Published March 21, 2017

Black Panther & The Crew: Coming Together

Writer Yona Harvey prepares her plans for the street smart super team!

Image for Black Panther & The Crew: Coming Together

Writer Yona Harvey has treated Black Panther fans to some excellent storytelling in BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA, and she’s got more on the way with the upcoming BLACK PANTHER & THE CREW, issue #1 hitting April 12.

The death of a Harlem activist will set in motion a story featuring Black Panther, Storm, Misty Knight, Luke Cage, and Manifold. We caught up with Yona about her experience writing the story, and what we can look forward to. How does writing comics compare to writing poetry and other projects you’ve worked on?

Yona Harvey: Writing WORLD OF WAKANDA—my first experience as a comics writer—felt phenomenal. Contributing to that project gave me this cool “permission” to spend as much time as I wanted digging into the Marvel archives and thinking deeply about characters’ personalities and motivations. It’s more collaborative than writing poetry and other projects I’ve worked on. And the effects of the decisions made in the storytelling seem more up-front, on the surface. The feedback and editing are constant—and I enjoy those conversations very much. You’ve had the chance to work with a couple of other amazing writers in Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxanne Gay. Can you tell us about that?

Yona Harvey: It feels like super hero school! Ta-Nehisi and Roxane are experienced storytellers in prose, and very good at what they do. So I liked processing the ways those two approached their stories. But at one point, I also realized Marvel brought me on to do more than just be amazed at their awesomeness. I had to get comfortable bringing ideas to the table or sharing images or poems I saw as relevant to what we were doing. Did you consider yourself a fan of comics before WORLD OF WAKANDA?

Yona Harvey: I thought of myself as a big fan of comics, but did not have a “regular” reading routine. But that tends to be true with most things I love, like music. I go through periods of devouring everything, then periods of long absences. That’s life, I guess. I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten too much into public fandom—especially nowadays because I spend very little time online.  I’m terrible with email and social media. But, of course, I secretly crush on people all the time—without any desire to actually meet them. What can readers can look forward to most about BLACK PANTHER AND THE CREW?

Yona Harvey: I think readers can look forward to some personal insights about the characters. Of course, it will have plenty of adventure. But maybe anyone who has ever wondered why T’Challa and Storm can’t seem to get it together will find some answers. Stay tuned. The story will have T’Challa, Storm, and Manifold fighting street-level threats, which we don’t often see. Do you think this will give readers a chance to see a different side of these characters?

Yona Harvey: Yes! And, hopefully, readers will relate to the inevitable missteps and awkwardness that often accompany strange encounters. How has writing this story compared to writing WORLD OF WAKANDA?

Yona Harvey: For some reason, this question makes me think of setting. WORLD OF WAKANDA invokes a kind of vastness of geography. We see all this unchartered territory in terms of how Wakanda might look or how Wakandans dress. BLACK PANTHER & THE CREW, though, takes place in Harlem. Of course, Harlem leaves lots to the imagination. But I can fact-check its unique landscape—streets, landmarks.  So there’s a different kind of balancing act that happens when writing a story set there. The death of an activist in Harlem will set the action of the story into motion. Can you tell us anything about the challenges the Crew will face?

Yona Harvey: One thing that has always fascinated me is how a hundred people can witness the same event—major or minor—and see it a hundred different ways. Especially in friendships, long-term relationships, and families. Like, how can two siblings feel equally convinced that the other is the mother’s favorite? So, the challenges this Crew will face have everything to do with these characters’ unique relationships with Ezra, the activist, and how differently they view his death and the circumstances surrounding it. T’Challa and Ororo have a history, and so do Luke and Misty. But as a group, they haven’t really teamed up in the past. What was it like for you to figure out how these characters would navigate both old relationships and new?

Yona Harvey: The more I work with comics, the more I learn to enjoy trouble-making. In comics, trouble is very good!  You actually learn a lot about characters when trying to understand how they get in and out of a jam. Lots of the time, the conflicts come in battles or fight scenes. But navigating old and new relationships can seem even thornier! Would you like to mention anything else?

Yona Harvey: The artwork is just breathtaking. You asked about fandom? Butch Guice and Dan Brown—I’m a fan!

Join up with BLACK PANTHER & THE CREW #1 from Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, and Butch Guice on April 12!