UPDATE 12/16/15: Marvel has revealed the release date for what will be "Black Panther #1" as well as shared some story details that we didn’t have previously. In fact, we had no idea what the plot would be. There’s also a variant cover by Alex Ross. "Black Panther #1" (subtitled "A Nation Under Our Feet"), written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and drawn by Brian Stelfreeze, will go on sale in April 2016.
It’ll be 40 pages longs.
Marvel’s plot description: "A new era for the Black Panther starts here! Written by MacArthur Genius and National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates and illustrated by living legend Brian Stelfreeze, "A Nation Under Our Feet" is a story about dramatic upheaval in Wakanda and the Black Panther’s struggle to do right by his people as their ruler. 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 has 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?"
And here is Alex Ross’ variant cover:
Previous announcements follow below…
In September, it was announced that Ta-Nehisi Coates will be penning a Black Panther comic book issue for Marvel – news that was met with much excitement from fans of the superhero, fans of Coates (even if they weren’t fans of Black Panther), and really just about everybody else it seemed. It was the kind of announcement that was almost universally welcomed, and I assume many are thus looking forward to seeing what Coates brings to the comic book franchise.
You’ll be tickled to learn that, today, in a piece on The Atlantic titled "Conceptualizing the Black Panther," Coates shares his early ideas for the upcoming comic, including a look at illustrator Brian Stelfreeze’s art for the series, which I embedded below.
It’s a short post on The Atlantic, in which Coates discusses his process in writing comics generally, and Black Panther specifically. Here’s a little bit of it: "A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be contracted to work on Marvel’s Black Panther. I didn’t want to say too much before I got started, but now, with a few scripts in, having gotten comfortable with my editors, and having been blown away by Brian Stelfreeze’s art… I’m feeling a little better. With that in mind, my hope is, from time to time, to update you guys on the process of making the thing. I guess I should start by saying I’ve never done this before. I expect that there will be stumbles and screw-ups on my part. My nightmare basically involves this turning into some sort of stunt or vanity project. I did not take this on to look pretty, or add a line to my CV. I took it on for the same reason I take on new stories—to grow intellectually and artistically. In this case it’s another genre—fictional, serial story-telling—one a good distance away from journalism, memoir, and essays. Still I find myself falling back on old principles. I’m a writer who really values organization. I value it even more when saddled with the relatively high probability of failure. In that regard, my basic approach has been as follows:"
Read his "basic approach" on The Atlantic website here, and, below, check out some of the concept art he mentions. By the way, Brian Stelfreeze is an African American artist for those who don’t know. To be titled “A Nation Under Our Feet,” with a story by Coates and drawn by Brian Stelfreeze, the series will find Black Panther dealing with a violent uprising in his country set off by a superhuman terrorist group called the People.
Axel Alonso, the editor in chief of Marvel, says: “It’s going to be a story that repositions the Black Panther in the minds of readers… It really moves him forward.”
Coates’ Black Panther series reign will begin next spring. Comic book geeks, feel free to chime in with your thoughts on what you read and see here: