Though Ta-Nehisi Coates’s work on the Black Panther series will conclude this month, fans have a new Black Panther solo series from Oscar-winning writer John Ridley to look forward to. The fact the cover for the debut issue has Storm prominently appearing in the middle has made me excited!
Officially announced by The New York Times, John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) is ready to take T’Challa, Wakanda, and the Marvel Comic Book Universe in a new direction. Black Panther issue 1 will be released in August of 2021. Juann Cabal will serve as the artist.
Ridley‘s story will build from Coates’s run, taking an action-packed espionage route that’s supposed to impact not only T’Challa but the larger Marvel Comic Book Universe as a whole. The premise involves secrets from T’Challa’s past coming back to haunt him. Our lead gets an urgent message from a Wakandan secret agent and now has to race against the clock to not only save the agent but keep his true agenda under wraps.
There’s something in particular in the NYT interview that caught my interest. Ridley shared, “It’s a hybrid espionage-Super Hero thriller, but at its core, it’s a love story.”
The moment I read the words “love story”, my mind immediately went to Storm having a role to play in the current narrative. Now, Ridley did say that while romantic love is present in the series, it’s also about love between friends.
And you know what? I’m okay with that as long as Ridley plans to develop the relationship between Ororo and T’Challa. Just imagine an Oscar-winning writer handling those two and the baggage and responsibilities they carry (as the King of Wakanda and an Omega-level mutant Goddess). The potential!
If you look at the epic cover by Alex Ross, you can see Storm in the middle with T’Challa’s teammates from the Avengers on the right and Shuri and the Wakandans on the left. In my opinion, Ororo has always been a separate entity for T’Challa (and vice versa) even though she has ties with Wakanda and the Avengers. And I think that’s made quite clear on the cover.
While I have been enjoying how Coates’s been fixing Ororo and T’Challa’s relationship, I was disappointed in the senseless drama Marauders issue 13 decided to create, back in October of 2020, by having Storm temporarily steal a sacred Wakandan sword (which never existed prior to said issue) during the X of Swords event.
I wonder if Ridley will mention that particular incident. Was T’Challa not in Wakanda because he was busy helping the spy? Or will Ridley act as if it never happened and develop Ororo and T’Challa’s bond further?
Now, I get that certain readers feel that Storm shouldn’t be spending time over in the Black Panther series and that it takes away from what the X-writers can have her do in the X-Men books. However, I feel that such an assessment doesn’t make any sense.
These are fictional comic book characters more than capable of being wherever a writer wants them to be. Also, if Wolverine, Spider-Man, etc. can appear in numerous titles at once, why can’t Storm? Why does Ororo having a role in the Black Panther series mean she will need to be sidelined in the X-Men books?
Marvel Comics has been teasing “big plans” for Storm for quite a while now, with the upcoming Planet-Size X-Men issue 1, ready to be released on June 16, 2021, being the first major step in that direction. Two variant covers with Storm as the main focus have been revealed.
While I’m happy about Ororo getting the spotlight, I hope her (likely) being part of Ridley’s story isn’t used as an excuse to decrease her role in the X-Men books again. The Marauders run by Gerry Duggan was a mess as far as Storm’s minor role in the actual narrative was concerned.
“We’re coming out of a summer where we saw Black people fighting for our rights, standing up, fighting in ways that we haven’t had to do in years,” Ridley added. “And it was really important to me after the year we had where we can have these conversations with Black people and we can use words like love and caring and hope and regret and all these really fundamental emotions that everybody has.”
I am here for all of that!
Of course, I’m looking forward to reviewing Ridley’s Black Panther series.
Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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