OK, so you’ve seen Black Panther half a dozen times now and can’t get it out of your head. What next? Don’t worry, dear reader, I got you covered. Here’s a little list of some comics and books to read to keep that Black Panther high going, covering work by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Christopher Priest, and Brian Michael Bendis to Nalo Hopkinson, Nisi Shawl, and Nnedi Okorafor, among others…
The obvious first post-Black Panther read would be the comics themselves, and there are a TON to choose from. I recommend starting with the run by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze (later replaced by Wilfredo Torres), which chronicles T’Challa’s efforts to protect his kingdom and unite his people against a superhuman terrorist group trying to instigate a rebellion.
From there, also check out the short-lived spinoff series Black Panther and the Crew (Coates, Yona Harvey, Butch Guice), Black Panther: World of Wakanda (Rembert Browne, Roxane Gay, Coates, Harvey, Joe Bennett, Alitha Martinez, Afua Richardson), and Rise of the Black Panther (Coates, Evan Narcisse, Paul Renaud). Crew features Black Panther, Storm, Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Manifold looking into the murder of a Harlem activist. The latter two titles are prequels: World is about how lovers and Dora Milaje warriors Ayo and Aneka met, while Rise tells of T’Challa’s ascendance to the Wakandan throne.
Lastly, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t also recommend Christopher Priest’s six-year run. Priest was the first Black writer for Black Panther, and he basically revolutionized the character. You don’t get Coates’ version without Priest’s. The series is darkly funny and offers a still-fresh look at race and racism in America.
The Black Panther comics are on the serious side, so for a dose of lightness check out Miles Morales. Half-Puerto Rican and half-African American, teenage Miles is a geek who is too smart for his own good when he is bitten by a spider genetically modified with the Oz Formula (it’s comics, just go with it). At first he rejects his new abilities, but after Peter Parker is killed he takes up the Spider-Man mantle. Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man is a fun first start, and not just because it introduces Miles and tells the story of how he got his powers. We learn what kind of hero Miles wants to become and watch him learn how to use his great power responsibly.
From there, pick up Bendis’ second Miles series, Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man. Things get more complicated for Miles as he deals with keeping his superhero secret from his girlfriend, his disappearing dad, and finding out Peter Parker isn’t dead after all.
If you, like me, would ride into battle at Shuri’s behest without a second thought, then you ABSOLUTELY MUST pick up Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (Brandon Montclare, Amy Reeder, Natacha Bustos, Marcos Failla). Lunella Lafayette is a teenage science genius whose bestie is a sentient dinosaur from another world. Lunella is sharp-witted, clever, and adorable, making her a fine match for the volatile but loyal Devil Dinosaur. Her classmates tease her with the nickname “Moon Girl” because of her propensity for inventing things. Plus, it’s canon that she’s smarter than Black Panther, Tony Stark, Doom, and even Reed Richards. Shuri being the greatest genius in the MCU? A total nod to Moon Girl. Also like Shuri, Lunella is far braver and bolder than her young age suggests.
The Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor
Speaking of brilliant young women in STEM, Nnedi Okorafor’s three-novella series set in part in Africa is a must-read. Sixteen-year-old Binti is a bit of a genius. When it comes to building astrolabes (communications devices that also store personal information), no one is better than Binti or her father. She goes through a host of trials—alien attacks, genetic hybridization, cultural theft, higher education, love, loss, and warfare—as she struggles to find her place.
After the events of the first book, Binti, she finds herself torn between the Himba girl she once was and the culturally and genetically blended young woman she will become. In the second, Binti: Home, she returns to her village but her earlier rejection of Himba tradition leaves her an outcast. And by the final installment, Binti: The Night Masquerade, she stands between two opposing forces, both of whom are just as wrong as they are right.
Everfair by Nisi Shawl
Wakanda exists only by the lucky hand of fate. If that Vibranium meteor hadn’t struck where and when it did, if different tribes found it first, if the people who found it hadn’t banded together, Wakandans would’ve been victim to colonial aggression like the rest of the African continent. Nisi Shawl brings a similar set of ideas and possibilities to the Belgian Congo in this novel. Everfair presents an alternate history where the Indigenous people of the Congo are aided by a group of British socialists and African American missionaries who carve out a nation state from land dominated by the Belgian invaders. It’s a bit of steampunk (what with industrial age technology and airships), a bit epic fantasy, and all amazing. If you couldn’t get enough of Ryan Coogler’s subtext on race, racism, and imperialism in Black Panther, then you need this book in your life.
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
In a post-apocalyptic dystopian future plagued by the chaos that follows a nuclear apocalypse, the first queen founds the great pyramid city of Palmares Três on a bay in Brazil. Like Wakanda, the land thrives on deep culture and technological advancements. Every five years a Summer King is selected by popular vote. He becomes an instant celebrity and is spoiled with a lavish lifestyle for a year. Then the reigning queen kills him in a ritual sacrifice, during which he chooses the next queen with his dying breath. June and Gil, two young artists, both fall in love with the new King, Enki, and are set on a course they didn’t expect. This action-packed YA novel is a lush futuristic sci-fi story combining high tech, Brazilian cultural traditions, and rebellion in the face of moral ambiguity. It’s also brimming with intersectional diversity, something the Black Panther movie was lacking.
Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
One of the best parts about the Black Panther cast is its pan-African diversity. Delve back into the Black diaspora with Nalo Hopkinson’s novel set on planets colonized by Caribbean space explorers. Corrupt Antonio Habib rules over Toussaint until he and his daughter Tan-Tan are driven off their planet and onto another filled with exiles and criminals. After years of abuse at his hands, Tan-Tan kills him and goes on the run. Pregnant with her father’s child, she seeks refuge with an Indigenous species out in the bush outside the town. She soon takes the moniker of the Robber Queen, doling out violent justice to protect the helpless and ease her guilt at her own crimes. Although Midnight Robber doesn’t have any strong thematic or character connections to the film, it’s one of the best examples of contemporary literary Afrofuturism, hints of which are all over the Black Panther movie.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Set in a fantasy world reminiscent of West Africa, wicked King Saran (think a blend of Killmonger’s brutality with T’Challa’s insistence on protecting his own above all else) eradicates all magic and slaughters most mages. Their children are thrust into slavery or inescapable poverty. A decade or so later, a rebellious princess, Amari, steals the key to reawakening magic and goes on the run with a bitter potential mage, Zélie, and her protective older brother, Tzain. The trio head out on a journey to distant lands in order to uncover ancient ways long believed lost. The king sends his heir, Prince Inan, to capture them all, but when he begins to see the error of his father’s ways, Inan must decide what the future of his kingdom will be: a land of peace and harmony, or of warfare and suffering. Epic, devastating, and fast-paced, Adeyemi’s novel is perfect for fans of Shuri, Nakia, Okoye, and Ayo.
Alex Brown is a YA librarian by day, local historian by night, pop culture critic/reviewer by passion, and QWoC all the time. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, check out her endless barrage of cute rat pics on Instagram, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on Tumblr.