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One of Marvel Comics' greatest heroes is getting a new version of his origin this fall, and this time the publisher is bringing younger readers along for the ride. Today, SYFY WIRE can exclusively reveal the launch of Black Panther Legends, a four-issue series that tells the story of how T'Challa of Wakanda became the Black Panther, in a way you've never seen it before.
Written by Tochi Onyebuchi (Beasts Made of Night, War Girls) and drawn by Setor Fiadzigbey (Bunheads), Black Panther Legends promises to explore the moments that made T'Challa who he is, using both familiar elements of the character's origin and exploring never-before-seen corners of the story and the character.
"Origin stories come with a lot of responsibility, especially for a character with as much incredible history behind him as T'Challa," Onyebuchi told SYFY WIRE. "Black Panther Legends is a deeply personal book, and I was given the opportunity to situate T'Challa and his family in a specific political and social context. There's some really cool stuff in here, but it's also a book about a family at a very particular time on the African continent. And I'm super grateful to Marvel for giving me the freedom to explore that and to ask, through his character, some very knotty questions about responsibility."
The book will begin as the story not of one Wakandan prince, but two, as Black Panther Legends explores the childhood of T'Challa and his adoptive older brother, Hunter. Though Hunter is the eldest, T'Challa is the one destined for the throne, and both must wrestle with their place in a changing world. From there, the series promises to explore everything from T'Challa's first encounter with Ororo Munroe to the arrival of the Fantastic Four in Wakanda, all building to T'Challa taking his rightful place in the Marvel Universe.
"We meet T'Challa at a very young and impressionable age," Onyebuchi explained. "He's still figuring out his place in Wakanda as well as Wakanda's place in the world. How that interacts with his sense of duty gives us the major throughline of his journey in this series."
Though Black Panther Legends is an exciting journey all by itself, it's only the beginning of something new at Marvel. The book marks the launch of Marvel Legends, a new line of stories meant to serve young readers and longtime fans alike, exploring well-loved origin stories through a new lens while also adding new layers to them. For Marvel Senior Editor Lauren Bisom, that meant turning to a creative team who knows how to tell accessible stories for readers of all ages.
"I have long admired Tochi's writing in both the young adult and adult space, so I knew he'd be able to help tell T'Challa's story in a way that would appeal to younger readers and long-time fans alike," Bisom said. "He's just so great and giving us fantastical, adventurous narratives while still being able to really ground his characters in these deeper emotional moments--two things that a story about our young Black Panther really needed."
She continued, "With his beautiful painterly style that exudes energy in every textured stroke, we knew right away that Setor would be the perfect artist to help bring T'Challa's early adventures to life. Having a picture book background where we've seen him incorporate panels in such unique ways, alongside his more traditional sequential stories, we knew Setor's art would be both sophisticated as well as accessible to readers who might be picking this up as their first comic. There really isn't another Marvel comic that looks quite like this one will!"
Black Panther Legends is also just the beginning of what Marvel has planned for the larger Legends line. Though the publisher's not ready to reveal exactly which characters and creative teams are up next, Bisom did offer one little teaser.
"Let's just say we are very excited to (re)introduce readers to Marvel's strongest Avenger," she said.
Black Panther Legends #1 arrives in October.