The Black Panther Marvel comic book relaunched this past Wednesday and sold out its new number one issue. And the new Black Panther is a woman.
The panel started off with a teaser trailer for the comic — yes, that's right, a teaser movie trailer for a comic book — setting up the relaunch of the character. The current Black Panther, T'Challa, is in a coma, but his country demands a new leader, and someone has stepped in to take his place, but no one knows who she is.
Echo, Monica Rambeau, Sue Storm, and Storm have been bandied about as the new Black Panther, and series author Reggie Hudlin even joked, “Is Logan the new Black Panther? He acquired the tertiary mutant power of boobs.”
“I'm gonna tell you,” Hudlin continued, “It's Michelle Obama.”
Namor will be making an appearance in the next few issues of Black Panther as well, and Doctor Doom will be showing up with an army of Doom-bots.
“One of the things I like about Black Panther, he doesn't have that whole 'no killing' thing,” Hudlin noted. “He's an honorable man, but he will put a mad dog down.”
“The female Black Panther is here, she's here for a while,” executive editor Axel Alonso noted.
Hudlin continued that turning the Black Panther into a woman, “isn't even the most radical thing we're going to be doing in this series.”
He said that he's had 40 issues to write the stories he always wanted to see, “and now I'm going to wreck the place.”
As for the animated series, the panelists were thrilled to have Djimon Hounsou (Amistad, Gladiator, Push) doing the voice of the Black Panther. “He was a powerful presence in the booth,” Hudlin noted.
Kerry Washington (Ray) and Alfre Woodard (Beauty Shop) will be providing voices for the series as well, and the preview video for the series featured the stars discussing their process as well as Stan Lee talking about the origin of the Black Panther — and lending his voice to the series.
“Stan Lee really is that guy,” Hudlin noted.
“Kerry Washington and Djimon Hounsou don't do TV. They've never done TV. But they're doing it for Reggie and the Black Panther,” Denys Cowan, Senior VP of Animation at BET, said.
The panel previewed an unfinished preview clip from the show, and then discussed the use of John Romita, Jr.'s art to create the animated series to really bring the comic to life.
“Everything you see in the comic book, you will see in the series,” Hudlin said.
There will be eight episodes in the first season of the animated series.
Axel Alonso and Eric Rollman (head of Marvel Animation) spoke about the contribution that Reggie Hudlin has made to the character, and the reach of the animated series, which they hope will bring new readers to Marvel comics.
Fans wanted to know about the possibility of a live-action movie, and also the connection of the animated series to BET. Cowan noted that Marvel and BET have cooperated in creating the series, but the fact that Hudlin was President of Entertainment at BET and the writer on the series led to that cooperation.
Hudlin is also a film director (House Party, Boomerang) and so of course fans of the series applauded the idea of him directing a live-action Black Panther movie.
“To a whole generation of African-American kids, he wasn't like everybody else,” Denys Cowan said of the importance of the character in the Marvel Universe.
“The point is that he's an interesting person,” Hudlin continued.
Hudlin pointed out that the word “minority” in reference to an African character is misleading, and that he uses the character to write about political and social issues that he cares about. He said that he's gotten positive feedback on the book drawing an audience outside of the normal comic audience.
“That's good for comic books, it's good for comic book retailers, it's good for everyone,” he said. “It's exciting to know that Black Panther has a truly international fan base.”
“Our goal is to welcome everybody,” he said.More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage: NYCC '09 Video Page