Marvel Announces New 'Black Panther' Comic Book Series to Be Written By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Black Panther Kirby - H 2015
Jack Kirby/Marvel Entertainment
The Atlantic columnist will write a yearlong storyline for the series.

After months of speculation, Marvel Entertainment has finally officially announced the launch of a new Black Panther comic book series — with none other than Ta-Nehisi Coates onboard as the writer for the book's first storyline.

Coates, currently the national correspondent for The Atlantic and author of the critically acclaimed memoir Between the World and Me, told The New York Times that Marvel was "an intimate part of my childhood and, at this point, part of my adulthood," citing characters such as Storm, Monica Rambeau and James Rhodes (aka War Machine) as important childhood influences.

"I'm sure it meant something to see people who looked like me in comic books," he said. "It was this beautiful place that I felt pop culture should look like."

Coates' Black Panther storyline, "A Nation Under Our Feet," will see T'Challa, the Black Panther, face an uprising in his kingdom of Wakanda created by a superhuman terrorist organization called the People. Artist Brian Stelfreeze will handle illustration chores for the storyline.

A winner of the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, Coates is known as one of the leading American writers on race, with lauded pieces including September 2012's "Fear of a Black President" and June 2014's "The Case for Reparations" (both for The Atlantic). His work has also appeared in the Washington Post and The New York Times, and he is currently working as the City University of New York's journalist-in-residence and developing a television project on the U.S. civil rights movement for HBO with David Simon.

Marvel's announcement follows concern from many fans over the lack of diversity in Marvel's forthcoming All-New, All-Different Marvel publishing relaunch, in terms of both race and sexual identity. Black Panther will become Marvel's fourth solo title featuring a black lead, following Sam Wilson, Captain America, the Miles Morales Spider-Man and new Blade series. Additionally, the Devil Dinosaur & Moon Girl series features an African-American co-lead, and the company's new Totally Awesome Hulk is Korean-American.

Black Panther will launch in 2016, close to the character's movie debut in next year's Captain America: Civil War. A stand-alone Black Panther movie will follow in 2018.

Ava DuVernay, who was in talks with Marvel Studios to direct the Black Panther movie before deciding against the idea, shared her feelings on the news of Coates' hiring via Twitter: