Marvel is thankfully going all in before the cinematic release of ‘Black Panther‘ and while comic readers already have ‘Black Panther – Start Here‘ to look forward to, fans of novels can now check out ‘Black Panther: The Young Prince’! The book was released earlier this month and was penned “by Coretta Scott King award-winning author Ronald L. Smith.” In the book, we get a look at the early years of the young Prince both in Wakanda with plenty of time also spent in Chicago of all places!
Smith has been a comics fan for a long time and that this book’s take on T’Challa is a bit of a combination of the comic and film.
As the target audience is young adults, Smith tried to not only make him relatable but include a few lessons along the way:
“He’s coming from a world that’s all about honor, and history, and doing the right thing—I think we all have something to learn from those traits—and any kid or young adult that reads the book, I think can take away those things about honor, and being truthful to yourself and the people you love. I think we can all take something from that no matter what age we are.”
The fun part is that much of the book takes place in Chicago where Smith lived for 14 years. He took quite a bit of his experiences there and molded it into the novel. For example, Chicago is called the first city of architecture so when T’Challa come to America, he needed to be in “an iconic American city like Chicago.” The setting isn’t just from personal experience because unlike Wakanda, “it’s cold, it’s got a totally different vibe. It’s kind of a neat juxtaposition to play the two off of each other to create a cool dynamic.”
The book will feature two main characters which will be “his friendship with M’Baku and his rivalry with Hunter.”
“Hunter is obviously an antagonist of sorts for T’Challa. They’re not the same, they don’t look alike, they don’t come from the same world—so M’Baku is more of a brother of sorts to him. They’ve been friends since they were very little, they’re going to have a rapport that’s easy and natural.”
As for social issues, according to Smith, “We know that there’s going to be some type of commentary on America, race relations, and poverty—because T’Challa’s coming from this wealthy, rich nation to the heart of Chicago, South Side—so it kind of just writes itself.”
It should be interesting to see how the Prince of Wakanda takes in this world which is so different from his home.
Do you plan on reading ‘Black Panther: The Young Prince’ prior to the upcoming film’s release? Is there enough draw for the character to see how a younger take on him ends up? Share your thoughts below True Believers!
Black Panther. Ruler of Wakanda. Avenger.
This is his destiny. But right now, he’s simply T’Challa-the young prince.
Life is comfortable for twelve-year-old T’Challa in his home of Wakanda, an isolated, technologically advanced African nation. When he’s not learning how to rule a kingdom from his father-the reigning Black Panther-or testing out the latest tech, he’s off breaking rules with his best friend, M’Baku. But as conflict brews near Wakanda, T’Challa’s father makes a startling announcement: he’s sending T’Challa and M’Baku to school in America.
This is no prestigious private academy-they’ve been enrolled at South Side Middle School in the heart of Chicago. Despite being given a high-tech suit and a Vibranium ring to use only in case of an emergency, T’Challa realizes he might not be as equipped to handle life in America as he thought. Especially when it comes to navigating new friendships while hiding his true identity as the prince of a powerful nation, and avoiding Gemini Jones, a menacing classmate who is rumored to be involved in dark magic.
When strange things begin happening around school, T’Challa sets out to uncover the source. But what he discovers in the process is far more sinister than he could ever have imagined. In order to protect his friends and stop an ancient evil, T’Challa must take on the mantle of a hero, setting him on the path to becoming the Black Panther.