Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief on Black Panther, superheroes of color

Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief on Black Panther, superheroes of color

Axel Alonso is the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics. His editorial team recruited Ta-Nehisi Coates to write the latest Black Panther series.; Credit: Photo Courtesy of Marvel Comics

April 6th is a date that’s been on the minds of comic book fans for a while now - it’s the day that Marvel Comics releases the new Black Panther comic book.

The series is entitled “A Nation Under Our Feet.” It’s written by Ta-Nehesi Coates, who has gained major recognition for his work in The Atlantic and books about being Black in America.

“It just so happened that we were going through a process where we were putting together a bunch of new series, including The Black Panther,” said Axel Alonso, Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics said to Take Two’s A Martinez.

Alonso says that it was easy to pitch Coates on the project since he has always been an avid comic book reader. “We asked him if he’d have any interest and of course he did. It was as simple as that.”

The response to Coates’ involvement with the project has been, for the most part, positive, but not totally, says Alonso. “When you see Ta-Nehesi and his body of work and you see him attached to a book called Black Panther , it goes without saying that it’s going to create excitement, as well as controversy,” he says. “But [Ta-Nehesi] wants this to be judged once people have read it. Until people have seen what’s actually on the page, it’s just an announcement.”

As a publishing company, Marvel has made more of a push to feature a cast of diverse super-heroes. “Marvel comics are always at their best when they reflect the world outside your window,” Alonso said.

“My editorial staff is incredibly diverse … and we yearn to see heroes for ourselves and our children that they can relate to. When Miles Morales [the new Spider-Man who is biracial] peels back that Spider-Man mask to reveal a different face, it’s a huge invitation to a number of people to pick up comics and see themselves reflected there.”

Issue number one of Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet is in stores now If your local comic shop is all out of copies, click here to download a digital version from Marvel.

And to hear more about our thoughts on Black Panther in the context of other Black characters throughout the history of comics, click here for our interview with Frances Gateward, associate professor at CSUN and historian of Black comic book characters.