While the nerd world’s collective attention was focused on the debut of the re-re-booted Spider-Man in the new Captain America: Civil War trailer, there were also promising early signs from another forthcoming Marvel project on Friday. The comic publisher released the first images from award-winning author and journalist Ta-Nahisi Coates’s 11-issue series of Black Panther, and even if you can’t find the Panther’s homeland of Wakanda on a map (it’s not real, so there’s one good reason), the preview is enough to start get excited for the first issue when it drops on April 6. Artist Brian Stelfreeze’s panels show a bold, bright vision for the character, and the nod to Jay-Z’s Black Album on one of the several covers of the first issue shows Marvel isn’t just banking on die-hard comic fans either.
The Panther, also known as Wakanda’s scientist-warrior-king T’Challa, became a Marvel fan favorite upon his first appearance in a 1966 issue of Fantastic Four, and is primed for a splashy 50th anniversary this year with a prominent supporting role in Civil War (played by Chadwick Boseman), to be followed by his own Ryan Coogler-directed feature in 2018. The company has teased little about Coates’s take on the Panther, simply noting in a statement that the hero will be fighting a threat from within Wakanda’s borders. But the Baltimore-born writer of last year’s acclaimed Between the World and Me will likely help set the tone for everything that comes after, and he sounds eager to use the medium to grapple with larger philosophical and societal issues in true Marvel style.
“In my work for The Atlantic I have, for some time, been asking a particular question: Can a society part with, and triumph over, the very plunder that made it possible?,” he told The Atlantic. “In Black Panther, there is a simpler question: Can a good man be a king, and would an advanced society tolerate a monarch?”
Marinate on that, then we can decide if Spider-Man should be able to blink in his costume.