its monarchs, the Black Panthers. But now, the current Black Panther, T’Challa, finds that will tested by a superhuman terrorist group called The People that have sparked a violent uprising among the citizens of Wakanda. T’Challa knows the country must change to survive -- the question is: will the Black Panther survive the change?<
Exclusively revealing with The Atlantic, Coates proposes a simple question that fueled his script for BLACK PANTHER, “Can a good man be a king, and would an advanced society tolerate a monarch? Research is crucial in both cases. The Black Panther I offer pulls from the archives of Marvel and the character’s own long history. But it also pulls from the very real history of society—from the pre-colonial era of Africa, the peasant rebellions that wracked Europe toward the end of the Middle Ages, the American Civil War, the Arab Spring, and the rise of ISIS.”
“For centuries, Wakanda has been sending would-be conquerors home in body bags. Now, it is about to face its biggest threat — and it comes from within,” says Marvel Comics Editor In Chief, Axel Alonso. “Under Ta-Nehisi’s unflinching gaze, the Black Panther will grapple with a threat that can’t simply be beaten into submission, one that raises questions about life, liberty and honor that are especially relevant today.”
Black Panther is one of the many superheroes created by Marvel Comics guru Stan Lee. His initial look was even developed by the legendary Jack Kirby. His name, while later associated with the Black Panther Party, actually pre-dates them by four years. The Black Panther name is actually the ceremonial title given to the leader of the Panther Tribe of the fictional Wakanda.
The Black Panther character, while he has yet to debut in feature film until later this year, has been a part of several Marvel Comics themed animated series. His appearances include spots on 1990s cartoons like Fantastic Four, X-Men and Avengers: United They Stand, as well as modern series like Iron Man: Armored Adventures, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Avengers Assemble.
Black Panther #1 hits comic book stores on April 6, 2016.