Black and Blue
How Black Panther and Blue Marvel could be a major hit for Marvel.
Black Panther is about to be everywhere. He’s about to gain even more fanboys than Civil War was able to get him. His mainstream appeal has been steadily growing over the last decade and it’s just now about to hit its stride. He was featured in the ill-fated, but entertaining Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Cartoon, he’s currently a regular in Disney’s Avengers Assemble cartoon, and he’s been in a few video games. Currently, he has his own comic run, he was just in Al Ewing’s great but sadly underrated Ultimates comic. With the release of the new trailer for his new movie it’s absolutely the perfect time to launch something different with the character to further cement him in the minds of comic readers. Ultimates, despite being well thought out and executed, didn’t sell well. The highly anticipated Black Panther and The Crew, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates was cancelled just 5 issues in. Part of the problem was that Ultimates was launched right after Secret Wars and a lot of Marvel comics sales suffered from event fatigue. It’s also apparent that Al Ewing is a great writer but fans wanted the heroes in that book to really cut loose and demonstrate their abilities it just didn’t materialize the way they wanted. Coates’ is on the current Black Panther run and it’s decent, but BP and The Crew was entirely too slow for comic readers who often want instant gratification. It read like a novel and Black Panther was hardly in it at all. Fans can be impatient and fickle so a move like that was a huge misstep. Also, Panther doesn’t need another large team book at this point, especially not one where he’s made to play in the background of his own title book.
In steps Blue Marvel.
Dr. Adam Brashear A.K.A The Blue Marvel is a Superman-esque character created by Kevin Grevioux who is a living antimatter reactor. He can manipulate and control antimatter, this power potentially makes him one of the strongest and most dangerous characters in Marvel’s current lineup. In true comic fashion they have to put restraints on a character with dangerous powers, they handle this by making Dr. Brashear a pacifist. Since his introduction in 2009, Blue Marvel has been slowly gaining a loyal fanbase with a deep yearning to see him in his own solo run. Marvel, undoubtedly still feeling the sting from their flirtation with diversity which I wrote about here. is probably hesitant to give a newer minority character another solo run. Yet, Blue Marvel could actually serve to help fix the problem and not add to it. He’s an original character and not a stand in for another already established character. He’s fresh and new with his own unique power set and backstory. He won’t annoy longtime fans of Hulk or Thor for taking their spot, but he should definitely be allowed a seat at their table. He’s a former soldier, a scientist, and superhero who was asked to stand down by President John F. Kennedy in the 60’s when it was discovered that he was African American, so as to avoid creating even more racial tensions than what already existed. A story like that doesn’t even need to be overt in its messaging, it sells itself. Needless to say, he has a very interesting backstory.
His history with Black Panther-
Thanks to seeds dropped by Al Ewing back when he was writing Captain America and the Mighty Avengers there’s already a history of tension between Black Panther and Blue Marvel. It began when Panther and the Illuminati didn’t inform the rest of the world of their actions during the End of Marvel’s End of Everything event leading up to the magnificent Secret Wars.
Both characters have different philosophies, this comes out further in Ultimates and they briefly clash but it is never fully realized. A book with two drastically different characters with very different approaches who are working together to insure justice is done is one of the elements that make Ultimates such a great read.
I don’t hesitate to draw the obvious similarities to Batman/Superman but this match has the potential to go its own way and be something unique. Both characters are brilliant scientists in their own right but T’Challa bears the additional weight of a king who’s willing to go to great lengths to protect his kingdom. The Blue Marvel is a hero; a professor who loves science above all else, and he feels that violence solves nothing although he’s had his fair share of fights.
Taking Black Panther's soon to be promotion from C & B player to A lister and combining that with Blue Marvel's potential as a unique and innovative character, the potential is there for Marvel to have a sleeper hit on their hands. Of course this, like everything else, would require good story telling. With a decent writer on the paring, I think it could give many fans something they didn't know they wanted.