Marvel and Lexus Team Up for Black Panther Digital Graphic Novel

Lexus and Marvel has announced a collaboration that extends beyond the company's cars being in Black Panther, with the news revealed last Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, the day before Marvel Studios' Hall H panel, which revealed exclusive new looks at the upcoming film.

Coming out this fall, a multi-part Black Panther custom "digital graphic novel," titled Black Panther: Soul of a Machine, will be released to help the audience get to know T'Challa and other characters featured in the movie. There will be eight different covers to go with the initial chapter releases, plus a collected edition. The comic is published by Marvel Custom Solutions, a division of Marvel publishing that has partnered with many companies over the years to bring a distinctly Marvel spin to branded content.

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To write the story, Marvel and Lexus turned to Fabian Nicieza -- whose name fans will recognize thanks to his runs on New Warriors, Thunderbolts and oh yeah, co-creating some dude named Deadpool. The comic will be illustrated by Scott “Rahzzah” Wilson and Szymon Kudranski.

"When [Marvel Custom Solutions Editor Darren Sanchez] told me that they were looking at doing a Black Panther/Lexus story, my first reaction, having been a Lexus driver, was that makes a lot of sense," Nicieza revealed. "Because there's a lot of aspects of both that overlap with each other. And then he told me it was going to be an 80-page story and I said, 'OK, this is a project.' This is something that is quite a bit more in-depth than a 12-page mini-commercial or something like that."

"The whole idea of this is to tell a Black Panther/World of Wakanda story, it's set in the Marvel Universe, that speaks to all the ethos of Lexus. Yes, there is an LC 500 in it and yes it's beautiful, but the entire aspect of the story is about creating that, the need to create it, and the need to understand how man and machine work best together."

The villain of the story is a long-standing character who has lost some of his humanity and believes machines are the way of the future. Here's the official description of the story: "Centered around the balance between human and machine, the comic features the Lexus LC 500 with a new, Wakandan spin and its role in helping the Black Panther defeat a legendary villain."

Mindy Hamilton, SVP of Global Partnerships at Marvel, wanted to start early on this project (conversations had begun two years ago) and really make something special.

"It is probably one of the most ambitious ones that we've done...this one's going to be sick," Hamilton said. "I mean, it is just sick. Not only is it eight different chapters, [there will be a ninth chapter and] when we bundle them all together, it also unlocks another story. But it also has motion graphics. So as you're literally propelling the story, the panels...come to life. And we felt it was an important layer just in the story, the DNA, that we were telling about man and machine. And the fact that it's a digital concept And the fact that there's motion to it, we just said, 'That's perfect.'"

The partnership between Black Panther and Lexus was celebrated at a party last Friday in San Diego, with the movie's star Chadwick Boseman in attendance (as seen above). Keep an eye out for the comic in the fall, and Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Boseman in the title role, hits theaters Feb. 16, 2018.

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