Black Panther‘s teaser immediately got moviegoers hype to see the King of Wakanda—and the Dora Milaje—in action on the big screen. Unfortunately, we still have to wait eight more months for Black Panther to be released in theaters, but that doesn’t mean we have to let the hype die down.
There’s plenty of Black excellence in the comic book world to keep us satisfied until February 2018. Between Black Panther’s spinoff comic Black Panther and the Crew (which ensembles Storm, Luke Cage, Misty Knight and Manifold with the man of the hour), BLACK (a comic book series where only Black people have superpowers), and Harriet Tubman Demon Slayer, there are stacks of issues waiting to be read by newcomers and old heads alike.
But that’s not the only reason to read them. Not only do these comics feature Black characters at its forefront, but most of them have entirely Black artists and writers on the creative team as well. And because of that, they express our culture in a way that only we can. Whether you’re new to the comic book game or a vet looking for new faves, here are 10 comic books you need to read—for the culture.
Trill League remixes popular DC superheroes into a hilarious series. Although the full graphic novel won’t drop until later this year, creator Anthony Piper releases one-off pages that poke fun at our faves and not-so-faves in pop culture. In one of them, Robin’s counterpart, Trill Robin, is hired by Drake’s ghostwriters to keep the Toronto rhymer safe after Kendrick Lamar drops “The Heart Part IV.” The service came complete with a Sade CD and incense to soothe Drizzy’s worries. “He should’ve been considerate of ya’ll feelings. That’s Compton n***as though,” says the young hero to Drake. While fans wait for the full series to drop, Issue #0 is available to read for free here.
Inspired by Nas’ Illmatic, Tephlon Funk takes place in the hip-hop legend’s birthplace of Queensbridge. It follows Inez, a young Black teen who gets her world turned upside down after meeting Gabriel, a troublemaker who doesn’t care for rules. Two Black women, Cameron and Giselle, later join them. With three black women at the forefront, it’s no wonder Willow Smith is a fan of the series. The young creative is one of the 14,000 people who follow Tephlon Funk’s Instagram page. Issue #1 is available to read for free here. Issues #2 – #4 can be purchased here.
Monthly Hype (Noir Caesar Entertainment)
This monthly magazine doesn’t just offer one series to subscribers, but eight. Curated by NBA forward Johnny O’Bryant of the Charlotte Hornets, Monthly Hype is dedicated to diversifying the manga world and publishing indie creators. With eight different series, it offers various genres including sci-fi, romance, and action. The first issue was released last month with a cover inspired by the 1992 classic film, Juice. Name your price for a sample of the magazine here or subscribe for new chapters and issues delivered monthly for $0.99 here.
Black Panther & The Crew (Marvel Comics)
Black Panther & The Crew is the second spinoff title from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther run. However, instead of fighting solo, Black Panther is joined by an all-star team of Black superheroes including Storm, Misty Knight, Luke Cage and Manifold. This series is especially epic since we may never get to see this lineup in the films (Storm is still owned by 20th Century Fox). This series also gives us an amazing moment where Black Panther sings Frank Ocean’s “Nikes.” Although the title was unfortunately cancelled, there are still three issues to be released for a six-issue run. If you’re looking for more of a Black Panther fix, Coates’ series is still ongoing, while Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey’s six-issue run of World of Wakanda serves as a great way to learn more about Black Panther’s bad-ass bodyguards—the Dora Milaje.
BLACK (Black Mask Studios)
BLACK answers a lofty question: what if Black folks were the only ones with superpowers? The answer here: the government would try to keep it under wraps, secret organizations would form, and most of them would have to hide their powers to keep safe. We’re introduced to the world through Kareem, a teenager who is fatally shot by the police only to discover that Black people have superpowers—and he’s one of them. The Kwanza Osajyefo-written series doesn’t shy away from politics. Issue #1’s cover shows a Black man in a red hoodie with his hands up as two guns are aimed at him. The first five issues of BLACK can be found here. Stay woke.
Harriet Tubman Demon Slayer (Peep Game Comix)
In this series, Harriet Tubman slays—literally. The historical powerhouse is reimagined as a demon slayer. Similar to real-life Tubman, the titular character is dedicated to freeing enslaved people. But instead of sending dogs, her opposition sends vampires, werewolves, witches and demons. But that can never stop Black girl magic. With a stake ready to strike and two katanas set to slice, Ms. Tubman proves that she’s a force to be reckoned with—again. The first issue of the David Crownson-penned series can be found here.
Destroyer (BOOM Studios)
Imagine if the mothers of slain Black teens had the power to bring their children back to life. That’s what Victor LaValle’s Destroyer examines as the main character, Dr. Jo Baker, discovers the secret of resurrection. Because of this, Destroyer is billed to be a bridge between the Black Lives Matter movement and the classic horror story, Frankenstein. But Dr. Jo Baker isn’t just trying to bring her son back to life; she’s seeking revenge against the system for having him die in the first place. But it may not go as smoothly as planned since the original Frankenstein monster is looming in the background. Check out the first issue here.
Ultimates 2 (Marvel Comics)
Black Panther isn’t the only one rolling with “the crew” these days. In Ultimates 2, the King of Wakanda teams up with Captain Marvel and newcomers to the Marvel universe. This includes two Black superheroes—Blue Marvel and Spectrum—as well as Ms. America, a Latin-American LGBTQ+ hero. It’s one of the few ensembles with no white male superheroes to be found—a rarity anywhere. Together they fight big bads and triumph over evil. And unlike the short-lived Black Panther and the Crew, this series is luckily (for us) ongoing! With eight issues and counting, you can catch up here.
Catalyst Prime (Lion Forge Comics)
If you’re a fan of the Milestone Media era with Static Shock, Icon and other Black superheroes who encompassed an entire universe in the ‘90s, you’re in for a treat. Former Milestone editor Joseph Illidge is attempting to pick up the mantle from company’s founder, Dwyane McDuffie, and do it all over again. Illidge released the first issue from his universe, Catalyst Prime, last month, which will spin off into other comic book titles featuring Black heroes. This includes Noble, an astronaut who returns to Earth with superpowers but no recollection of who he is or how he got them, and Superb, which follows a young Black girl with superpowers. Get started in the universe by nabbing Catalyst Prime for free here and issues #1 and #2 of Noble here. As these series continue, others like Superb will be added on to flesh out the universe.
Shadowman (Valiant Comics)
Another Black superhero is gearing up for the big screen. Earlier this month, Valiant Comics announced its hero, Shadowman, will have his own solo film, too. The series follows Jack Boniface, a jazz musician who’s possessed by a mysterious power that gives him superhuman abilities. Based in New Orleans, the young hero naturally moves to protect The Big Easy. Although Shadowman premiered in 1992, he received a new series in 2012. And now that the film has been announced, there’s no better time than now to catch up before it hits theaters. Check out the 2012 series here.