Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Reginald Hudlin

The writer returns to a new volume of BLACK PANTHER and teases the identity of the woman who will assume T'Challa's mantle!

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By Kiel Phegley One of the truly underrated super powers remains reinvention. Of course, that singular ability won't always be found in the arsenal of most Marvel heroes but rather in the tool kit of the company's longest-running writers. As the latest scribe to rebuild a signature Marvel franchise, Reginald Hudlin balances the dual duties of bringing the Black Panther to an all-new audience as an animated series for BET television while simultaneously shattering fan expectations on the Panther's title, re-launching on February 4 with a new #1, a new female lead and a new artist in Ken Lashley. The writer took time to talk a bit of both, mostly focusing on the potential candidates to take the mantle of T'Challa after Dark Reign rolls into Wakanda.
 

BLACK PANTHER
preview art by
Ken Lashley

Marvel.com: There's so much to talk about with the arrival of the new BLACK PANTHER series, but the main question seems to be "Why now?" Why after writing the adventures of T'Challa for so many years did 2009 become the year to introduce such a tumultuous turn to his life as the Black Panther? Reginald Hudlin: It's a combination of practical problems, an inspired moment, and a unique opportunity. When this journey started, I set out to write a six issue [limited series]. I didn't foresee this turning into an ongoing series or me becoming president of a large entertainment company [like BET]. Each job was pretty demanding but rewarding. Doing both jobs over three years was pretty much an impossible feat, especially when you add two kids being born in the midst of all that. I was proud I was never late for an issue while helping create and launch over a dozen hit shows, but finally I was burnt out. On everything. So I left my job and [writer] Jason Aaron did a great job on the Panther "Secret Invasion" arc, and I took a trip to Europe and got my mojo back. I knew Dark Reign was coming up, and it would provide storytelling opportunities as good as or better than Civil War [did]. The Civil War storyline [provided] a great pretext to delve into one of the strengths of the character, which is that he's an international political player. I got exciting knowing that this wasn't just a [limited series], but an opportunity to build an epic storyline that would both shake up the Panther's universe and at the same time give the reader an even better opportunity to understand and "own" it, because we would be rebuilding it almost from scratch.

BLACK PANTHER
preview art by
Ken Lashley

Once we saw where the story was going, it made sense to do a new #1, because it was a new beginning. Doing the stories collected in "Who is the Black Panther," "Bad Mutha" and "The Wedding" was great because I was able to tell stories I always wanted to tell with T'Challa. Now it's about changing the game, reinventing and elevating the Panther mythos. Marvel.com: Before tackling the big question of who our new Black Panther is, the fate of T'Challa seems a pretty critical point to discuss. With preview pages showing Sub-Mariner popping up in issue #1, can fans assume that Norman Osborn and his Cabal have some role in T'Challa's defeat? Reginald Hudlin: This storyline is deeply rooted in the Dark Reign, no doubt, but this is a Black Panther story. And the events will start a ripple effect through the Marvel Universe. Marvel.com: We know T'Challa hasn't died, but what can you say to fans in terms of his long-term status? How do they know he won't reclaim the mantle of the Black Panther by issue #3? Reginald Hudlin: Oh no, that does not happen. There is no quick reset going on here. I'm sure there must be a fresh way of saying "things will never be the same again," but really, things will never be the same again. Marvel.com: Let's talk about some of our new Panther suspects. Since her introduction into comics, Storm has never been someone to back down from a challenge or a fight. What's her immediate response to the thrashing her husband takes?

BLACK PANTHER
preview art by
Ken Lashley

Reginald Hudlin:
If you're asking whether she would be a good candidate replacement for T'Challa, well the answer is obviously yes. She's a natural leader with years of experience heading up the X Men, and she's the wife of the King. Her fighting abilities speak for themselves and obviously she's fiercely protective of the man she loves. Marvel.com: Two candidates already very close to the Black Panther's world are T'Challa's sister Shuri and the Dora Milaje. What are the chances there's a new role for the women of Wakanda? Reginald Hudlin: Shuri is his sister, and as a member of the royal family she's already had Panther-level training. Like any brother/sister relationship, there are fights and petty jealousies, but she will do anything for him. The Dora Milaje are some of the deadliest women in the world, and certainly know all his moves as a fighter. If something were to happen to T'Challa, it would be their life's mission to get revenge. Marvel.com: Finally, we've got Monica Rambeau and Echo as possible heirs. While Monica has definitely played a strong role in the series in the past, she's also heavily identified with the American super hero community, as is Echo at this point. Does the inclusion of these two signify the possibility that the new BLACK PANTHER series will continue to crossover heavily with the larger Marvel U as a whole? Reginald Hudlin: While the first arc is centered in Wakanda, this is definitely an international story and heroes and villains from all over will be involved. Given that Storm joined the cast last "season," it's certainly possible that one of these ladies could do the same.

BLACK PANTHER
preview art by
Ken Lashley

Marvel.com: When you initially came on BLACK PANTHER, a big part of the tone you struck for the series involved mixing in influences from across African American popular culture. How do you plan on continuing that flavor in the series? Reginald Hudlin: It's just acknowledging that the world is very small. The elite of Wakanda have graduate degrees from Oxford and Harvard, and they have spent time in working class communities in America and elsewhere in the world. Not to mention that black American pop culture is globally dominant now. Real sophisticates go from Fela Kuti to Q-Tip without missing a beat. Marvel.com: You appear to have a real passionate partner on this book in the form on Ken Lashley. From the pages you've seen, how is Ken's love of Black Panther in general translating into his final art? Reginald Hudlin: Ken is killing it on the art. I loved his work on the BLACK PANTHER ANNUAL and was thrilled that he [joined] the book. He's got a great sense of design, the characters emote well and he really delivers on spectacle. Marvel.com: Lastly, I wanted to ask you a bit about the new "Black Panther" animated series. I know that the show is going to be debuting at the New York Comic-Con, and I was wondering what kind of feelings you have about finally being able to take this screen translation in front of a live audience. Reginald Hudlin: The more I work on it, the more excited I get. The quality of actors we are getting is amazing. We pinch ourselves in the recording booth, because everyone is killing it. And I get to add the music, sound effects and action elements I imagined when I wrote it. It's a lot of fun. To get ready for BLACK PANTHER #1, coming February 4, visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited to get caught up. Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes!

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