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Black Panther & The Crew #1

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates
Penciler Butch Guice
Published by Marvel Comics

In a month where Marvel VP David Gabriel has said that diversity won’t sell comics, it makes sense to prove them wrong. This week, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates adds a third book to the Black Panther line, and it’s his best yet. Man, I hope this sells. It’s worth it.

Black Panther’s main title has been a slow burn political book about the African nation of Wakanda, and the World Of Wakanda spinoff has given more of a personal focus on a romance story. This week, Black Panther and several other notable black superheroes unite in Harlem as The Crew for a more traditional street-level book with a keen ear for social justice.

Misty Knight narrates this first issue as she navigates the charged investigation of a longtime activist who died in a cell under, of course, mysterious circumstances. It’s a perfect choice. Besides being one of the most charismatic characters in Marvel’s lineup, Misty is a black cop who can deeply sympathize with both sides of the tension between Harlem’s citizens and their police force. She can reasonably look at the issue without losing the essence of herself.

The team hasn’t come together by the end of this issue, and Black Panther isn’t even in it, but your superhero itch will be scratched by flashbacks to a morally grey super team from Harlem’s past and by a surprise reveal at the end.

Diversity is not the only selling point for this book. It’s a high-quality product, blending textual and visual storytelling at a level Coates hasn’t delivered until now. It’s an easily accessible jumping-on issue with plenty of Easter Eggs for veteran Marvel readers. And it’s got some of Marvel’s best characters. But it is also unapologetically talking about the racial tension that is killing Americans. And if Marvel thinks that we don’t need to be reading this, they’re wrong.

Prove David Gabriel wrong. Prove him wrong by putting your money toward a well-crafted example of a great comic story that initimately explores diversity. Ultimate Comics is happy to help you do that at any of our three Triangle locations, and our staff will also gladly direct you to plenty of other great comics to showcase the breadth of representation. And let’s keep this talk going in Greensboro this September.

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics