Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leonard Kirk, and Margaret Stohl tease what's next for their heroes
This fall will see the launch of Marvel Legacy, a new initiative by the comic publisher to return many of its most famous characters to core principles — and, along with it, the comics’ original numbering. Marvel has gone through a few different initiatives in recent years that relaunched series with new number-one issues — Marvel NOW! in 2012, with All-New All-Different Marvel following a couple years later in the wake of Secret Wars. But this new numbering will tie Marvel’s books back to its predecessors and the long-running history of Marvel.
Legacy will also see the Marvel heroes return to their roots after recent years have seen some major experimentation with the status quo — Peter Parker became a tech billionaire, Steve Rogers became a Hydra agent, and so on. Legacy, by contrast, will see heroes like Spider-Man go back to what they do best, while still looking ahead to the future.
For our second Legacy post of the day, EW can exclusively reveal two more covers from the initiative: Black Panther #166 and Captain Marvel #125. Both series revert to their original numbering with these October issues. Black Panther’s Legacy story line will bring him face-to-face with his old archenemy Klaw, while Captain Marvel will focus on unraveling her long, convoluted origin story.
EW talked to Black Panther writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, Black Panther artist Leonard Kirk, and Captain Marvel writer Margaret Stohl about what fans can expect from these characters under Legacy. Look for both issues to hit stands this October, and keep your eyes peeled for both the Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies coming down the pipeline.
Black Panther #166, Ta-Nehisi Coates (writer), Leonard Kirk (artist), Brian Stelfreeze (cover artist), “Klaw Stands Supreme”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I love how your initial three-part “A Nation Under Our Feet” arc forced Black Panther to question his own status quo and confront ideas about monarchy, revolution, and history. How will those themes continue under Legacy?
TA-NEHISI COATES: One of the cool things about my Marvel work is they don’t smush you into crossovers. They don’t say, “this is what’s happening so you have to do X, Y, and Z.” They’ve been very open with my work on Black Panther. But history has always been a part of the comic book. I love continuity, I love past Black Panther stuff, I love bringing in history. I think already in the next issue that’s about to come out, you’ll see past characters return. The climax of last “season” had all these former Black Panthers who come aid the country in fighting the rebellion. So it’s not a huge stretch for me to reach back and place him in the context of Legacy in terms of Wakanda. I don’t think it’s as big a deal for Black Panther, because he was already there. I think in the one-shot that Jason Aaron is gonna do, you’ll see explicit stuff about what’s coming and some possible events we’re talking about. Future stuff is gonna be hinted at. There’s a lot of small things that are happening in Wakanda that are connected to a bigger thing that is gonna get teased out in Jason’s story.
You are very open about acknowledging your predecessors on Black Panther, like Christopher Priest and Don McGregor. Given that Legacy is reverting to original numbering and keying everything back to Marvel continuity, how do those creators’ legacies continue to inform your take on the character?
Well, you gotta go back to it. This is the coolest part of comic books, there’s so much juice in all of that work. I just try to absorb as much as I can. It’s very natural for me. Somebody like Christopher Priest is not very hard, because when I was 10 years old, I was reading the stuff he was writing and even editing on Spider-Man. I had that familiarity. Don’s stuff I had to pick up a little later, Reggie Hudlin’s stuff also. But it’s not hard. I love going back through old comic books. It’s one of the cool things about the form. It’s not like TV where there’s just a certain amount of episodes. Even a character like Black Panther who only has 150-some issues, there’s so much to go back through. That to me is the exciting part, both as a fan and writer.
Sometimes new readers seem afraid or intimidated by the wealth of history, but the fun of comics comes from just jumping in and figuring out what you don’t know and what you need to go find out yourself to fill in the blanks.
Yeah, you gotta allow yourself to be dumb. People want to feel smart and they want to feel like they know what’s going on, but comics don’t reward that. They reward people who have the willingness to just go in and go, “Okay, let me figure out where this is going.”
Black Panther was your first comic, and since then, you’ve already spun off into other series like Black Panther and The Crew. What have you learned about the form since starting out?
Just how much of a visual art it is. When I came in I was aware of it, but to be aware of something is different than actually practicing. Someone can theoretically describe how to shoot a jump shot, but reciting that to yourself doesn’t make you a great jump-shooter. The consistency of trying to apply the principle over and over again is how you learn. There’s no theoretical way to learn. No one can just keep telling you, “This is about the visual, not the words.” You have to consistently try it over and over again. The further I get into writing scripts, the ratio of words that are written to address the artist vs. words written that are actually gonna be in dialogue has grown. There is much more to say to the artist. I hope I can continue going that path. A writer like [Brian Michael] Bendis is great at communicating with a head nod, or an expression. If you read his classic stuff, there’ll be whole pages with no dialogue, but they communicate. It’s not easy to learn to do that.
The first Legacy issue teases a fight with Klaw. Since he’s also going to be the nemesis in the upcoming movie, what would you say Klaw means to Black Panther?
I mean, how many of these stories are about, you killed my dad? Or my mom died, or my Uncle Ben died. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Black Panther — so many of these stories are about being an orphan. Klaw is responsible for Black Panther being an orphan, so there’s considerable animosity there.
Leonard, Black Panther lives in one of the most unique countries in all of superhero comics. What are you most looking forward to about approaching Wakanda?
LEONARD KIRK: I have really appreciated how much attention to detail Ta-Nehisi and artists Brian Stelfreeze and Chris Sprouse have paid to Wakanda and the surrounding nations in this series. But I love the blending of the futuristic and technological with the natural. It’s something that is often missing from more typical settings in western comics. There is also a much stronger and more personal connection between T’Challa and Wakanda than most heroes with their homelands. I like the idea of the location serving as much as a character as the actual characters of the story.
Captain Marvel #125, Margaret Stohl (writer), Michele Bandini (artist), “Dark Origin”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Carol has one of the most convoluted backstories in all of Marvel. How will the events of “Dark Origin” make sense of her complicated history?
MARGARET STOHL: Whose coming-of-age story isn’t set in a Negative Zone is one way or another? I know mine certainly was! The heart of Carol’s origin story is her family, and it’s so much simpler and so much bigger than the pieces that have been told before. “Dark Origin,” our Legacy story arc, will take Carol down a pretty terrifying wormhole back to her own past, setting up an epic confrontation that she’ll be dealing with in one way or another for the next two arcs. It’s an epic story Marvel editors Sana Amanat, Joe Quesada, and Axel Alonso have been brainstorming with me since our last creative summit, and I’m super excited to get to tell it.
In recent years, Captain Marvel has taken on a major leadership role in the Marvel Universe. How will that continue or change under Legacy?
As I’ve said in the past, with the events of Secret Empire, we’ve really been reminded that there’s more than one Cap in the Marvel Universe. As Captain America stumbles, Captain Marvel steps up. Watching Steve lose his way has only made Carol more certain of hers — which is good, because almost everything else she’s thought she knew about her life is about to be called into question. Buckle up, folks. Things are about to get pretty wild in the Carol-verse.