On April 6th, 2016 Ta-Nehisi Coates' Black Panther #1 will hit physical and digital shelves, and everyone who pre-ordered the book will get their copy. Then, we'll all read it for the first time.Photo: Giphy Speculation about whether what we read in A Nation Under Our Feet will be great or not is split. Some of the comic book aristocracy is concerned about where Coates' run will fit in with those that precede it. How will it match up against Priest's Vol. 3 or Hudlin's Vol. 4? Is the storyline, based on the what we know about it, too much of a rehash of Black Panthers we've seen before? Fans of Black Panther and Ta-Nehisi Coates have hailed this as the second coming, which will singlehandedly change the face of the industry. And finally, there are a number of people familiar with Coates and his work that are not so much diehard fans of comics, but are now interested. No matter how you slice it, the lead up for this release has gathered a lot of hype. The perception amongst many is that the cinematic universes of comic book companies are at the height of their game, and comic book sales are on the decline. But, save for a revenue dip in the years 2010 and 2011, the dollar amount the industry makes was lucrative from 2001 to 2009, and has been steadily rising since 2012. With that said, Ta-Nehisi Coates's Black Panther #1 is on track to be one of, if not, the highest selling comic book issues this year, and it's only April.
The highest selling issues of the last three years (sales numbers est.)
2013 - 310,584 copies soldPhoto: Image Comics
2014 - 532,586 copies soldPhoto: Marvel Comics
2015 - 985,976 copies soldPhoto: Marvel Comics
On March 18th at C2E2, the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Marvel announced that the first issue of the new Black Panther run had already surpassed 300,000 copies sold during the Diamond Comics Retailer Breakfast. Executive Editor Axel Alonso told CBR, "To see "Black Panther" #1 reach 300,000K in sales is a testament to the vision of the creative team, and the excitement that greeted the announcement of the series...When fans see what Ta-Nehisi and Brian have planned for the first – and best – Black super hero, it's going to be the buzz book of the industry." This is a Drake-in-2008 So Far Gone type of moment for Ta-Nehisi Coates in the comic book industry. The current marketing formula has been a perfect mix of popularity and proficiency in a similar area of expertise, the co-sign and special attention of the big corporate entity, and the strength of the character as a, stand alone, iconic figure in history. Not to mention the fact that the Wakandan Prince is making his silver screen debut this summer, and then a solo film directed by Ryan Coogler on the way. What a time to be a Black Panther fan. Yes, Coates is a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, an awarded and celebrated author, and an intellectual big brother/celebrity figure to the Black and PoC community at-large. But can he write comics, though? Marvel, 300K+ other people, and I are betting on it. Obviously, Marvel has a little more skin in the game than the rest of us, but still. In fact, we're starting to see much more Black Panther merchandise than there has been for a while now, in the form of Funko Pop! figures, children's costumes, and plenty of other toys, apparel, and collectibles. Reviews, think pieces, and hot takes galore are surfacing, and many more will come in the wake of Ta-Nehisi Coates and artist Brian Stelfreeze's Black Panther #1. There will be good, bad, ugly, and everything between in the whirlwind of clickbait and personal opinions surrounding this comic book. But, in the words of money making mogul Shawn Corey Carter, "Men lie, women lie, numbers don't." By March 18th, over 300,000 copies of this book were spoken for and sold to retailers. I'm not sure what the exact odds of going platinum are, but I wouldn't rule it out. Due to the perfect storm that this book is a part of the product is flying off the shelf, and there is an excitement that doesn't often permeate the mainstream from the comic book world. In layman's terms, it's lit. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet #1 will be the biggest comic book release in 2016. Peak blackness has been achieved. Photo: Marvel Comics