Birth Of A Marvel Writer: Hudlin talks "Black Panther" and "MK Spider-Man"

It seems like Reginald Hudlin has done it all. He has written and directed a number of blockbuster movies like "House Party" and "The Great White Hype." He has directed episodes of "The Bernie Mac Show." He co-wrote a satirical graphic novel called "Birth of a Nation" with " The Boondocks" creator Aaron McGruder which "Captain America: Truth" artist Kyle Baker illustrated. Now he can add comic book writer to his credentials, because he will be chronicling the monthly adventures of two of Stan Lee's most beloved characters. In February, Hudlin and artist John Romita Jr. will relaunch the most iconic African super hero, "The Black Panther," in a new monthly title and later in the year Hudlin takes over as the new writer for the Marvel Knights "Spider-Man" title. Hudlin spoke with CBR News via e-mail about "The Black Panther" and "Spider-Man" and his plans for those titles.

Hudlin has been a fan of the Black Panther ever since the character debuted in the pages of "Fantastic Four" and has followed the characters' adventures all the way to the end of the last "Black Panther" comic written by Christopher Priest. "My favorite image is a cover from 'Tales of Suspense' with the Panther and Captain America locked in combat," Hudlin told CBR news.

The Black Panther is one of the most unique Marvel characters. Hudlin feels the core characteristic of Black Panther is what makes him so interesting and original. "He's the king of a technologically advanced African nation. One that's never been conquered. One that's rich in resources," Hudlin explained. "As the Black Panther, he is the leader of a whole warrior culture that can defeat any invader."

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A conversation with storyboard artist, Paul Power, is what ultimately led to Hudlin working for Marvel. "We'd talk comics as we would work and when I would mention certain names, he'd call them up and put me on the phone with them. For example, I mentioned how much I admire the art of John Romita, Jr…next thing you know, I'm talking with him," Hudlin said. "John and I met in person at the San Diego Comic-con later that year, and agreed we had to do something to do together. Another time, while working with Paul, I mentioned my love for the art of Neal Adams - boom, I'm on the phone with the Legend! So on my next visit to New York, I stop by and see him. Neal says I need to be working in comics and calls Joe Quesada on my behalf! The next day, I'm talking with Joe, who brings Axel Alonso in on the meeting as well. Axel and I stay in touch, and one day he pitches me doing the Panther. I try to say no, but he pins me with excellent verbal jiu-jitsu."

Hudlin's first story arc on "The Black Panther" will reexamine both the title character and his home country's origin. "The story starts in B.C., actually, to give the reader a bigger context of what Wakanda is, and how that ties into who the man is. T'Challa is still the man, T'Chaka is his father," Hudlin explained. "A bunch of high powered fools try and test the Panther, and he stomps a mudhole in them. I mean, a bunch of other stuff happens, but that's basically it."

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There will be plenty of guest stars in Hudlin's second "Black Panther" arc. "Once we establish who The Panther is, and what Wakanda is, then we will deal with how the Panther interacts with the world, specifically the superhero world," Hudlin said. "We'll see characters like Luke Cage, Shang Chi, The X Men, The Fantastic Four…by the time we get to the end of the arc, we'll see everybody. I mean everybody. But the Man-Ape. No damn Man-Ape. "

The action in "The Black Panther" will take place in Wakanda and around the world. "He's a king, but he's an international player (in every sense of the word) so you'll see both," Hudlin said. "I like the balance of the old Lee/Kirby Thor issues, when the stories alternated between those set in Asgard and those set on Earth. I think that's a fair comparison to what I'm shooting for. If you've got good stories, it doesn't matter where he is."

Hudlin has also been a Spider-Man for a long time. He told CBR News that his favorite stories include, "All the classic stuff. The first spider-slayer with JJJ's face, 'Just A Guy Named Joe', the Enforcers, the Sinister Six with those amazing Ditko full page shots, Peter buying his bike, the introduction of Mary Jane, the original end of the Goblin."

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According to Hudlin, Spider-Man's appeal is similar to that of another hard luck comic strip character. "He's Charlie Brown with superpowers."

Hudlin jumped at the chance to write Spider-Man. "After I turned in my first arc on 'The Black Panther,' Axel asked me if I' d be interested in any other titles," he said. "When he mentioned Spider Man, well, what are you supposed to do? Say no?"

Like Mark Millar, Hudlin will write 12 issues of the Marvel Knights "Spider-Man" title. Marvel told CBR News Tuesday morning that the new art team on the book once Hudlin takes over will be Billy Tan and Jon Sibal. Click on the interior page art below for a sample of their work.

Hudlin's first story arc will have Spider-Man matching wits with a Daily Bugle reporter from the mid-west who is an homage to a certain S-wearing flagship character of Marvel's "distinguished competition" "There's a lot going on with the first arc, with a couple of new characters, some normal, some not," Hudlin said. " We're just playing with archetypes."

Spider-Man" #13"Marvel Knights

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Hudlin was cryptic about his second "Spider-man" arc. "The second arc will involve a major upgrade in Spidey's style of crime fighting," he told CBR News.

Many of the plot developments of recent years will be explored in Hudlin's "Spider-Man" run. Including Peter's teaching job, his membership in the Avengers, and his relationship with the Daily Bugle. "All of the above," Hudlin explained. "Anything that grounds Peter Parker in the real world, with relatable problems, is a good thing."

Hudlin is having a great time exploring the Marvel universe and the new medium of comic books. "I'm concentrating on writing the last four issues of my 'Panther' run right now." He said, " That's right, I'm eight issues ahead and the book hasn't even debuted yet. I'm loving this new medium, and I want to make sure that the books are as good as they can be."

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