Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Black Panther's New Writer

I'll be honest: I've never been a huge fan of T'Challa as a character. I do, though, acknowledge his importance as one of the few prominent African superheroes (I prefer my black representation in the form of Storm, when not played by Halle Berry, the obscure but wonderful Flint, or the movieverse version of Falcon) and the first true black superhero (with powers).

But Marvel has hired a new writer to pen the book - and his name's Ta-Nehisi Coates. Who, might you ask?

He's a major writer on race and the experience of being black in America. And while T'Challa isn't American...

Here's the big thing. T'Challa was a Lee and Kirby creation. His second writer was Don McGregor. He's also been written, as a solo character, by Ed Hannigan, Peter B. Gillis, Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin and Jonathan Maberry. Guess what all but one of these writers had in common? Yup. Hudlin is the only black man to previously script Black Panther, from 2005 to 2009, and he's the one responsible for the awful, stereotyped relationship between T'Challa and Storm that seemed to exist only to pair off the African royalty (I didn't realize until researching this that it wasn't some old white guy responsible for that).

But for most of the character's appearances (I haven't gone through Avengers appearances or Marvel Knights or any places where he's cameod) he's been written by a white man...and as a white person I know most of us don't get it about race. We don't get it at all.

I'm not saying a white person should never write Black Panther, but somebody who really understands the issues might do it better, and without any excuses like "It's not aimed at black people." (Really?)