While Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run on Marvel’s Black Panther solo comic may be coming to an end just as the writer turns his sights to the future of DC’s Superman, the Wakandan King’s story is anything but over.
As is the case with all iconic superheroes whose comic books gave rise to multimillion-dollar film cinematic franchises, T’Challa’s story must go on. Following Coates’ Marvel exit, Other History of the DC Universe scribe John Ridley and artist Juann Cabal (Guardians of the Galaxy, All-New Wolverine, Electra) are slated to pick up the torch with Black Panther #1. In an interview with the New York Times, Ridley described his upcoming story as a “hybrid espionage-superhero thriller” with a romantic component, suggesting that the new comic might address how the X of Swords event further complicated T’Challa and Storm’s tumultuous relationship.
The new arc will kick into gear with T’Challa looking into a situation involving an imperiled Wakandan operating beyond the country’s borders, something that gives the superpowered king a reason to spring into action. But Ridley also emphasised how, given the ongoing protests and calls-to-action against systemic, anti-Black racism, it was important to him that his Black Panther centre ideas about love as well as regret. “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,” Ridley 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.”
What’s going to be especially interesting to pay attention to as Ridley and Cabal’s Black Panther takes shape is what, if any, echoing there is between the comic and whatever Marvel has in store for the Black Panther’s larger brand that extends beyond the comics. Marvel’s comics branch and its cinematic division seldom work very closely to get their stories in sync with one another, but with film sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Disney+’s Wakanda series both on the horizon, it’s probably going to be worth keeping an eye on the new comic when the new #1 launches this August.