For Queen and Country: Hudlin Talks "Black Panther"

In February 2005, writer Reginald Hudlin reintroduced Marvel Comics readers to one of the company's most unique characters, The Black Panther. Now, that he has reestablished the monarch of Wakanda as the Marvel Universe's premier African hero, Hudlin has begun the tale of the next big milestone in T'Challa's life. At the end of "Black Panther" #14, readers began to hear the sounds of wedding bells as the Panther popped the question to his first love, X-Men member Ororo Munroe AKA Storm. However, the happy couple's wedded bliss might be cut short because their stroll down the aisle occurs right as "Civil War" breaks out in the Marvel Universe. CBR news spoke with Hudlin for the scoop on the Black Panther's pending nuptials and the character's role in Marvel's big summer mega-story.

Finding the King of Wakanda a Queen was part of Hudlin's plan when he became the regular writer of "Black Panther." "Once Marvel said they liked the first six issues of the mini-series I had written, they offered me the opportunity to turn it into an ongoing series," Hudlin told CBR News. "I knew the next logical storyline would be T'Challa looking for a queen. Producing heirs is one of the main jobs of being king, so it would be logical that would be an immediate obligation."

Hudlin and Marvel editorial considered a number of candidates for the object of T'Challa's affections and future queen of Wakanda. "There were other options considered, but once Ororo became available, then it was the most perfect, really the only choice," Hudlin said.

For Hudlin, there are many reasons why Ororo is the perfect and only choice to be the Panther's Queen. "Besides the fact that they fell in love with each other as teenagers, both T'Challa and Ororo are people with a lot of responsibilities to a lot of people," Hudlin explained. "Both are great warriors, both humble people despite being near divinities in their homeland and superheroes in the US, both are natural leaders. . . . I can go on and on."

Writer Eric Jerome Dickey is currently chronicling the romance between the teenaged T'Challa and Ororo in the six-issue "Storm" mini-series, which readers of "Black Panther" might want to seek out. "It's not required reading, but you're a fool if you don't buy both," Hudlin said. "The stories enhance and enrich each other."

The announcement of the Panther and storm's engagement will be big news in Wakanda and around the world. "It's a global event," Hudlin stated. "Of course in Wakanda it's a huge event, but it's a huge event that all eyes -- even interstellar ones -- are watching."

Not everybody will feel that the pending royal wedding is good news and The Panther and his bride will have much to accomplish before they stroll down the aisle. "For every positive action, there is an equal and opposite negative reaction," Hudlin hinted. "So, forces in both directions will be responding to this event. And yes, there will be a bachelor party. With strippers."

When T'Challa and Ororo's wedding day finally arrives, it will be the social event of the season in the Marvel Universe. "Everyone is going to be there," Hudlin explained "Poor Scot's [Scot Eaton, artist on 'Black Panther'] hand is going to fall off drawing all those characters. I grew up on the Reed and Sue wedding issue and I've been re-reading, figuring out how to take that to the next level."

After the happy couple has tied the knot, Hudlin does have plans to send them on a honeymoon. "There will be a trip," he stated. "Of course the destination is a secret."

Once T'Challa and Storm have settled into wedded bliss, many readers are wondering what type of role the Panther's new bride will play in "Black Panther," whether she'll be a co-star in the book or a supporting character. "It's the first year of a marriage of two strong personalities that are used to being in charge -- those questions will be sorting themselves out in a big way," Hudlin said.

Some readers also might be wondering if Storm will play an active part in any of the X-books or if her newfound responsibilities as a member of Wakanda's royal family will keep her occupied. "As Panther had a duty to find a Queen, so Storm will have duties, too," Hudlin explained "But nothing will play out in an expected manner."

While the Panther and Storm are being drawn together in the bonds of matrimony, many other Marvel heroes will find the ties that bind them shattered with the outbreak of "Civil War." "Some key Civil War events will play themselves out at the wedding," Hudlin stated.

The Panther and his new bride won't need to ask each other, "Whose side are you on?" Hudlin said that T'Challa and Ororo will find common ground on the divisive issue between the Marvel heroes in "Civil War," the U.S. Government's proposed superhuman registration act.

Hudlin cryptically hinted that "Civil War" might be a two front battle for the Black Panther, with the hero embroiled in both events at home in Wakanda and possibly in the thick of things in America. However, Hudlin was very clear that the outcome of Marvel's mega story would have repercussions on "Black Panther." When asked if the fall out from "Civil War" would affect relations between the United States and Wakanda he answered, "Whoo boy yeah!!!"

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