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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 10/21/2008

This Just In: 2009's 'Black Panther' News Is a Bombshell...

By Michael Cavna

The first modern black superhero is about to get a serious facelift -- even if we can't yet see under the mask.

Marvel Comics tells us that come 2009, the Black Panther will have a new look. As an "exclusive" to Comic Riffs, they say, Marvel honcho Joe Quesada and Black Panther writer Reginald Hudlin trumpet that there's a bigger surprise yet:

Black Panther will now be a woman warrior.

A first-look illustration of next year's pioneering Black Panther. (Marvel)Enlarge Comic

Marvel will relaunch the "BP" title in February, but we've got the first look at the new Black Panther right here.

So who's the woman who will wear the costume? Neither Hudlin nor Quesada would divulge the identity, but judging by their comments, the future of T'Challa -- the current Black Panther -- is quite bleak.

Hudlin told 'Riffs contributor David Betancourt:

"Over the course of 40 issues [over three years], we ... really defined the character in a way that hadn't been done before. ... Having done that, you go: "How do we up the stakes?" Marvel is great about doing really shocking changes to their character -- they don't believe in just keeping everything as status quo."

And what was Quesada's reaction to the concept? "It was a very cool idea. Especially thinking about the legacy of the character," he says. "The fact that this is sort of a part of the Wakandan religion, and their royal family. It was a neat approach to the Black Panther, and I think it will add a wonderful twist to everything."

The news, of course, is sure to spark controversy among fans -- not unlike when Captain America began packing heat this year. How will Hudlin react to that?

"Honestly, my entire run on the series has been controversial. Which is great," he says. "All the writers I admire are hotly debated online, and I feel like I'm always in great company in that situation. But more importantly, it means that people care about the book."

Also important to Hudlin is writing a character that speaks to a diverse audience.
"That's one of the goals I set: to broaden and diversify the comic book audience," he says. "We're breaking that gender barrier."

Quesada, too, speaks to the importance of Black Panther's draw across cultures and gender.

"Remember, he's the first black superhero character ever created," Quesada says. "I think he's the hallmark of something that is a very important part of the Marvel universe which is that we are a very diverse universe. Our characters reflect the real world. To me, he's the leader of the pack when it comes to that sort of stuff."

So what will happen to the current Black Panther? Hudlin will only hint:

"There will be another after him," he says. "In the same way that he became the Black Panther because his father was assassinated and died before his time, the same could happen to T'Challa."

By comparison, DC Comics's the Justice League has Vixen, another strong black woman. So will Vixen and Black Panther ever fight?

"In terms of having them pair up, match up, that's a fabulous idea," Hudlin says. "If DC's down, I'm down."

TOMORROW IN THIS SPACE: Cartoonist-author Berkeley Breathed discusses the end of "Opus."

By Michael Cavna  | October 21, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Superheroes  
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Well we shall see how long the change lasts. Marvel characters have a habit of returning.

Posted by: Richard | October 21, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

This looks ridiculous. Hudlin can use the word "controversial" to describe his run all he likes, but the truth is that his run was terrible, and that's why it's readership dwindled to practically nothing. I don't know what Marvel sees in him that they keep him around. Priest wrote BP with better sales than this volume for years. Why not bring him back? Or give it to Kevin Grievoux? Anybody but Hudlin.

As for who this BP will be? It's probably Queen Divine Justice.

Posted by: Trav | October 21, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

She's probably Storm

Posted by: Andy | October 21, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't T'Challa have a sister?

Posted by: BoyWonder | October 21, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

noooooooo!!! don't kill T'Challa!!!!! not T'Challa!!! seriously, since he has an animated series comic out soon, i doubt Marvel's ready to kill the character (plus, it's not like comic heroes ever stay dead for long...). and the new Black Panther is going to be Shuri, T'Challa's sister. you can bet on it.

Posted by: Nick Marino | October 21, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

In a male dominated society a female Black Panther would have to be super-human. Thing level strength. Priest was the better writer for the Black Panther and he should be brought back if it is possible.

Posted by: Bryan Mattox | October 21, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

It'll be sad to see T'Challa go as the Black Panther and I at least hope he isn't killed off. If the Black Panther is traditionally the king (and I assume it can be queen) of Wakanda then Storm would be up next as queen unless it passes to blood relatives before spouses. He does have some cousins according to the Marvel U page which may provide some guesses.

I'll stick with my normal attitude of "Wait and See". I'll have to actually read it before I decide.

Posted by: shinobitsn | October 21, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

There's a storm brewing in Wakanda, and it hits this February in the extra sized BLACK PANTHER #1!
Yeah, I think its gonna be Storm too.

Posted by: gsmitty44 | October 21, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

hmm... I look forward to seeing a sexy female Panther in the title; since Mr. Hudlin is the writer, one can only presume that he had significant input on the new direction; as long as the art is engaging and the stories are challenging, I'll continue to stick with it..

Posted by: hypestyle | October 21, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't know, I think it's pretty obvious how this will play out. T'challa will die in this Secret Invasion whatnot, then Storm will take his place. Ugh. When did it become necessary to kill off the titular character to create "suspense?" Isn't a hallmark of good comic book writing the ability to maintain characters for long periods of time?

Posted by: Rorschach | October 21, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I hope it isn't Storm or QDJ considering T'challa has a sister. What about one of the Dora Milaje? Priest did a way better job on his run and this is a recycled idea from the end of his run where Kasper Cole temporarily assumed the mantle of BP.

Posted by: waitandsee | October 21, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little let down by this since I've really been enjoying Hudlin's run on the title so far (even if the continuity glitches in the first arc bugged the heck out of me). Hope it doesn't shake up the title too much.

Have a good day.
John Cage

Posted by: John Cage | October 21, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Hudlin and Marvel are pure idiots! Taking an Icon such as the Panther and "reworking" the character for what? So it can fail? The Black Panther as he eluded to was not only the first comic character that was of African descent, but the only one who didn't play into the stereotype that most white writers fall back on when dealing with a black character. Hudlin has very little understanding of what the character of the Black Panther represents to many of his fans. That is fans of the Panther, not of Hudlin! Hudlin's opinion of his three year run on the Panther as being controversial is spot on, and not in a good way. You see, The Panther in my mind has never been written as he deserves to be. Marvel has always treated character of color as "second tier," despite the potential that each of the character have, they are never thoroughly explored. Much like the failed Blade series. Whats the problem, Marvel? Do you not believe there is a market for Heroes of Color? If so, then why was the Blade Movie trilogy so successful. It was Marvel's first successful movie franchise! So there must be an audience for this genre! Right?! I mean, if its done right--which it ain't been in comic form! Reason being is that Marvel has always thrown crappy writers at these titles! It appears, Marvel chooses Writers who are not enthusiastic about the character, and are clueless about the culture of the character. And most see these titles as a segway to the next "big title shot!" I know Hudlin's a black man, but he's not on point! Not in the least! This will be a failure! Shame on you, Marvel! Shame on you!!!

Posted by: PantherFanNOMore! | October 21, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

"Remember, he's the first black superhero character ever created,"

No he's not. I did a project on superheroes and how the years and feelings had affected their stories and even though I can't remember who was Black Panther was not the first black superhero. Sure he may be the most famous but he certainly wasn't the first.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

"Over the course of 40 issues [over three years], we ... really defined the character in a way that hadn't been done before. ... Having done that, you go: "How do we up the stakes?" Marvel is great about doing really shocking changes to their character -- they don't believe in just keeping everything as status quo."

So, there big answer is to get rid of the character. To me the character is T'Challa not Black Panther. Changing who's under the mask doesn't revitalize the character, it changes their identity. Why is Marvel hellbent on creating legacy characters all of a sudden. There's Cap, apparently Moon Knight, and now Black Panther. Legacies are the main thing I dislike about DC, and now Marvel doing it to. This sucks.

Posted by: LocoMofo | October 21, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Maybe T'Challa's disappearance has something to do with Marvel's new mini-series "War of the Kings" coming out right after the Secret Invasion is over?

He is a King. There is a war about to take place. Put 2+2 together folks!

Posted by: Ken C | October 21, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

"War of the Kings?" That's a good guess for Panther's disappearance, Ken C. As for the new Black Panther, I doubt it will be Storm. Marvel seems to be trying to pull her back into the X-Men, especially with her as a regular in Astonishing X-Men. The title of the current Storm: Worlds Apart series is a big tip off. :)

Posted by: Alex K | October 21, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Black panther was the first african american superhero! and until Chritstopher priest came along he was a B leaguer at best but once Priest went to work he became like the Godfather of the Marvel universe his importance grew ten fold until he is at current time one of the more influential characters in the Marvel universe I don't understand why Hudlin wants to take away all Priest and himself have built true comic fans have been turned off by death of issues since they brought Jean Grey back

Posted by: Brent W | October 21, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

I doubt they'll kill T'Challa. I think (or at least hope) Marvel would realize that it's been doing the kill-of thing enough recently, especially after Cap.
No, I think there will be a bigger twist to it -- perhaps the Skrulls will kidnap him?

On another note, although I'm not a big fan of Hudlin, I must say his short-lived run on Fantastic Four was really enjoyable.

Posted by: Rob Luff | October 21, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Why Marvel...Why? I've tried to keep an open mind with all of the changes that has happened in the marvel universe, but this continues a very disturbing trend with minority male marvel characters over the past three years. Civil War-Goliath is killed, World War Hulk-War machine is mangled and now is a cyborg, Secret Invasion-Luke Cage is sleeping with a skull and that is just the beginning of his hell and now this. Why? Also there isn't any consistency as Invisible woman whom was supposed had been killed months ago is still running around in various comics. Placing a woman in a black panther suit isn't going to sell more comic books, it's replacing Hudlin with someone that has more creativity and respect for the history of the Black Panther.

Posted by: Marvel Reader for now | October 22, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Just another woman in a cat suit.

Posted by: Tom T. | October 22, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

i really hope that its not storm cuz i really like the idea of her heading back to the x-men.She's been a wallpaper in the bp title long enough.As for t'challa killing him off is a bad idea, but then again after reading the comics for all these years being "OPEN MINDED" IS EXTREMLY IPMORTANT

Posted by: Andrew b. | October 22, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

The first african-american super hero was First African-American superhero: The Falcon, Marvel Comics' Captain America #117 (Sept. 1969).

Black Panther is an african, not african-american, super hero ( introduced in Fantastic Four #52, July 1966).

Posted by: Marcos | October 22, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous. Marvel is graping for straws with this one. What they need to do is apply a new writer to the title. I understand that Hudlins lack luster creative talent has rode this title in the grounds since the best three comics out of this whole series were written by someone else. T'challa is a solid character that has alot of potential. The secret invasions of the series presented a much more appealing view of the black panther. With proper writing this comic could really be successful but Marvel continual attempts to add exxtras to the comic haven't worked because the writting is horrible. The whole new fantastic four adventure after the sham of a wedding (which was also written horrible)haven't worked and neither will this bonehead idea. And frankly a female black panther looks alot like catwoman. Come on Marvel fire this guy get someone who can write and move one. And for all for all my fellow readers you should check out Hudlin's newest title "How to Ruin Characters and Run Story Lines in to the Ground."

Posted by: James Mitchell | October 23, 2008 3:58 AM | Report abuse

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