Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel
By GEORGE GENE GUSTINES SEPT. 22, 2015
Ta-Nehisi Coates can be identified in many ways: as a national correspondent for The Atlantic, as an author and, as of this month, as a nominee for the National Book Award’s nonfiction prize. But Mr. Coates also has a not-so-secret identity, as evidenced by some of his Atlantic blog posts and his Twitter feed: Marvel Comics superfan.
So it seems only natural that Marvel has asked Mr. Coates to take on a new Black Panther series set to begin next spring. Writing for that comics publisher is a childhood dream that, despite the seeming incongruity, came about thanks to his day job. “The Atlantic is a pretty diverse place in terms of interest, but there are no comics nerds,” besides himself, Mr. Coates said in an interview.
Like I was saying yesterday before this was announced, TNC’s cognitive strengths run less to Ockham’s Razor and more to Arkham’s Rubber Room.
(Yes, I know, the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane with its padded cells and straightjackets that just can’t seem to ever hold Batman’s nemesis the Joker is part of the DC universe, not the Marvel universe. But, still …)
In the comments, Mr. Blank notes:
That actually explains a lot about him. Didn’t he grow up in a gang-infested area of Baltimore? That must have been a terribly stressful environment for a nerdy little kid who was into comic books and Dungeons and Dragons. He probably would have turned out different if he’d grown up around more white kids, where he would have found a natural home with all the other geeky kids.
Yes, as I pointed out in my review of his bestselling minibook Between the World and Me:
[It’s] interesting for what it reveals about a forbidden subject: the psychological damage done by pervasive black violence to soft, sensitive, bookish souls such as Coates. The Atlantic writer’s black radical parents forced the frightened child to grow up in Baltimore’s black community, where he lived in constant terror of the other boys. Any white person who wrote as intensely about how blacks scared him would be career-crucified out of his job, so it’s striking to read Coates recounting at length how horrible it is to live around poor blacks if you are a timid, retiring sort.
Coates’ lack of physical courage is a common and perfectly reasonable trait …
Despite all the violence Coates has suffered at the hands of other blacks, his racial loyalty remains admirably adamantine. Thus, his ploy, as psychologically transparent as it is popular with liberal whites, is to blame his lifelong petrified unhappiness on the white suburbanites he envied for being able to live far from black thugs.
Unfortunately for Coates’ persuasiveness, white people, unlike blacks, have never actually done anything terribly bad to him. The worst memory he can dredge up is the time an Upper West Side white woman pushed his 4-year-old son to get the dawdling kid to stop clogging an escalator exit. She even had the racist nerve to say, “Come on!”
Coates reacted as unreasonably as a guest star on Seinfeld would. Ever since this Escalator Incident, he’s been dwelling on how, while it might have looked like yet another example of blacks behaving badly, it was, when you stop to think about slavery and Jim Crow (not to mention redlining), really all the fault of whites.
But instead of blaming it on his Black Panther dad for having to live near the Baltimore ‘hood, he blamed it on “people who think they are white” for his being intimidated by black thugs all the time.
A commenter points out he didn’t really live in “Wire”-ville, he went to the upscale public exam school. But he always wished he was far from other Black Bodies, and thus has searched out convoluted explanations of why his childhood terror of other black boys was the fault of the Roosevelt Administration: his thought uses not Ockham’s Razor but it’s opposite: Arkham’s Rubber Room.
Commenter SPMoore8 writes:
In the first issue of “Black Panther”, our hero, Michael Trayvon Coates, a mild mannered community activist and provider of school breakfasts to poor African American children, and having previously dabbled in the themes and writings of Rousseau, Thomas Paine, and Voltaire, is galvanized as he sees persons who are defined as black systematically robbed of their skittles, blunts, and bodies and joins forces with other SJW’s to form the Black Lives Matter Brigade (BLMB), and, using his own superhero skill of managing to conceal himself and disorient evil doers by generating impenetrable clouds of rhetorical fog, assumes the identity of BLACK PANTHER ….. ”