The Marvel Comics superhero Black Panther is getting a new series and a new creative team in August. It will be written by the Oscar winning screenwriter John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”), and drawn by Juann Cabal. (The current Black Panther series, which began in 2016 and has been written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, will conclude on May 26.)
Black Panther, created in 1966, is the first Black superhero in mainstream comics and hails from Wakanda, a fictional African country, where he is known as T’Challa and serves as king. Ridley said he is eager for the chance to write the hero. “First of all, Black Panther is just a great character in and of himself,” he said in a telephone interview. “But being a young Black kid growing up, every time you saw a hero that looked like you, even if their background didn’t reflect my lived experience, it was just something that made you feel closer to the wish fulfillment that is intrinsic in graphic novel writing.”
In the new story, Black Panther receives an urgent message from a Wakandan operative who is in danger. “It’s a hybrid espionage-superhero thriller, but at its core, it’s a love story,” Ridley said. “And I don’t mean just romantic love, although there’s some of that as well. It’s love between friends.”
He said he thought about his closest childhood friends “and the ways that we ran together and how our lives changed over time.”
He said he also wanted to reflect upon the last year. “We’re coming out of a summer where we saw Black people fighting for our rights, standing up, fighting in ways that we haven’t had to do in years,” he said. “And it was really important to me after the year we had where we can have these conversations with Black people and we can use words like love and caring and hope and regret and all these really fundamental emotions that everybody has.”
News of the new series was first reported by Bleeding Cool, a comic book site. Issue No. 1 of the new series will have a cover by Alex Ross.