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Marvel Comics’ Social Justice Hero Experiment Goes Badly

Being published under the iconic Marvel Comics brand is, apparently, not enough to realize success for a new comic book series that had topical, social justice themes as an ideological center of gravity.


According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ta-Nehisi Coates, co-writer of Black Panther and Friends, revealed recently to the website The Verge that the series was being dropped by Marvel because of low sales. Marvel has yet to confirm Coates’ announcement.

In recent years, high-profile comics have started to evidence storylines and central character changes reflective of the overtly progressive narrative that has come to dominate much of the American media, at large, and the Black Panther and Friends series is one of the latest efforts in that regard.

In the ongoing storyline, the Black Panther character is teamed with other, black Marvel superheroes – Misty Knight, Luke Cage, and Storm of the X-Men – as well as the white Iron Fist…to investigate what happened to a black civil rights activist who died while in the custody of the New York City police.

News of the cancellation comes after the publication of only the series’ second issue, although Coates says that the storyline will continue and be concluded by the sixth issue, after which the series will be put to bed.

News of the cancellation comes on the heels of comments made recently by Marvel’s vice president of sales, David Gabriel, that diverse characters were poorly received by customers.
“I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales,” Gabriel said. “Any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up.”

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large