Today, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso announced that Ta-Nehisi Coates will be writing an upcoming Black Panther solo series in the Spring of 2016. Coates, who is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, made a name for himself writing about issues relating to history, justice, and race in the U.S.
“It was mostly through pop culture, through hip-hop, through Dungeons & Dragons and comic books that I acquired much of my vocabulary," Coates told The New York Times.
Coates's work as a writer and his deep affinity for comics made him the ideal choice to take the king of Wakanda in an all-new direction, Marvel said in a statement to the Times.
“It’s going to be a story that repositions the Black Panther in the minds of readers,” Alonso said. “It really moves him forward.”
Up until quite recently, the Black Panther's been one of Marvel's most interesting (and also most underused) characters. When he was first introduced in issue #53 of The Fantastic Four, the Black Panther was a mysterious masked fighter guarding the land of Wakanda, a secretive, technologically-advanced African nation.
Over time, The Panther and his Vibranium-rich country have come to play pivotal roles in some of the most important events in Marvel's mainstream comic book universe. Next year, he'll make his first on-screen appearance in Captain America: Civil War before appearing in his own solo film, Marvel's first to be led by a black character, in 2018.
The Black Panther's upcoming story arc, entitled “A Nation Under Our Feet,” will focus on how the hero deals with a group of superhuman terrorists attempting to wreak havoc in his Kingdom.
Coates's heading up the Black Panther solo series reflects Marvel's decision to throw its weight behind more diverse, big name heroes. Coates's recent book, Between The World and Me, and his essay The Case for Reparations both drew critical acclaim for pushing the contemporary conversation about race in America forward.
Though his work on race is what many people will know him for, Coates says that his love for comics is what will ultimately make Black Panther stand out.
"I want to make a great comic," he told the Times. "I really, really do.”