One of the best parts of Black Panther was Michael B. Jordan’s Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, easily one of the most layered, complex villains the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever given us. Though Killmonger has always had a high placement in the King of Wakanda’s rogues gallery, he’s never been a particular poster bad guy in the comics. Likely motivated by the movie character’s success, that’s now set to change, as the antagonist is about to get his own solo series.
As revealed by Marvel.com, Killmonger is written by What If? X-Men‘s Bryan Edward Hill with Juan Ferreyra on art duties. The first issue goes on sale December 5th and you can check out Ferreyra’s epic cover in the gallery below, which features a design of the character that hues very close to Jordan’s cinematic version.
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Hill explained to Marvel.com that he wanted to hone in on the tragedy at the heart of the antagonist and his rivalry with T’Challa. Rather than someone guilty of doing wrong to others, Hill sees Killmonger as someone who’s been failed by his society and his people.
“I wanted to explore the choices and the failures that lead a person to dedicate their life to revenge, and how that happens. Because with Erik, I feel like it’s really a tragedy. It’s a story of a guy who was failed a lot by Wakanda in certain ways, by the people he met outside of Wakanda, by his own conscience in other ways, and I wanted to paint a portrait of that. Because to me, the iconic fight between Erik Killmonger and T’Challa is tragic. It’s something that shouldn’t happen. It’s a conflict that’s borne from a tragic misunderstanding and a young man who was violently taken from his home.”
Though he couldn’t say too much about the content of the upcoming series, Hill teased that the comic will explore Killmonger’s origins somewhat, explaining how he went from being an idealistic young man who could’ve been a true force for good to being a much darker person than he should’ve been.
“I can say that the events of the stories, for the most part, begin with Erik graduating from MIT. Like all stories, it begins with him having a fork in the road in front of him. He’s a young man who could have a successful and peaceful life if he could just put away his desire for revenge. In this case, he’s really focused on [villain Ulysses] Klaw and the men that took him from Wakanda, and also punishing Wakanda itself for its failures.
We begin the story with him making that choice to step away from one potential future and step into another that speaks to more of his darker nature. For me, that’s what a tragedy is, really. Something isn’t tragic unless you can see a way that it could have worked out better. … It’s about a fall of a person that should have been something much better than what he wound up being, and the story is about how he winds up in that place.”
Killmonger hasn’t actually been a regular player in the comics universe since Christopher Priest’s run on Black Panther back in the early 2000s, in which his latest quest for vengeance ended with him being killed by Monica Rambeau. His son then took up an oath to get his revenge on T’Challa, much like his father. Presumably, Hill’s new arc will wipe that storyline away and start afresh.
Chalk that up as speculation for now, but be sure to look out for Killmonger #1 in comic stores this December.