At San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, Marvel plans to announce a new series spinning out of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze‘s Black Panther series, Black Panther: World of Wakanda. An anthology series, the lead story features Ayo and Aneka, two lovers who defected from Wakanda’s all-woman security force to form the vigilante Midnight Angels. The story is co-written by Coates and feminist essayist and critic Roxane Gay, with art by Alitha Martinez.
The first issue of World of Wakanda will also feature a 10-page backup story written by poet Yona Harvey, with art by Afua Richardson. Harvey’s story stars Zenzi, a female revolutionary who has also been introduced in Coates’ Black Panther.
The announcement is notable for a couple of very significant reasons. Barring further announcements, World of Wakanda will be Marvel’s only series with unambiguously queer characters in the lead roles. Almost unbelievably, it’s also the first ever Marvel title written by black women. The subject of representation is something that matters to Roxane Gay herself, who told the New York Times, “The opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe, there’s no saying no to that.”
But while Gay is well known in the circles of feminist theory, she may be less familiar to comic book fans. So who is Roxane Gay?
Gay is one of the most exciting writers in America today. Like Coates before her, working on a Black Panther title represents her first comics work, but she’s done just about everything else: She’s best known for her non-fiction, but is also a novelist, poet, editor, and professor.