After only two issues, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s new Marvel comic, Black Panther & the Crew, has been cancelled. The series follows an all-black team made up of Black Panther, Storm, Misty Knight, Luke Cage, and Manifold. The series will have the opportunity to finish its story arc, with its sixth issue being its last.
Coates took Black Panther out of Wakanda, where his Hugo nominated series takes place, and placed him in Harlem with a lineup of black heroes, dealing with issues the black community faces in the real world. This series was Coates’ opportunity to comment on American society, tackling real issues, such as police brutality, while bringing more black talent to Marvel. This series would be one of Marvel’s most important yet, but the publisher didn’t hesitate to cancel it.
Coates told The Verge that the series was cancelled due to poor sales, even though the first issue sold more than both of Coates’ other two series, Black Panther and Black Panther: World of Wakanda. Although first issues usually sell much better than subsequent issues, the first issue sold well with practically no advertising before it was released. The numbers aren’t out yet for the second issue, but the drop had to have been enormous, considering its first issue sold over 35,000 copies, Black Panther‘s newest issue sold over 30,000 copies last month, and Black Panther: World of Wakanda sold a relatively low 14,000 copies. Black Panther & the Crew must have dropped by at least 20,000 for Marvel to have cancelled it because otherwise, the sales would have been around Black Panther: World of Wakanda‘s last issue. And with Marvel’s recent cancellation of Nova, which sold over 14,000 copies, but just barely below Black Panther: World of Wakanda, one can see the cancellation range is around 14,000 copies. But until the numbers are out, one can only speculate.
It’s great to see characters of color become more prevalent in comics, but it is truly angering to see them tossed aside so quickly. For all the diversity in the stories, the creative department is still painfully white. That’s not to say white people can’t write about non-white people, but a white person’s ability to write about being black in America can be severely limited by being, well, not black. Black Panther & the Crew was an opportunity for Marvel to publish a powerful and important story about real issues that matter to real people, while having a black creative team as well.
There are still 4 issues that have yet to come out, and as the first two issue have been well-received, I’d urge you to pick up a copy of the first two issues and follow the series to its conclusion. And if the series end up selling well, who knows? Maybe Marvel will renew it. These stories need to be told by people who live them.