Marvel Comic reports that the death of civil rights leader Ezra Keith sends shockwaves through his Harlem community and beyond. In fact, the mystery of his death in police custody proves so astonishing that a group of famous heroes comes together to figure out what happened.
That’s how Black Panther And The Crew kicks off from writers Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey along with artist Butch Guice. The King of Wakanda finds himself joined by Misty Knight, Luke Cage, Manifold, and his ex-wife Storm as they all seek to find out what happened to Keith.
We talked with Guice about mixing the mystery and super hero elements together, crafting this tale with Coates and Harvey, and figuring out how the cast looks both in an out of costume.
Marvel.com: Black Panther’s a great character in that he looks equally at home running around Wakanda as he does in Harlem. What would you say about his design that makes that so?
Butch Guice: Artistically, Black Panther is a very clean design. He’s got a little more detail in his costume now than in previous years but he is still essentially wearing a form-fitting masked body suit, which puts all the visual focus on how you handle his body language, athletic movement, [and] scene lighting. The character has been illustrated by some of the very best in the past so there is a high bar set in how to handle him.
Marvel.com: This book also stars Misty Knight, Storm, Luke Cage, and Manifold. How do these characters play off of one another both in the quieter moments and the more action oriented ones?
BG: It is a great mix of characters—lots of variety in body types and personality—so at least for me, part of the pleasure of working on the book is playing with the variety I have within the team. One of the real joys of the job for me is deciphering characters, figuring out little subtle things about the way they move or dress or express themselves in conversation, and then trying to fully realize those extra layers of depth in the art.
Marvel.com: Of this group, Manifold’s the newest character. Were there any challenges in getting him down from an artistic perspective?
BG: Not really. I was actually more familiar with Manifold than some of the others, having drawn him briefly during my run on (Secret Avengers) a couple of years back. He’s got a great visual look thanks in part to his aboriginal background, especially when he is in street clothes.
Marvel.com: At its heart, this book sounds like a murder mystery, at least at first. Would you say that’s accurate and do you enjoy working within that genre while also bringing in the big super hero elements?
BG: I’m a big fan of mystery fiction so it is a lot of fun. The mystery/street clothes side of the book is in many ways more artistically challenging, but a heck of a lot more fun to draw than the super hero side. Not to say the super hero stuff isn’t fun. I enjoy the way one side of the book spills over into the other and then back again. It really is a joy watching Ta-Nehisi and Yona weave everything together so skillfully.
Marvel.com: Harlem has such a legendary status in the real world as well as in the Marvel Universe. Do you enjoy working in a more real world-based environment like that?
BG: Oh yes. I have always enjoyed trying to establish a real “sense of place” in my assignments. On occasion, if you are drawing something more fantasy or science fiction oriented, you have to build everything from the ground up; and other times, like now, you have a vibrant rich backdrop handed to you. Harlem really is another character in this book—probably the main character.
Marvel.com: How has it been working with Ta-Nehisi and Yona on the book so far?
BG: As enjoyable and exciting as you might imagine; loads of fun filled with artistic variety and atmosphere. I’m excited to be part of the team and only hope my own efforts somehow keep up with the writing.
Black Panther And The Crew #1 dives into the mystery presented by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey and Butch Guice on April 12, 2017