Ta-Nehisi Coates is not just any ol’ journalist (we should know; he was the No. 1 honoree last year on The Root 100, an annual list we put out ranking the most influential African Americans). He’s the guy who wrote “The Case for Reparations”—one of the highest-trafficking articles in the history of The Atlantic magazine.
Yep, he’s one of the leading black intellectual writers of our time, and he’s also a die-hard Marvel Comics fan. It’s that last hobby that opened the door to his new gig, and boy is it a good one: Coates will be writing the new Black Panther series that will debut next spring, the New York Times reports.
On one end, it’s a fitting pairing: Black Panther was Marvel’s first black superhero. Black Panther comes from a fictional country in Africa called Wakanda.
However, in an interview with the Times, Coates touched on the idea that some people may find this new gig odd, since he normally writes about heavy social issues facing African Americans. Coates explained that he doesn’t necessarily see his work in that manner.
“I don’t experience the stuff I write about as weighty,” Coates said. “I feel a strong need to express something. The writing usually lifts the weight. I expect to be doing the same thing for Marvel.”
The Marvel job came about pretty organically. Since Coates is a lead writer at The Atlantic, he got a chance to interview Sana Amanat, a Marvel editor, about the diversity—or lack thereof—in comic books. Amanat called their conversation “fruitful,” and some time later, Marvel reached out to Coates to begin conversations about the Black Panther series.
The new Black Panther story is called A Nation Under Our Feet, and it’ll be about Black Panther dealing with a violent uprising set off by a “superhuman terrorist group called the People,” the Times explains.
“It’s going to be a story that repositions the Black Panther in the minds of readers,” Axel Alonso, the editor-in-chief of Marvel, said. “It really moves him forward.”
Can't wait to read this one. Kudos to Ta-Nehisi Coates for this major accomplishment.
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.