Local comic-book writer of The Burning Metronome, podcast host and musician R. Alan Brooks was first introduced to Black Panther in the ’80s, when, as a boy, he played with action figures of Sun-Man, an equally muscle-bound black alternative to the golden-haired He-Man.
Brooks notes that back then, the character T’Challa wasn’t “well-defined, but had a lot of potential.” It wasn’t until the ’90s, with comic-book writer Christopher Priest and in the early aughts, with Reginald Hudlin, that the King of Wakanda found his stride.
It’s Brooks’s hope that audiences will “recognize what it means to have a fully developed black character, that movie creators no longer feel they need a reason to have an all-black cast.”
Brooks wants to see Black Panther churn up interest in Afrofuturism, a multimedia genre that explores sci-fi and fantasy stories driven by black experience — a genre absent from most movies, books, TV shows and the like, where black characters are too often relegated to be sidekicks — and often not even that.
If the Friday release of Black Panther captures the public's imagination, as Brooks hopes, the result will be simple: “Black narratives will be seen as human narratives. Bam!"