Sunday, June 23, 2024

Marvel Hires More Black Writers: Roxane Gay, Yona Harvey Set for Black Panther Female Spinoff

Roxane Gay (L) and Yona Harvey
Roxane Gay (L) and Yona Harvey

*Marvel has swooped up more black writers as it seeks to diversify its comic universe and expands its Black Panther series.

At Comic-Con Friday, the studio announced the addition of Roxane Gay and the poet Yona Harvey to its roster of talent, which already includes Black Panther writers Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze.

The latter two have laced its T’Challa (who made his on-screen debut earlier this year in “Captain America: Civil War”) stories with a number of dynamic female characters, including the revolutionary leader Zenzi, and elite bodyguards-turned-starcrossed-lovers Ayo and Aneka.

According to EW.com, the three female characters will get a spotlight series called Women of Wakanda, to be co-written by Gay and Harvey.

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Via EW.com:

The first issue of Women of Wakanda, which is set to launch this November, will feature two different stories. Gay’s will focus on Ayo and Aneka; co-plotted with Coates, it will come out of Black Panther’s explosive “A Nation Under Our Feet” storyline, which has radically shifted the status quo in Wakanda, the high-tech African country ruled by T’Challa.

Gay already has several projects on her slate: her story collection Difficult Women is due out in January, with the memoir Hunger to follow later in 2017 and a film adaptation of her novel An Untamed State is in the works. But Gay told The New York Times it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

“The opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe, there’s no saying no to that,” Gay said.

Harvey’s story in the first issue of Women of Wakanda will focus on Zenzi. Coates recruited her for the project because he thought her poetry would be natural fit for the comic book format, he told the Times.

“I have found that poetry is so correlated with writing comic books,” Coates said. “That’s just so little space, and you have to speak with so much power. I thought she’d be a natural.”

The series seems part and parcel for Marvel’s increasing efforts to diversify both is casts of creators and characters. Many of the most famous Marvel superheroes are no longer white men; Captain America’s shield has been taken up by a black man, a black girl will soon wear the Iron Man armor, the Hulk is Asian-American, and Thor is a woman. Between Coates, Gay, and Harvey, Marvel is also upping its efforts to recruit more diverse writers to script these characters.

“We have to open the door,” Coates told the Times. “It’s not, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if there are more women writers, more women creators in comics?’ That would be nice, but in many ways, it is kind of an imperative.”

Black Twitter rejoiced today upon hearing the news:

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