Famed author Roxane Gay and poet Yona Harvey have been tapped by Marvel to write World of Wakanda, a spin-off series of its recently launched Black Panther series being written by Ta-Nehesi Coates.
Gay and Harvey, who are both new to the world of comic books, will be the first black women to work as lead writers on an ongoing Marvel series in a publisher's history, something that fans have been calling for in recent months as the company has prioritized a more diverse selection of characters.
Gay and Harvey's first arc will follow Ayo and Aneka, two lovers who were first introduced in Coates' story as members of the Black Panther's elite squad of potential brides who also serve as his body guards. When the pair realize that their country has plunged into chaos in their king's absence, they don high-tech suits of their own and set out to liberate people throughout Wakanda who are being taken advantage of by warlords.
“It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done, and I mean that in the best possible way,” Gay told The New York Times. “The opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe, there’s no saying no to that.”
World Of Wakanda's announcement comes directly on the heels of Marvel revealing that the next Iron Man would be a 15-year-old black girl named Riri Williams who comes across an old version of Tony Stark's armor and reverse-engineers a better suit than Stark ever could. While fans were excited at the prospect of a new series being headlined by a black, female lead, there were also concerns that her story was being written by a white man.
Coates, who will hand off Ayo and Aneka's story to Gay and Harvey, acknowledged that some fans might find it difficult to accept the idea that black women were underrepresented in the comics industry, but insisted that the problem was present and important to deal with.
"We have to open the door,” Coates told The Times. “It’s not, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if there are more women writers, more women creators in comics?’ That would be nice, but in many ways, it is kind of an imperative.”