There’ve been months of buzz about the fact that superstar non-fiction writer and avowed geek Ta-Nehisi Coates is going to write a superhero series for Marvel Comics, and that has translated into big numbers. The first issue of his run on Black Panther — with art from Brian Stelfreeze — doesn’t come out until April 6, but Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso told an audience of industry insiders at Chicago’s C2E2 convention that comics retailers have already ordered 300,000 copies of it, according to Comic Book Resources. For comparison, last month’s most-ordered comic, Dark Knight III, didn’t even hit the 150,000-copy mark. Black Panther’s order numbers don’t even include eventual sales of digital copies after it comes out — and those will probably be high, given that the comic is likely to bring in nontraditional comics readers eager to see what Coates will do.
For those not in the know, Black Panther is a long-standing Marvel character, a genius and master fighter who rules the technologically advanced fictional African nation of Wakanda. He was the first major black superhero when he first appeared in 1966, and he’s about to make his big-screen debut in May’s Captain America: Civil War. Coates has said his comics story will follow Panther as he faces threats from within Wakanda, and will pull “from the very real history of society — from the pre-colonial era of Africa, the peasant rebellions that wracked Europe toward the end of the Middle Ages, the American Civil War, the Arab Spring, and the rise of ISIS.”
“To see Black Panther No. 1 reach 300,000 in sales is a testament to the vision of the creative team and the excitement that greeted the announcement of the series,” Alonso said. “When fans see what Ta-Nehisi and Brian have planned for the first — and best — black superhero, it’s going to be the buzz book of the industry.” “Going to be”? Hell, it already is.