Reginald Hudlin once had an idea for a Black Panther crossover event titled "World War Wakanda" - and while he's still waiting for a chance to do that, the writer/director is giving readers a taste in February with special epilogue.
In February 21's Black Panther Annual #1, Hudlin reunites with his "Dark Reign" Black Panther era artistic collaborator Ken Lashley for a unique story - which also serves as a sequel to the memorable "Black to the Future" storyline.
Hudlin and Lashley are among several Black Panther alums coming back into the fold with Black Panther Annual #1, including Don McGregor (with Daniel Acuna) and Christopher Priest (with Mike Perkins) - whom Newsarama has talked with previously. Now we turn to Hudlin and Lashley to lay out their story, and how they feel about the return during the build-up to T'Challa's first movie.
Newsarama: Reggie, thanks for doing this - Marvel has briefly told me your story is a direct sequel to "Black to the Future." What can you say without spoiling too much of it?
Reginald Hudlin: It started with fans on my website who kept asking me what story I would do with Black Panther if I ever returned to the character. I mentioned there was a big sprawling epic called “World War Wakanda” that was one of my favorite ideas and they got really excited by it. So, when they invited me to contribute to the annual, I thought an epilogue to this unwritten story might be cool.
Nrama: Ken, give us your perspective since you translated it from a script to a comic book – what can people expect?
Ken Lashley: Well, Black Panther is in it… and some villains.
Nrama: [Laughs] Anything else?
Lashley: [Laughs] It’s a fantastic ending to this story. This fills in what has transpired in this universe, and it’s amazing. When I first read it, I was like “Woah… it is a page-turner.”
The first page alone is Easter egg of the Marvel universe. I wonder if all of them will be found. It took me two days to draw it.
Nrama: Your Black Panther Annual #1 story is just a short - what would it take to get you back to do more?
Hudlin: I’ve got a lot of obligations on my plate with the revival of Milestone Media and other film and television projects. But I’ve learned to never say never.
Nrama: Ken, would you do another run on Black Panther?
Lashley: Ah….yeah, I never really got to scratch that off the list because even though I drew the series it was more a story about Shuri, so if l got a chance to return to the Panther I would love that. Marvel keeps me pretty busy and I’m super happy doing what I have on my table, but if Black Panther came across that table I would love that.
Nrama: How often do you think about T’Challa and new ideas for him?
Hudlin: I have ideas for everything. Not just Black Panther, but musicals and horror films and political movements. It’s just about time management.
Newsarama: Speaking of time management, this reunion for you two is eight years since your run on Black Panther. What’s it like to reunite like this?
Ken Lashley: Eight years! … Wow, I really didn’t know how long it’s been. When I first got the call to do the art for that job I got crazy excited, Black Panther has been one of my all-time favorite characters and getting a chance to add to the mythos of this incredible character was a dream come true.
Reggie Hudlin has been a great creator and to work on the annual with him was fun and exciting; he gives the creators he works with the space to do the best work they can. That doesn’t happen all the time. When asked to come finish the story we started years ago… I said “Heck, yeah.”
Nrama: What are your thoughts about Ryan Coogler’s upcoming Black Panther movie?
Lashley: To be honest, l just want to see it all. I fell in love with the Panther when I was a child and now to know that a movie is being made is mind-blowing. When l saw the first trailer, l was so ready to see it. I’m trying to avoid as much as possible because l want to just go in with an open slate, but that first trailer… wow, sick stuff.
Hudlin: Like everyone else, I’m looking forward to it.
Lashley: I have to admit, I didn’t think I would ever see it on the big screen, so February can’t get here fast enough.
Nrama: And have you had a chance to read Ta-Nehisi Coates's recent Black Panther run?
Hudlin: I have a huge stack of comics in my office that I haven’t had time to read, which is kind of a sacrilege because that’s how I relax, but I just haven’t had time to read anything. But he’s a brilliant man.