Marvel Comics has commissioned a new Black Panther spinoff comic book series, starring King T'Challa's sister Shuri. What's more, the character appears to have been radically redesigned in order to align with the film version.
Letitia Wright's Shuri was the breakout star of Marvel's Black Panther. Marvel Studios reinvented the character as a young teenage genius, suggesting that she's actually smarter than Tony Stark or Bruce Banner. The MCU's version of Shuri is one of Wakanda's greatest scientists, cracking the secret of manipulating the energy absorbed inside Vibranium. It was Shuri who worked out how to deactivate Vibranium so it could be safely transported at speed, and it was Shuri who designed an improved Black Panther costume that could release powerful bursts of kinetic energy. Now, it seems that this movie version of Shuri is making her way into the comics, too.
Marvel Comics has announced a new Shuri comic, written by the Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor, that will launch in October this year. The decision to run a Shuri solo comic indicates just how powerful Marvel thinks her brand has become after Black Panther's success. Shuri was one of the film's most popular elements, and the solicit for Shuri #1 confirms that the comic book version is being retooled to align with the MCU's scientist.
"The world fell in love with her in the movie. Now, the Black Panther’s techno-genius sister launches her own adventures — written by best-selling Afrofuturist author Nnedi Okorafor and drawn by Eisner-nominated artist Leonardo Romero!
The Black Panther has disappeared, lost on a mission in space. And in his absence, everyone’s looking at the next in line for the throne. But Shuri is happiest in a lab, surrounded by gadgets of her own creation. She’d rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them. But a nation without a leader is a vulnerable one — and Shuri may have to choose between Wakanda’s welfare and her own."
What makes the solicit so interesting, though, is that it describes a situation that's actually fairly similar to the one Wakanda finds itself in after the tragic events of Avengers: Infinity War. Both scenarios feature a missing Black Panther, with the nation in a state of turmoil. It sounds as though the comic will see Shuri step up to take leadership of her country. A lot of fans feel she should do the same in the aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War, perhaps even becoming the new Black Panther. The two concepts are clearly linked.
In the comics, Shuri has traditionally been portrayed as a fierce warrior, jealous to earn her place as the Black Panther. She actually took over as Black Panther for a while, when her brother was left in a coma, and ultimately proved herself - even to the reluctant Panther God. Since then, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has taken Shuri in a rather more spiritual direction, granting her the ability to tap into the mystical race-memory of Wakanda. But this solicit doesn't give any hint of these character arcs. Rather than a mystical being, it speaks of a scientist who is "happiest in a lab, surrounded by gadgets of her own creation." It even refers to the idea of her testing gauntlets, a clear nod to the high-tech gauntlets Shuri wore in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. The character has been completely redesigned to align with the big-screen version. Notice that the cover even shows her arms crossed in the salute seen in Black Panther. Okorafor, for his part, is just the latest novelist to join the comic book publisher. No doubt the publisher hopes Okorafor's future will be just as bright - and so will Shuri's.