Black Panther: Wakanda Forever + Ironheart Writer Eve L. Ewing | Crooked Media
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November 11, 2022
X-Ray Vision
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever + Ironheart Writer Eve L. Ewing

In This Episode

On this episode of X-Ray Vision, Jason Concepcion and Rosie Knight ingest some heart-shaped herb! Starting in the Airlock (1:58), Jason and Rosie dive deep (deeep) into the waters of Talocan, the streets of Boston, and, of course, the jungles of Wakanda for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, recapping the film and discussing breakout performances, Shuri’s character arc, and more. Then, in a return of the Omnibus (54:22) Jason – with Rosie’s Footnotes™ – unpacks the origins of Afrofuturism in and out of comics. In the Hive Mind (1:13:08), X-Ray Vision is thrilled to welcome Eve L. Ewing – author, academic, poet, and writer of the acclaimed Ironheart comics – to discuss how comics led to her birth, the joys and struggles of writing, attempting to draw, seeing Riri Williams come to life on screen, and much more.


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Check out more of Eve’s amazing work at her website!


Ironheart Vol. 1: Those With Courage – By Eve L. Ewing, Luciano Vecchio, Kevin Libranda, and more.


Jan Švankmajer – Czech multimedia artist, whose work has included stop motion animation.


How to Write an Autobiographical Novel (2018) – Written by Alexander Chee. Available here.


The Case for Reparations (2014) – An essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic.


The Bear (2022) – An FX on Hulu series created by Christopher Storer set in a flailing Italian Beef sandwich shop in Chicago.


Reginald Hudlin – Director, screenwriter, comic-book writer, producer and more, known for a multitude of projects alongside his brother Warrington.


Ms. Marvel Team-Up (2019) – Written by Eve L. Ewing, pencils and inks by Joey Vazquez, colors by Felipe Sobreiro, letters by Clayton Cowles.


And for those of you interested in learning more about Afrofuturism, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will be launching a major exhibition on the subject in March, 2023. Put it on your calendars.




Jason Concepcion Warning. This podcast contains spoilers for Black Panther Wakanda Forever. Hello, my name is Jason Concepcion and welcome to X-ray Vision, the Crooked podcast where we dive deep, all the way to the bottom of the ocean, into your favorite shows, movies, comics and pop culture in this episode in the Airlock, we’re going to be diving deep into Black Panther Wakanda Forever. Rosie and I are going to talk about the characters, talk about the themes, talk about our thoughts about it, talk about some of the history. It’s going to be fun. A return of the Omnibus segment. We’re going to talk about Wakanda, the Black Panther and the Afrofuturism esthetic movement. In the hivemind, we will be joined by author, sociologist, professor, poet and writer of the acclaimed Ironheart comic for Marvel, Eve L. Ewing. I was just so excited for this. If you want to jump around, of course, check the show notes for the timestamps. Joining me today is the writer comics encyclopedia. She is the heart shaped earth, the great Rosie Knight.


Rosie Knight It’s me, I’m here.


Jason Concepcion Rosie, How are you?


Rosie Knight Yeah, this is so exciting. I mean, most anticipated movie of the year, probably. And here we are about to break it all down and talk about some of the amazing creatives who made it possible and talk about this wild movie. And, of course, like first over Namor.


Jason Concepcion Namor so. Okay, let’s get into it. First up, recapping Black Panther, Wakanda Forever. And. We’re stepping out of the airlock and into Talokan to discuss the latest installment of the MCU, the last film in phase four, Black Panther, Wakanda Forever. Here we go. The last film in Marvel’s Phase four, which is a wild thing to say. It opens in Wakanda, where in Shuri’s lab. The princess is frantically trying to synthesize a replacement for the heart shaped herb, which was destroyed by Killmonger, of course, after he seized power in the first film. And Shuri needs this because T’Challa is terminally ill. The herb is his only chance to survive. She pushes through a formula to production. It’s maybe only 30% effective, Griot, her A.I. tells her. But before she can rush it to the king’s bedside, Queen Ramonda appears and the king has passed. You know, this was the big question, right, was how the how are they going to handle it? And I thought they handled it with appropriate grace and and real sadness. I mean, there’s a real sadness. And there’s a real sadness.


Rosie Knight The and there is a space within this for the actors and the friends of Chadwick to mourn Chadwick while mourning T’Challa. After this, we get this huge, you know, funeral scene. It’s a celebration. It’s a mourning. And then, boom, a year later and we see the fallout.


Jason Concepcion One year later, French commandos are raiding a Wakandan science facility. They force the workers there to open up a vault, but it is a trap. Out Stride, Okoye, Ayo, Aneka and other Dora Milaje who are who are disguised as as the scientists there. And they easily best these commandos. Later, at a closed session of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, American and French officials are just tearing into Queen Ramonda. They are saying that Wakanda has not lived up to its obligations to the international community, I guess Wakanda had promised to to share vibranium technology at some point in at .


Rosie Knight The end of Black Panther. And this is one of the the spanners that was thrown into the works with everything, like the tragedies that happened during the two movies. The End of Black Panther opens with this idea of Wakanda, being a nation that will be open, will be part of the global community, will share technology, was going to open a STEM school in Oakland and you know, that was influenced by Killmonger.


Jason Concepcion But that doesn’t mean I’m going to give you vibranium.


Rosie Knight Doesn’t mean I’m going to give you vibranium. And also like a greedy. They’re greedy and it’s going to cause a big problem for everyone.


Jason Concepcion Now, of course, vibranium as we are going to see over the course of this movie and as we saw in Black Panther is a it’s a wonder substance. It’s not only a metal, right. It has a staggering number of applications. It’s easily workable. It can be an indestructible substance, but it can also absorb, store and amplify energy. It can give people superpowers on and on and on and on. And the rest of the world is like, Hey, share this stuff. And Wakanda rightly has said no.


Rosie Knight Yeah. Especially because they keep talking about how it can be used to make weapons. They they’re acting like.


Jason Concepcion That’s what they would love to do.  Yes.


Rosie Knight But really, that’s what they want it for. They want to make weapons of mass destruction with Wakanda, with vibranium.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. And the queen says we’re not going to do that because the rest of the world can’t be trusted with vibranium. Whether Wakanda as ever, actually, again, formally agreed to share this substance. Unclear. But we’d love to learn more about, like, why the world thinks this. Whatever the case, we all understand she made the right decision, and certainly the world does. When she then parades the captured commandos into the hall, the chastened French ambassador, it’s unclear whether the French ambassador would have had any idea that this was happening.


Rosie Knight It’s unclear who it is, but they say that it was someone who was from a member state. And then, the French ambassador who’d been kind of really pushing for this.


Jason Concepcion Is like, oh, shit, I guess.


Rosie Knight And like.


Jason Concepcion I guess we’ve done bad stuff. And the Queen promises a harsh response if the world ever again violates Wakandan sovereignty. Later, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, there is a boat of CIA scientists protected by, as Tony might say, J-SOP, guys, they have discovered a deposit of vibranium deep under the under the ocean. It is at this point the only known deposit of the material outside of Wakanda. Scientists in diving suits are going in for a closer look. But soon, mysterious warriors are appearing out of the waves. And one of these with wings on his feet, snatches a helicopter out of the air, hurls it into the sea. And we can we’re led to believe that all the scientists, everybody on this boat has been neutralized.


Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah.


Jason Concepcion Killed.


Rosie Knight And we hear a siren song, and we see these men just throwing themselves off the ocean, off the boat into the ocean.


Jason Concepcion And it’s not just a brute attack. They’re these these people are able to somehow take over people’s minds and draw them into the water.


Rosie Knight Sonic hypnotization that.


Jason Concepcion Like the siren song of it’s ancient Greek mythology.


Rosie Knight Baby which like I’m really glad that they’re leaning into that because everyone’s always said it. It’s a merman.


Jason Concepcion In Wakanda, The Queen is worried about her daughter, Princess Shuri. Shuri is taking T’challa’s death very, very hard. She blames herself essentially for not not being able to save him. Queen Ramonda takes Shuri to the bush, and there the queen burns her ceremonial funeral gown, and she wants Shuri to do the same. But Shuri can’t move on. She can’t let go. She says that if anything’s going to burn, it’s going to be the world. Which is alarming. At that moment, a man with winged feet emerges from the river nearby. It’s our friend Namor. We get a good look at him now.


Rosie Knight He’s looking good.


Jason Concepcion He’s looking really, really great. He somehow managed to evade Wakanda’s cutting edge, cutting, cutting edge border defenses, of which we have seen over the course of, you know, various movies by now. He tells them that his nation, Talokan also has vibranium. They, too, kept themselves hidden from the world, have kept themselves successfully hidden from the world. But Wakanda’s Wakanda’s emergence and her decision to reveal the existence of Vibranium has the knock on effect of that is it’s awakened the world’s greed for vibranium and.


Rosie Knight They want to find vibranium. They want to find the source of it for themselves. They want to find new sources, which is going to definitely play in to the future of the MCU as well as just the ramifications of Namor now existing and being rightfully pissed.


Jason Concepcion So led by brand new technology that can detect that can detect vibranium. The U.S. military has come poking around in the ocean near Talokan’s hiding place and Namor says Wakanda has to take responsibility for the mess that it helped create. Wakanda should ally itself with Talokan and demonstrate that friendship. How? By killing that scientist or capturing that scientist and bringing them to Talokan so that Talokan can then kill the scientist. And it’s either that or Namor promises that we’re going to attack Wakanda, bring it to its knees. Okay, bye. And then Namor disappears under the water and he leaves the undersea vibranium detector.


Rosie Knight Mysteriously.


Jason Concepcion For Wakanda to to kind of investigate into and analyze.


Rosie Knight I just have to say he’s he’s old man. He’s rightfully angry, in my opinion.


Jason Concepcion He’s very angry.


Rosie Knight He might be he’s coming to them with a little bit of aggression. But this is the first of many times that Namor makes the correct offer to Wakanda that they should ally themselves.


Jason Concepcion They should ally themselves.


Rosie Knight And nobody wants to listen to Namor. And so much of the horror of this movie could be absolutely avoided if Wakanda was just real about the outside world and the strength of allying with Talokan.


Jason Concepcion We will we will unpack that later. I have I have I think one of the wonderful subtexts of this movie is that Wakandan leadership. Listen, we love the Queen. I love Shuri, T’Challa, may he rest in peace. I do think that specifically, post the Wakandan reveal to the world. I think Wakandan decision making has been spotty at best.


Rosie Knight But that’s the problem of a monarchy, baby. We’re going to get into it.


Jason Concepcion That’s the problem of the monarchy. You know, should we have just been like okay, Killmonger is the guy now and I guess we got to do everything he said.


Rosie Knight And like the Dora Milaje on his side.


Jason Concepcion I think there there needed to be mechanisms by which to say no, we’re not just going to destroy all the heart shape herb now. Like, wait, hold on a second.


Rosie Knight It seems bad.


Jason Concepcion It seems bad. Okoye gets the identity of the scientist from her contact in the CIA, Wakanda’s man in the CIA, Everett Ross, the CIA agent and colonizer, has been feeding Okoye intelligence for years, apparently. The scientists name is *musical notes*, Riri Williams, a 19 year old student at M.I.T., Shuri, against the Queen’s wishes, goes with Okoye on the ostensibly snatch and grab, a kidnaping mission. Right. But Shuri is saying, hey, I’m a brilliant scientist also. Maybe I can talk to this person and convince them to help us, actually. They confront Riri.  The sudden appearance of a princess of Wakanda and an a general of the Wakandan military, lets Riri know that actually this is very serious. Like Riri is very concerned. Oh, shit. Did I piss off Wakanda? Yeah, but do you think you would like.


Rosie Knight I do want to say.


Jason Concepcion Something like that can detect vibranium.


Rosie Knight One of my favorite things is she’s like, Did you make this for the CIA? Shuri asks her, like, Why did you do that? And she’s like, No, I made it for homework. I made it for my metallurgy class. Like that lets you know that Riri is one of the most intelligent people in the Marvel Universe, in the MCU. She did this, she created this thing as a as a homework assignment.


Jason Concepcion As a homework assignment.


Rosie Knight It took her a couple of months. It wasn’t even that deep.


Jason Concepcion And one of the concerns raised by the the ambassadors to the U.N. is that this vibranium cannot be detect, detected by any existing technology. Metal detectors don’t pick it up. You can use it. You can make a bomb out of vibranium.


Rosie Knight A gun.


Jason Concepcion Bring it on and just walk it into the airport. Right. But here, Riri Williams has figured out a way to detect vibranium. So this is a big deal. She takes Shuri and Okoye to her lab nearby, but before she can show them to her, you know, her research into the the vibranium detector. The FBI surrounds the building. There is a big chase with Shuri and Okoye, you know, on the streets and Riri in her home brew Stark tech inspired Ironheart, Mark one battle suit, which gets its debut here. But on a bridge over the Charles River, the Talokanial ambush our trio of heroes. Okoye’s fighting skills are world class, of course, but the Talokanial are super, humanly strong, very, very hard to kill. And Shuri ends up convincing them to take her captive, along with Riri to their king so that she can argue for Riri’s life. Rosie, tell us more about Riri Williams.


Rosie Knight Yeah, I mean, this is such an exciting addition because this is probably one of, if not the quickest transitions we’ve seen from a character being introduced. Riri was introduced in 2016 as Invincible Iron Man number seven from Volume three, created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato. So that’s only six years between then and now. Her making her MCU debut in then. She’s kind of like what we see in the movie, though. In the comics, she was a little bit younger. She was 15. She’s an MIT student, super genius, who in the comics built her own version of Tony Stark’s Mark 41 suit as a pet project. And she did that while he was missing, presumed dead, and he was actually undercover in Madripoor. And that was in the lead up to the road to Civil War two. And she would eventually appear in that event. She was in some other comics that were tied to it, like Guardians of the Galaxy, but wouldn’t debut as Ironheart until the first issue of the fourth volume of Invincible Iron Man, which was that famous cover where she’s in the suit and it says, you know, ironheart on the cover. That story stuck to this idea. She’s from Chicago. It’s got a little bit of early Miles Morales ness to her a.k.a.. Her story was quite it leaned into some tropes. She’d been in trouble at school. The police were going to arrest her because she, I will say salvaged, the parts to make the Ironheart suit. So really the version of Riri that we are seeing now is the Eve Ewing, expanded holistic vision that was introduced in the 2018 Solo Ironheart series with originally drawn by Kevin LeBrandon and Luciano Vecchio. And Jeff did some pencils and layouts, and that was where Ironheart became a marvel legend. That was the story that made people fall in love with her. That was the story that showed that she was a super genius, who was also a normal teenager who had this unbelievable relationship with Tony Stark. That was this mentorship, this this beautiful space where she could be the smartest, most impressive version of herself with someone who was her peer. We know in the MCU, Tony is dead. R.I.P. sorry to that man, but in in Eve’s in Eve’s Ironheart story in issue nine, Tony arranges for. It for me to visit Shuri in Wakanda. And obviously what we’re seeing in the movie here is leaning more into that Riri’s relationship is not one of a mentor with Tony in the MCU. It is one of a burgeoning partnership, an alliance with Wakanda, with Shuri, with one of the only people in the whole of the MCU who can go toe to toe with her on an intelligence level. And it’s very exciting to just see her be thrown into this wild world. And as you said, you know, about to go to Talokan.


Jason Concepcion Well, in a vast cavern under the ocean, Shuri meets K’uk’ulkan, who the Talokanial worship as their God and whose enemies call Namor when he. We’ll pause there. Because I just want to say that when, when and when Namor explains the origin of his name. I was like, whoever came up with this is the smartest person.


Rosie Knight Yeah. 10 to 10.


Jason Concepcion Ten out of ten.


Rosie Knight Unbelievable.


Jason Concepcion We’re going to get to.


Rosie Knight Yeah. Just one of the coolest origin of a name. One of the most small recontextualize nations which this series, the Black Panther movies have been known for. But it is. It’s like gasp out loud. Good.


Jason Concepcion It was amazing. So he tells Shuri of the history of himself and his people over 500 years ago, Native people around what is now called the Yucatan Peninsula, where dying of smallpox brought to the land by Spanish conquistadors. One of the shamans of the indigenous people has a vision that leads them to find a plant in a cavern underwater.


Rosie Knight Looks very much like the heart shaped herb.


Jason Concepcion Right? It’s slightly different in color, maybe a little blue in color, but looks to be the same. And the people create a kind of potion out of this plant. They ingest it. It protects them against the smallpox, but it also turns their skin blue and takes away from them the ability to to breathe air, but gives them the ability to breathe underwater. Namor’s mother, who is pregnant at the time, had to be persuaded to take the plant. But she does. And her child is born with amazing abilities that are beyond what the telekinesis have. And he becomes the leader, the king, the God, in fact, to his people. Years later, following his mother’s dying wish, Kukulkan returns to his mother’s human village to lay her remains to rest. And there he finds that the Spanish have enslaved the local indigenous people. In in retribution, he slays them.


Rosie Knight And he’s like eight, by the way. He looks like he’s eight, but he’s probably like 50 or something, like. But he looks like a baby.


Jason Concepcion So he slays the conquistadors. And as one, a dying priest looks upon him, you know, with fear. The priest says that this this boy describes the boy as El Nino Sin Amor, the boy without love. And from this Namor, Kukulkan takes his name of war. And I was like, Holy shit, that’s good.


Rosie Knight So clever. And my favorite thing about it is like, at first it sounds a little bit like emo, and it’s kind of like he has no love because his heart’s broken and his mother is not there.


Jason Concepcion There is no love for the surface world.


Rosie Knight He has no love for the surface world. So that’s like, the hardest shit in the MCU.


Jason Concepcion I could not believe it.


Rosie Knight So good. I’m just obsessed.


Jason Concepcion So good, yes.


Rosie Knight And to be able to recontextualize like we haven’t even really gone in. Namor is, you know, one of Marvel’s oldest characters debuted in, like, 1939 and. Has throughout history been entangled in some of the more problematic and racist depictions of characters of color and like Marvel’s own fear of especially like Asian communities and this idea of an Asian superpower. And ironically, some of that actually makes the old normal stuff. Some of the panels are quite radical, and you see this kind of like interesting subversion of what they thought they were doing.


Jason Concepcion Times of war against the white race.


Rosie Knight Yeah, like he’s on his mission to kill the white man or whatever. Like but, I love that they took this name that was given to him, you know, the submariner, Namor always been quite a character of people, been always wearing some pants. He’s got wings on his. He’s quite silly, he’s quite campy. And to create an origin for that name that is so directly linked to this brilliant recontextualize ation and this very what feels very authentic. To the conversations that are being had and the realities of the horror of colonialism. It’s just so cool like that. That is just a level of craft and detail and writing that just cannot go uncelebrated. So I’m glad that we was. I’m glad we brought it up. It’s so good.


Jason Concepcion Beautiful. The queen travels to Haiti where Nakia is running a school. She has lived there, apparently since the blip devastated by the child’s death. She just couldn’t bring herself to return to Wakanda, not even for his funeral. The queen convinces Nakia to to, you know, bring back her super spy skills and track down Princess Shuri, who is who is missing and in the hands of the Talokanial. Meanwhile, Everett Ross’s new boss, The Contessa, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, is all over his ass. The CIA director wants Riri found. She wants to know how the Wakandans, because who else would do this, tracked her down. And the Contessa also wants to start thinking about how we can respond, how we can start destabilizing Wakanda. Also, she’s Ross’s ex-Wife.


Rosie Knight Very interesting because in the.


Jason Concepcion Very, very interesting.


Rosie Knight How romantic entanglement was with Nick Fury.


Jason Concepcion Nicholas Fury.


Rosie Knight And we were very interested to see if that was going to come up. But it seems that they’ve decided to do like these little CIA romance. Terrible. Hate it. Hate it for both of them. But you know what? Ross comes out of this looking better of the pair.


Jason Concepcion I will say also in the annals of we were right. It’s not quite we were right. But over the course of this movie, our theory that the Contessa’s plan is to create the superhero team that follows orders, you know, is is burnished by her actions in this movie.


Rosie Knight And we, you know, we we definitely got some we were right stuff that we got into but that’s true also very interesting to see that something I was wary about that we’ve talked about is like the thunderbolts has to be a villain team. It doesn’t really make sense otherwise. But the way that they built in and I understand the expanding this Black Panther universe to have to fit into the rest of the MCU, I think, is some of the stuff people have been struggling the most with with like the focus on Ross and Contessa and I totally agree. But what I did really like credit to Ryan and his his co script. She’s a villain like, no question.


Jason Concepcion Flat out.


Rosie Knight Absolute villain. I feel like in the TV shows they were doing more of a is she just like a different way of running things? But no, she’s the director of the CIA and she sucks.


Jason Concepcion She’s putting together the the Avengers team, quote unquote Avengers team, that is soldiers that are people that will just, like, decapitate people in the street. Ross finds Shuri’s beads, communication beads under some wreckage at the attack site in Boston, and he uses them to warn the Queen that the US government might be preparing to do something to move against Wakanda in some sort of way. In Talokan, under the sea, Namor takes Shuri to Talokan. And the culture and the beauty of the place and the obvious strength and unity of its people just blows her away. She asks the King if she can take Riri back to Wakanda and she promises that there she’s going to advocate strongly on Talokan’s behalf. Namor is like, I’ve got a counter deal. Wakanda allies itself with Talokan and side by side we wage war against the nations of the surface world.


Rosie Knight And he makes some good points.


Jason Concepcion He says defang them so they can never again threaten either of us.


Rosie Knight And enslave us and oppression us. But yes, He makes a good point.


Jason Concepcion Our take our resources.


Rosie Knight Shuri


Jason Concepcion Our colonizers.


Rosie Knight Shuri, he’s not necessarily she. I feel like this is a character B that I understand for the movie sake, but I do feel like Shuri would be the one person who would be most open to this. But she is quite horrified because she’s like, Well, lots people didn’t do anything bad up there and I don’t know if one would want to do that.


Jason Concepcion I think in Shuri’s, you know, listen. Alig, I think is a good idea. We. Waging war against the entire surface world which is very in line with Namor’s character history and a thing that he has done time and time and time and time again in the comics for for various reasons. Some of them actually pretty just reasons like I get it. Would? There are other ways to do it. Like, I don’t need like, you know, to Shuri’s credit the idea of just jumping straight out to a state of active warfare against the entire world. Probably not a great idea. But also you can see how this is going to lead the nations of the world to hate superpowered people and in particular, superpowered people like Namor.


Rosie Knight Who, by the way.


Jason Concepcion Who are mutants.


Rosie Knight I was going to say we should say this. We should say this. We’ve heard the word mutation. We’ve been waiting for someone to be called a mutant. Namor.


Jason Concepcion He does it.


Rosie Knight Says. I was a mutant. He says I am a mutant. He says the word he means in the context. And by the way, to me.


Jason Concepcion Yes.


Rosie Knight And the truth is that, you know, Jason, you really smartly brought this up in pre-pro, but like. Namor is not the only mutant. He might see himself that way because he is a mutant in comparison to his people who he can be above land, he can be underwater, they can only exist under the water.


Jason Concepcion Right.


Speaker 2 But, his whole community are mutants. And apparently that mutation.


Jason Concepcion Mutated.


Rosie Knight From a vibranium, rich soil and the plant which allowed them to become mutants. This is very interesting, and I think there is a world where we see that come into play down the line to introduce more mutated characters. We know that we’re not going to get an Inhumans in this world. Ms.. Marvel kind of proved that we’re not there yet. This is going to be a mutant situation. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see a version of the plant or vibranium rich soil or something that could be turned into some kind of mist, almost like a terragen mist and weaponized to create multiple.


Jason Concepcion That’s a great point.


Rosie Knight Mutants.


Jason Concepcion Because I think what we’re seeing, you know, they didn’t kind of spell this out, but my guess for why Namor has his abilities is he had the X gene just passed to him by his parents. Right. And something about the active ingredient in this plant, this vibranium based plant awakened that and and supercharged his powers. All of which is to say mutants are here and they are here now in vast numbers, in the form of the Talokan.


Rosie Knight We’re talking about thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of people, maybe more, living in Talokan.


Jason Concepcion As a symbol of Namor’s word, right. And, you know, the generosity of his offer, you know, in his view, he gives Shuri a bracelet which is woven from the very plant which gave the Talokan all their powers.


Rosie Knight Belongs his mother. So this is a very intimate moment. And I will say, they must have chemistry tested the fuck of Leticia and Tenoch, who plays Namor because there is such an unbelievable spark between them, these children of these hidden nations.


Jason Concepcion Respect.


Rosie Knight Respect. But there’s like a.


Jason Concepcion A bond.


Rosie Knight There’s like a slight flirtation, but it’s not necessarily romantic. It’s more of a it’s like they spark each other’s curiosity. And the whole time I was watching, I was just thinking like, when Sue Storm comes into the MCU, Tenoch is going to be it’s happened and do it in the first movie. It needs to be that because that is. The way that they play with that relationship. His performance is the standout for me in this film.


Jason Concepcion He’s amazing.


Rosie Knight Mindblowing. He’s amazing. He’s established.


Jason Concepcion He’s everything you want.


Rosie Knight Charisma. There’s this danger, this relatability.


Jason Concepcion Arrogance, like real arrogance.


Rosie Knight Real arrogance, but based on, like, legit.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. For just reason.


Rosie Knight For just reason. But also because he is probably the most powerful person on earth apart from as he will learn, like the Black Panther, you know. So yeah, I was just blown away by him in that the Talokan stuff was really my, my favorite part of this movie. And I just kept thinking about him and Leticia was so good together in those small moments that they had. I was like, I need to see him with Sue Storm. I need to see him break up the marriage because Shuri’s a stronger person than me, I would have been like, Yes, let’s do the war. I’m cool with that man.


Jason Concepcion And we should add, unless unless we’re unless we find out that apocalypse is out here, which may might be the case. Right. This is the first mutant, this is the first mutant.


Rosie Knight And then they made him 500 years old. So you’re talking about a first mutant and it’s not 100 years old.  Not 120 years old. This is a mutant who has lived in what is essentially a secluded secret society. We were right. Secret societies are a huge deal going into Secret Wars. And not only that, but he potentially has a Morlocks esque community of secret mutants. So, look, all we’re saying is this is the secret society of mutants that nobody knew about even in the age of the Avengers. So there’s probably other secret societies of mutants that are hidden in this world.


Jason Concepcion Well, you know, 500 years, this also in the comics. Namor has this whole.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion History before his appearance, you know, fighting the Fantastic Four, you know, in the Silver Age of comics as a fighter in World War Two. All of which is to say is 500 years. Gives you a lot of back centuries that they could fill in in various ways. Is this the first time that Namor has has interacted with the surface world? I’m going to guess not. I’m going to guess there’s other things that we’re going to find out that he has been involved in. Later, Nakia, having discovered the site of Namor’s mother’s village, finds out where Shuri and Riri have been taken. And she she gets there, goes under the sea to the cavern where they’re being held. And she goes to break them out. She kills two Talokonial guards in the process. And Shuri is like, Oh my God, we got to save this person’s life. And Nakia is like, No, we have to leave right now. And Shuri knows that to take the lives of two Talokanial, like this means that war between the Talokanial and Wakanda is going to happen.


Rosie Knight And in Shuri’s defense, I love this. This is a true moment of leadership. She tries to use the Kimoyo beads to save the lives of the Talokanial guards and in one of the few mistakes that Nakia makes, because she’s generally like one of the smartest people in Wakanda, she doesn’t listen to Shuri. And that is like a heart breaking moment because it leads to this kind of huge conflict that could have been avoided.


Jason Concepcion Now, Wakanda steels itself for the blow. But when Namor arrives, the most advanced nation of the surface world, their defenses are completely worthless against only a handful of Namor’s warriors. Tidal waves devastate the capital city. Talokanial warriors leap from the backs of whales to lay waste to the streets. But all of this is a distraction to allow Namor to strike at Queen Ramonda. She gives her life to save Riri, and it’s a heartbreaking moment. Shuri finds her mother now passed. Like this has just happened moments before, and Namor, tells Shuri, mourn your dead. I’ll be back in a week. You’re a queen now. It’s your decision about how to lead the nation. Next. I’ll be back with your decision about whether you’re going to ally with my people. And if the answer is no. Just so you know, I’m going to when I come back in a week, it’s going to be at the head of my entire army, not just a handful of my warriors. As queen, Shuri just wants vengeance. We’ve heard, you know, earlier in the movie that she wanted the world to burn because of her feelings of the surrounding the death of T’Challa. And now this has sharpened those feelings to a really keen killing and dangerous edge. M’Baku tries to talk her out of it. You know, Wakandan’s, he he notes that the to the Talokanial consider Namor their god. If you kill their God, the war will never end. The war will be existential. It will be my children, my children’s children to go on. And it will go on and on and on until one of our nations perishes. And Shuri’s like that’s fine.


Rosie Knight She’s like, it was we can win the war and also just shout out Winston Duke so good. M’Baku still a stand out. There’s a great.


Jason Concepcion Still a  standout.


Rosie Knight One of the best moments like the biggest laugh moments in this really somber movie is like he walks into the council eating a carrot calls Okoye a bald headed demon. And it is like, our whole cinema just lost it. Share. Like, I want to see more M’Baku. I love him. I love that recontextualizing of the character. Winston Duke, you are king. Thank you. And without Winston Duke, I don’t know if we would have got, like, thick Namor. you know, I feel like.


Jason Concepcion Yes, I feel like we would have gotten like this cut cut Hemmsworthian  potentially.


Rosie Knight Winston changed to the idea of like what a Marvel character can look like. And, you know, people love him for it. And and he’s delightful. And I’m just so happy that that Namor is more in that mold of like a just like a chunky, strong guy. We need more of them.


Jason Concepcion I absolutely love it. Using the bracelet that Namor gave her, she successfully synthesizes, you know, a kind of heart shaped herb based on the Talokanial plant, which is a biochemical twin of the heart shaped herb. She takes that potion herself and goes to visit the ancestral plane. But it’s not the ancestral plane. She finds herself in the flooded throne room, a version, you know, the ancestral plane version of that.


Rosie Knight Very interesting that she wakes.


Jason Concepcion And then capital city.


Rosie Knight And she wakes up underwater after using the Talokanial plant. I think that we cannot underestimate.


Jason Concepcion That’s a great point.


Rosie Knight The importance of this essentially being a combined version of the heart shape herb and whatever the the plant of the Talokanial is. I’m very interested to see where that leads.


Jason Concepcion So. She finds herself in the throne room. She’s behind the throne. Someone sitting in it. She walks to the front of it and we’re thinking, it’s going to be the queen or it’s going to be T’Challa. It’s Killmonger.


Rosie Knight My cinema just absolutely lost its mind last night. I was, like, screaming. That was like, that’s the big, you know, the Spider-Man. There were so many of those moments. This is that moment where people just lost their mind. Michael B Jordan delivering as always. And I loved the reasoning of him being there.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, and Killmonger knows that Shuri wanted to see him.


Rosie Knight That’s why he’s there. She chose


Jason Concepcion She wanted to and he knows it’s because he is the one person who will agree with what she wants to do next, which is wipe out the Talokanial. Namor must die. And when she wakes up. Nakia is like, Where’d you go? Who’d you see? Would you talk? You know, what was the ancestral plane like? Who’d you talk to? And Shuri’s like, I’m not talking about it.


Rosie Knight She’s like, I failed. And then she just, like, smashes up the lab and obviously has super strength. So it’s like, think it worked, babe.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, it worked. Valentina breaks into Everett Ross’s house to arrest him. She had the beads bugged from the very beginning, and everything Ross has told the Wakandans and Ross is like, Yeah, well, the Wakandans are awesome. And they saved my life, so. And they’re right. And so I guess I’m going to jail. Ross says it would be terrible to imagine what the United States, what other countries would do, but specifically the United States would do if it controlled vibranium all by itself. And then Contessa’s like, well, you’re going to prison for the rest of your life. And by the way, I dream of a day when we control Vibranium.


Rosie Knight That’s when you know.


Jason Concepcion We can do whatever want.


Rosie Knight It’s the villain moment. She’s obsessed with power. She’s obsessed with owning this resource, with colonizing Wakanda, and with using it for her own nefarious means.


Jason Concepcion And, by the way, a very a a very juicy and vibrant plot from various Marvel comics throughout the years, like the world is greedy for the resources that Wakanda has.


Rosie Knight And I think as well this is I’m not a huge fan of ever Ross in the MCU, but I do think this scene is the closest we’ve gotten to the Christopher Priest stuff that we talk about in the Omnibus. Where, it’s about Ross understanding who the Wakandans are, his awakening to them, and the sacrifice that he will make because he realizes what the right thing to do is. Most of I feel like that has been mostly a misunderstanding of his character in the MCU, but this is the closest I feel like that we get in this moment.


Jason Concepcion Shuri, now clad as the Black Panther, leads her people to war, and her plan is to take Riri’s detector out to sea, use it as bait to lure the Talokanial to attack, and then they’ll trap Namor inside like a flying microwave and they will dry his ass out. Here’s where I just want to put a pin in this and discuss it. So, you know, again, I think Wakanda needs better leadership at times. I think I think some of the I think some of the decision making process is not good. And. I would like to highlight that Riri’s plan is to fight the fish people on water.


Rosie Knight They could have just they could have literally just fought him on a different bit of land that wasn’t Wakanda. Like they could have used.


Jason Concepcion I mean, yeah.


Rosie Knight You didn’t need to fight him on water where all his people come in. They got crazy underwater technology. They have these un something that is really cool that this movie introduces and I think is very unique is these water bombs that kind of explode.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. They’re really cool.


Rosie Knight It’s really cool. I will say if you enjoy the Namor stuff here, you enjoy the Talokanial, please go and watch James Wan’s Aquaman. Because I do feel like that movie, this movie would not exist without that. And a lot of the stuff they do in that movie is definitely influential. But I really felt like the the idea of this. Talokanial technology and the bombs and everything is very unique and very visually beautiful. But why did she want to fight him at the sea? I guess. I would say.


Jason Concepcion I get that you had to lure him. But, fighting him  on the scene.


Rosie Knight I think the idea of and this is something I would have liked to see expanded a little bit, but it leans into Shuri’s comic book canon, especially the run when she becomes Black Panther. You know, the Reginald Hudlin run. She is at this point not making sensible decisions. She is.


Jason Concepcion She’s angry.


Rosie Knight She’s absolutely she’s obsessed with revenge and she’s consumed with that. And that leads her to make this very silly decision that does kind of end up working out.


Jason Concepcion But it kind of works.


Rosie Knight Not a great idea babe.


Jason Concepcion Well. Well, it kind of works, I would add. So there’s a big battle. Right. They go out to sea the Talokanial are alerted to the presence of this vibranium detector in the water. News gets to Namor. He leads his forces against them. Riri debuts the Iron Heart Mark II.


Rosie Knight Which she was building in a montage scene.


Jason Concepcion She was building.


Rosie Knight In Wakanda.


Jason Concepcion Very powerful. Looks super cool.


Rosie Knight Probably made of vibranium.


Jason Concepcion Yeah probably made a vibranium Okoye and Aneka fight in two brand new Shuri designed pieces of Wakandan battle armor also clearly like vibranium tech very powerful. Shuri gets Namor in the microwave and the two get separated from the main fight where Okoye, Ayo, Aneka, M’Baku and the rest of the Wakandans are at sea, trapped on their ship, fighting off the Talokanial. And I should add that, you know, though, the plan again, the plan, Shuri’s plan kind of works, what, like 800 Wakandans die in this.


Rosie Knight I was going to say by the end.


Jason Concepcion That they just get they get wiped out. There’s and there’s like 14 Wakandans left.


Rosie Knight Like 12 people who say Wakanda Forever. And I’m like, Babe, you could have avoided all of this.


Jason Concepcion You loss 800 people.


Rosie Knight Also I know you could have made more of that armor for like The Midnight Angel or whatever it was called, you know, like, it’s not the best plan.


Jason Concepcion So Shuri’s  Microwave plane crashes in the desert because Namor, even in a weakened state is extremely powerful. I mean.


Rosie Knight He has that. He has a spear made of raw vibranium.


Jason Concepcion Yes.


Rosie Knight Processed. And he uses it to crash a plane.


Jason Concepcion And he’s potentially, again, like as strong as the Hulk in the water. Probably stronger.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion You know, I guess the Hulk theoretically could get as strong as he wants, the angrier he gets. But like Hulk level class 100 level stregnth Namor has.


Rosie Knight They mentioned this very briefly, but I think it’s really interesting. Namor is covered in vibranium. They always say that everything that he wears his his his jewels, his is is kind of costume, whatever it is, that’s all covered in vibranium. So he has a similar energy signature power kind of vibe to a Black Panther who is wearing a vibranium suit.


Jason Concepcion So they fight in the desert and it is a brutal, brutal fight. But even a dried out, partially weakened Namor is incredibly powerful. More powerful than the Black Panther. He impales her on his vibranium spear and then goes to stagger back to sea. Shuri frees herself and the two square off again. We get the fuck we get. We get Namor saying imperious Rex in his in his language and it was like yeah.


Rosie Knight That’s his famous comic book battle cry. That’s it’s it’s iconic because everyone’s like, what does that even mean?


Jason Concepcion And no one knows what it means.


Rosie Knight It really got into it recently. But this shows the absolute power of this movie, which is this word, these combination of words that so comic book and so pulpy. When Tenoch says it in the Talokanial language and looks at, kind of looks towards the screen, it feels just like, fuck, like we’re seeing something unbelievable here.


Jason Concepcion It was so, so cool. Shuri, then you think they’re going to fight again, but then Shuri crosses her arms and says Wakanda Forever and she triggers the blasters of her crashed ship like the thrusters and just bakes Namor And finally.


Rosie Knight Very, very brutal.


Jason Concepcion Some baked fish here, maybe with a little breadcrumb on top. It’ll be delicious. Shuri then stands over Namor. He is. He could die potentially right now, just as Killmonger, just, you know, the moment that Killmonger described in her vision in the ancestral plane, it’s here now. Shuri then reflects on everything that she is lost and she hears the queen telling her that now she needs to show Namor who she is.


Rosie Knight And this is a huge deal because Shuri doesn’t believe the ancestral plane exists. She barely believes that the Killmonger thing was real. She just thinks it’s something she needed to see. And we see Ramonda in the traditional ancestral plane, talking to Shuri, saying, show him who you are.


Jason Concepcion She stands over him and she makes him this offer. She will, she, as queen, ally Wakanda with the Talokanial. The Wakandans will protect the seas for the Talokanial, protect the surface, you know, around where Talokan is.


Rosie Knight Will keep their secrets.


Jason Concepcion Keep their secrets, but Namor must yield, promise to stop pursuing Rir, and promise to not wage war against the surface world. Namor yields and the Talokanial return home.


Rosie Knight Yeah. There’s this really. This is one of my most powerful, like, chills moments. They fly down to, the Wakandans that’s about to be killed. There’s only 14 of them left. And they, Namor and Shuri come down on this plane together and they sort of, you know, they say


Jason Concepcion 800 Wakandans fucking dead.


Rosie Knight Dead. And they say, like, Talokanial rise. Wakanda Forever and Talokanial go home. This shows really I have to say on your point, the monarchy of Wakanda has a problem. Yeah, because the real truth is Shuri could have avoided that 800 deaths by just having a little convo making this offer before something. I feel like, but I understand that Namor needed to see the strength of the Black Panther.


Jason Concepcion He needed to see that the stregnth and resolve.


Rosie Knight As an ally. But still, R.I.P. to those Wakandans .


Jason Concepcion I will say this, it will be a problem going forward. There will be hard line factions of both. It’ll congeal and the will convince go. That’s it. No, this is not over. Certainly the Wakandans are going to say we some Wakandans are going to say we lost how many soldiers and now we just let it go.


Rosie Knight And Queen Ramonda.


Jason Concepcion We pursue this. They attacked our capital city. We lost the queen and now 800 soldiers dead. No, we’re pursuing this to the end. So this is going to be an issue going forward. Wakanda rebuilds. Riri returns to M.I.T., but the ironheart armor has to stay in Waakanda,that’s pretty wise. Nakia returns to Haiti. In Talokan, Numora is giving Namor shit for kneeling to the Wakandans and he’s like, No, trust me, this is fucking great, because here’s why we’re allied with the strongest nation in the surface world by far, and one day the rest of the surface world is going to attack Wakanda.


Rosie Knight They’re isolated. They have no friends.


Jason Concepcion They have no we are their only friend. And they will wage war against Wakanda. And when that happens, Wakanda and Talokan together will defeat the surface world.


Rosie Knight I love that. Great plan.


Jason Concepcion Shuri blows off her official coronation at Warrior Falls to go to Haiti, and there she burns her funeral garb just as her mother wanted her to. In America, Okoye frees Everett Ross from custody. He is coming back to Wakanda with everyone. And in the stinger in Haiti, Shuri burns her funeral garb, and Nakia introduces her to her son, T’Challa son, Prince T’Challa, who looks to be about six years old. What a movie. Your quick thoughts.


Rosie Knight Yeah, for very emotional, beautiful cinematography, great performances. I my biggest takeaway is Namor. I absolutely adored the Talokanial stuff. I really want to know more about Namor. I think it’s set him up as a true you know, we talked about this before but Killmonger is right was such a huge thing coming off Black Panther. I feel like with Namor it’s like 5000 times stronger argument and I’m really I wish there’d been a little bit more Namora, I think she’s incredible also very ironic because a lot of the inspiration there was probably taken from Namora number one, the original introduction of that character from the Golden Age, set in a mayan underground secret society. They worship a god, K’ukulkan, you know. So a lot of inspiration was taken from that. I’d like to see more of Namora, but I like that conflict based out between the two of them where he might be, he might end up as more of the Charles and she ends up as more of the Magneto also will say, I love the X-Men, yeah. I feel like currently Namor is really going to be that Magneto style figure for the MCU.


Jason Concepcion Interesting.


Rosie Knight Going forward.


Jason Concepcion I can see that.


Rosie Knight He has that direct action, the politics that are right but the the the way that he will approach is not going to make everyone happy. Yeah, very emotional, great performances, beautiful cinematography and Namor, I love you. I’m so excited to see more.


Jason Concepcion I am very, very excited for more Namor. Up next, the Omnibus.


Jason Concepcion <AD>.


Jason Concepcion Welcome to another chapter in the omnibus, where lore analysis and understanding come together. This week, Afrofuturism and the Black Panther. The Black Panther and Wakanda are an early example of Afrofuturism, which is a term coined by cultural critic Mark Dery in his 1993 essay Black to the Future, which explored the paucity of black creators in sci fi. Filmmaker and scholar Tasha L. Womack in her book, Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi and Fantasy Culture, defines the movement as, quote, both an artistic esthetic and a framework for critical theory that, quote, combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, afro centricity and magic realism with non-Western beliefs. Some other examples of Afrofuturism that you might be aware of are the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Parliament-Funkadelics, kind of like UFO esthetic and lore, the works of Octavia Butler and the late rapper MF Doom. Wakanda is the most technologically advanced superpower on earth in the MCU. A utopia, melding supercomputers, incredible weapons, spaceships with fictional African traditions, the Orisha, the Heart-Shaped Herb, Warrior Falls and so on at a time when racial caricaturing of nonwhite characters was commonplace. See any of Marvel comics or any comics at all, DC Comics, anybody. 1960s depiction of Asian characters and any character of color really. Kirby and Lee avoided such pitfalls with the creation of T’Challa. Without a doubt. Loyola professor, Adilifu Nama writes in his book Super Black American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes, the Black Panther and Wakanda offered unprecedented and upbeat images of Africa and African people. When Reed Richards, among of course, the most very brilliant minds in the Marvel Universe, first account encounters Wakandan technology. He’s blown away. Quote, He took a metal device from inside his toga, Reed says in Fantastic Four, number 52. But it’s so small. Can you actually transmit a message halfway around the globe with that? As radical is the intersection of technology and blackness is. The presentation of Wakanda as a nation which has time and again successfully defended itself from European invasion and colonization. Wakanda compels respect from the world’s great nations, it’s superheroes and it’s supervillains. The nation has no history of colonial trauma to transcend. Wakanda’s existence as a free, self-sufficient geopolitical power is a powerful critique of colonialism and the economic exploitation of Africa. The introduction of Ulysses KLAUE sharpens that point. A Belgian mercenary son of a Nazi war criminal, Klaue, the Black Panther’s nemesis, is obsessed with obtaining Wakanda’s vibranium. T’challa’s origin story rising from the title of Black Panther after beating back Klaue’s murderous assault on his nation is, as Nama writes, quote, the idealized composite of Third World black revolutionaries and the anti-colonialist movement of the 1950s that they represented. The first Black Panther film calls on numerous elements from T’challa’s Comics canon. The most notable being, for me, Panther’s Rage and the client. The former is a storyline which is an epic storyline written by Don McGregor with Art by Rick Buckler, Billy Graham and Gil Kane, which played out in the pages of Black Panther solo book, then embarrassingly titled Jungle Action from September 1973 to November 1975. Rosie, tell us more about Bill Graham.


Rosie Knight Yeah, Panther’s Rage is a really monumental book, not just because it’s widely seen as one of the best arcs of Black Panther, but also it was drawn predominantly by Billy Graham, who is arguably the first black creator who was hired by the big two. The book also had a black uncredited assistant on it, Arvell Jones. And Billy Graham had already done work at Marvel because he had inked the first ever issue of Luke Cage: Hero for Hire in 1972 and continued to incorporate all that book through its first 16 issues. One of the things that’s most memorable about Billy’s are on Panther’s Rage are these unbelievable title pages he would draw with these huge names written out of rock, and Billy has long been an under credited part of Marvel history, so it’s really wonderful to see people revisit Panther’s Rage and learn about the impact that Billy and his art had on Black Panther and this landmark arc.


Jason Concepcion The Client is an arc written by Christopher Priest with Art by Mark Teixeira, not the baseball player, part of a character redefining run on the Black Panther solo title, which was first published in the late nineties and is just tremendously influential, like unbelievably influential. In Panther’s Rage,.


T’Challa back in Wakanda, after many years in the States, is struggling to adapt to a nation that is kind of in, is in the midst of kind of coming apart because of palace intrigue. And he’s trying to balance his love life and also his responsibilities as a leader. And he faces his most dangerous nemesis yet. A Wakandan named N’Jadaka who spent time in America changed his name to Erik Killmonger. Panther’s rage was groundbreaking comic storytelling. The story was set completely in Africa, in Wakanda, far from the urban settings in which most, you know, kind of mainstream media stories set in a black context were told and it was, quote, At a time when strident expressions of black cultural pride were cresting in the United States, rates Nama in Super Black. The story unfolds over 13 issues, which was. This was not done back then. This was not really done in comics. 13 issue story like arc didn’t really happened back then when it was hard to find comics like you didn’t know. Most people got them off the rack. There were not that many comics stores. And so to do a 13 issue arc was really. It was an investment. And it was. And it was. It’s cool that it happened, but it was really. You’re trusting people are going to be able to find these comics and follow the story. It has been described as Marvel’s first graphic novel, The Kree Skrull War, for instance, which was published in 1970 172, was told over eight issues in the pages of the Avengers Panther’s Rage features, with one exception the villain Venom, an All Black cast, a first for mainstream comics. In their first confrontation, Killmonger tosses a Black Panther over Warrior Falls, declaring your line of descent and you’ll take nothing for me ever again. Goodbye, great and mighty king. You’ve returned to the land of your birth, only to die here. T’Challa bounces back from this defeat much quicker than he does in the First Panther film. But this, you know, this defeat really shakes T’Challa to his core and subsequent issues he faces various challenges to his authority. Christopher Priest, who in 1983 became the first black writer be hired at the big two comic houses, Marvel and DC, began writing Black Panther in 1998. At the time, this was a really tenuous time in comics writ large and in particularly at Marvel, which was just that emerging from bankruptcy after the kind of collectibles wide bust of the early to mid aughts that included comics, included Beanie Babies, included trading cards, etc. All those things just tanked. And the company at that time was just kind of willing to try shit, just throw anything at the wall and see if anything came of it. One of those things was a new line of edgier comics branded as Marvel Knights,  K-n-i-g-h-t-s. Editors Joe Cassada and Jimmy Palmiotti approached Priest about Black Panther. Christopher was initially hesitant to do it, but he accepted, and it was a transformational run, breathing new energy into the character and lore. Quote, He had the classic run on Black Panther period, and that’s going to be true for a long time. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Black Panther writer and now Superman writer, told Vulture’s Abraham Raisman in 2018. Priest brought a real kingly weight to T’challa’s character. Contrast this with Panther’s Rage, where T’Challa was more unsure of his leadership and how to wield it. In Priest’s telling, T’Challa was a leader, was a king, was a ruler, and exuded that confidence. In The Client, he just commands total respect. And while Priest did not create the Black Panther it’s really in many ways his version of the character that you see in the MCU and artist Mark Teixeira tell the tale in a kind of jumbled, fractured style that feels, you know, very Quentin Tarantino esque, very of the time period of the nineties. The it’s about the Tomorrow Fund, which is a Wakanda project to create affordable housing in the kind of downtrodden urban areas. It’s been revealed as a cover for a money laundering operation for drug money. A young girl who appears in the fund’s ad with T’Challa is murdered. And despite tensions arising from war refugees sheltering Wakanda, the King travels to the U.S. to try and figure out, like, okay, what’s going on with this Tomorrow Fund and to to, you know, like bring those responsible to justice. He’s accompanied by his personal bodyguards, Nakia and Okoye, members of the elite all female fighting force known as the Dora Milaje. Quote, The concept of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan for adored ones, evolved out of the brilliant work of Panther scribe Don McGregor, who theorized Wakanda was actually made up of a great many indigenous tribes and that not all the tribes liked each other. Priest writes on his website Quote Joe and Jimmy just thought it’d be cool to have Panther train travel with a pair of six foot tall, gorgeous women. And I certainly agreed. But the order of the Dora Milaje, a kind of nun wife in training deal, gave us a foot in both the worlds, the Panthers struggled to maintain peace between the modern and the tribal. End quote. Story is told mainly through the recollections of one colonizer, Everett Ross. CIA agent Everett Ross, a kind of in the comics, a mid-level State Department bureaucrat who is ostensibly assigned to T’Challa as his kind of like point of contact with the US government. But whose actual job is to spy on him. Priest inspiration for Ross was hilariously Chandler Bing from Friends and Alex P. Keaton from the 1980s sitcom Family Ties. The inclusion of Ross as a narrator was this really subversive moment. Quote, With Ross in place, the book began to take shape, Priest writes on Quote continues, Ross became the key to making the book work. He was the voice of the average Marvel reader who in no doubt wondered why Marvel was bothering with another Panther series. Ross’ monologues begin to steal the show, off setting the mysterious night creature, the man of few words who Ross was attached to. The monologues were often outrageous, with Ross interpreting the Marvel Universe through his every man’s eyes rather than through the eyes of someone who’s been reading comics all their life. It was a new voice, once seemingly hostile towards the Marvel Universe and by extension, its fans. But actually the intent is to be a social observer and a deconstructionist, end quote. And as Nama notes in Super Black quote, the Ross figure provides the reader with the choice of identifying with either the white figure or the black superhero or both of them, but never exclusively with the black protagonist in this sense. Ross’s characters a nifty technique for addressing whether or not white readers will identify with a black superhero, namely T’Challa. By the mid 2000s, Priest had burned out at Marvel. Frustrated by a lack of opportunities to write A-list characters, quote, I’ve mentioned this a lot in interviews, Priest told in 2020. But long story short, somehow, bizarrely, as a result of my writing Black Panther, a comic book about the cultural awakening of a white man named Ross, I stopped being a writer and somehow became a black writer, offered only writing assignments for characters for color, end quote. Priest returned to comics in 2016 when DC offered him the writing duties on Deathstroke as part of the company’s Rebirth launch. That title ended in 2019, and as early as 2021, Priest was working on the relaunch of Vampirella for Dynamite Comics.


Rosie Knight Okay. And this is actually incredible because Billy Graham’s first known credited work was actually on a Vampirella comic illustrating Donga in Vampirella, I think it was number one in 1969. And he would go on to actually pencil nearly like a dozen stories and ink Vampirella stories. So it’s kind of amazing that there’s also that connection between what Priest is doing now and then, where Billy found a home at the beginning of his career.


Jason Concepcion Up next, a conversation with Ironheart writer Eve L Ewing.


Jason Concepcion <AD>.


Jason Concepcion Welcome to the Hive Mind, where we explore our topic in more detail with the help of expert guests. This week, we’re absolutely honored to have Eve L. Ewing author, academic, poet, writer of Marvel’s Ironheart series, which reinvented Riri and who, of course, makes her MCU debut in Black Panther, Wakanda Forever. Eve, welcome to X-ray Vision.


Eve L. Ewing Oh, thanks for having me. I’m a super fan of the podcast, as you all know. So this is very exciting for me, and it’s a big career moment for me.


Rosie Knight A big career move for us, to have you on the show. Oh, it’s something just so wonderful to talk to people who make comics, who love this stuff like we do. So first of all, like, what was your comic book origin story? What made you fall in love with comics?


Eve L. Ewing Yeah, well my comic book origin story is a little unique, I think, in that I would not have been born without comics. And what I mean by that is that my dad in the eighties was making and self-publishing like, comic books are basically like zines.


Jason Concepcion Oh, wow.


Rosie Knight That’s so cool. How did that?


Eve L. Ewing Yeah, it is very cool. I have tracked down some of these and he’s pretty mortified at them now. But I think they’re cool. And and in the eighties, my parents were both waiting at a Greyhound bus station in Chicago to head back to their respective hometowns for the holidays. And my dad was there selling these comic books for a dollar.


Rosie Knight Oh, my God.


Eve L. Ewing And my mom bought one and her and her friends had been like pre gaming the Greyhound. So they were like a little tipsy, you know, as one does. And she had never ridden the bus by herself before. And so they were getting on the same bus. And her friends kind of like drunkenly said to my dad, like, you know, we have your comic book and if something happens to our friend, like, we’ll find you. You know, you’re responsible for her, because there was no Internet. And so he had like his, you know, address, his mailing address and his phone number on on this thing. And so so that’s how my parents met.


Jason Concepcion Wow


Rosie Knight Oh, wow.


Eve L. Ewing I’m so, it’s like a very literal origin story. And then my first comics as a kid, I feel now, like, confident enough in myself to say this, that I was a big Archie Comics fan.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Yes.


Eve L. Ewing For many years. Like, yeah, didn’t feel confident sharing that, but I started reading Archie when I was in kindergarten and that was kind of my first, you know, Archie, they would like often reprint old comic like old strips in the same issue with new ones. And so that was also my introduction as a kid to the idea of like recurring characters and that and different people can like have different takes on things and like letters to the editor and all these sorts of things. And then in middle school Chicago at the time when I was growing up, you know, like every week in our local Art Weekly, I would be reading like Lynda Barry and Ivan Brunetti and Chris Ware. So it was like a really great time for comics and cartooning. And then in high school I started getting more into superhero comics. Oh, shout out like Chicago Comics and Queen Bees, which is a place that has an amazing zine collection. You know, I was reading like superhero stuff, but also like Joan and Vasquez and.


Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah. Baby Joanie, the homicidal maniac. Yeah. Yeah. If you were our age, that was the that was the it was that was the thing.


Eve L. Ewing And, you know, it was also like a great time for animation, you know, like Samurai Jack came out when I was 15. I promise I’ll wrap up this long story soon.


Jason Concepcion No, no, no. THis is why you’re here.


Eve L. Ewing Well, you know, since when like, my first when I was in high school, I signed up to take this history of animation class at the University of Chicago, where I now teach. And I learned about, like, Yang Shrunk Meyer and like, Winsor McCay and yeah, so like I would say animation and comics and cartooning were all very much of a piece for me. And then the last thing in this epic origin story is that when I was 15 or 16 at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Neil Gaiman was interviewing Will Eisner and and my dad took me to see that interview. And so that was pretty amazing, especially because later on and you know, if we talk about like the not so fun part of comics later, I had the very surreal experience of Neil Gaiman, like defending me on the Internet from the people. So that was that was pretty cool. I was like, Well, you’re really important to me. But, you know, I think that like when I was in high school, I never people always say, like, did you think that you would write comics? And I absolutely didn’t because I, I never I never saw anybody who looked like me doing it. And and I think that there are many people in this world who have the imagination to kind of insert themselves in the narratives where they haven’t been. And I just didn’t have that level of imagination. So I was like, Oh, you know, this is something I’m always going to love, but I’ll never get a chance to do. But I did as I started taking myself pretty seriously as a writer across lots of genres. You know, I was reading a lot of Ivan Brunetti and Scott McCloud and stuff like that because I also and I still, you know, to students and all kinds of people who just want to talk about like how to be a great writer. I tell them, like read Understanding Comics, read Cartooning, Philosophy and Practice, right? Because I think that they have a lot to teach us just about, like narrative in general and storytelling in general. So yeah, I think that before I even started writing comics, a lot of my other writing was very informed by that tradition.


Jason Concepcion Just from that answer. I think people who maybe are not familiar with your work or you are getting the picture of how incredibly varied and well-rounded you are. You know, if that’s the right term for the amount of stuff that you know about and that your intellect touches. And I wonder as so as, you know, as an assistant professor, as.


Eve L. Ewing Oh, I’m assoicate now, I’m tenure.


Jason Concepcion Oh, hey, hey.


Rosie Knight Hey, hey, congrats.


Eve L. Ewing It’s great.


Jason Concepcion As officially a professor.


Eve L. Ewing Yeah. I can’t be fired. I cannot be fired.


Jason Concepcion I love it. You love to hear it.


Eve L. Ewing Pretty great scam.


Jason Concepcion You know, as an academic, as a sociologist, as an author, as a poet, how do how do all those things inform your work, you know, at any point in this range of of things that you’re interested in?


Eve L. Ewing Yeah. Thanks for asking that. I thought you were going to pivot to the whole rest of the interview being about Yong Chunk Meyer and like checking out.


Jason Concepcion I’m trying to get there, which is  like.


Rosie Knight The Jabowokee. Come on, guys.


Eve L. Ewing Yeah. Yeah. You know, I think that at the end of the day, I just want to tell stories. I want to tell good stories. And I think that not to get, like, too heady or whatever, but, you know, a lot of the.


Jason Concepcion Please get heady.


Rosie Knight Okay, cool.


Jason Concepcion Please get heady.


Rosie Knight Get heady.


Eve L. Ewing Intellectuals that are most important to me, and particularly in the black intellectual tradition, you know, people like W.E.B. Dubois, people like Zora Neale Hurston, have always written all kinds of things. Right. Like a cross genre. And I think that I think that a lot of times folks don’t really want to give themselves permission to do that. But for me, I try to approach any story or anything I want to write about and talk about and think like, what is the medium that is best going to serve what it is I’m trying to say and do. And also, I think I’m really comfortable being a learner. I’m really I used to teach middle school and that’s a great way to learn humility. You know, I think, you know, like comfort with being like, okay, what can I do better today than I did yesterday? And I think if anything, I’m I’m really comfortable doing that. And so I think that, you know, all this stuff that I write and and try to make, you know, I’ve co-written a play and I write poetry and I do comics and working on some TV stuff. And I think what unites all those things is just like, what’s the best possible story that we can tell? What are the those fundamentals of really good storytelling, you know, and how do we how do we get there? And I also think, like, I try to do something in comics that I think is has always been part of the tradition, right? Which is like using comics as a space to bring interesting questions about the world we live in to readers in a very like pop culture lowbrow way know. And I think that that’s also like the kind of like pulpy, cheap, like crappy low culture aspect of comics is something that I also really love and embrace. And, you know, I have a graphic novel coming out this coming next year in March, but prior to that I’d never written a graphic novel. And, you know, like a lot of my colleagues and stuff who don’t know anything about comics would be like, Oh, congrats on your graphic novel, right? Because they basically saw graphic novels like a polite word for like.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.


Rosie Knight It’s the, comics is the dirty word. And yeah, novel is the academic.


Eve L. Ewing You know, yeah. And people thought that they were like insulting me and they had to use this kind of, like, euphemism. And I’m super into that. I’m super into, like, pulpy, cheap garbage stories written on, like, you know, people literally stapled together. And I’m like. So I’m sold on paper that is like, not very good. I’m totally into that. And I think it puts comics alongside jazz alongside hip hop as, you know, kind of like a great subterranean art form.


Rosie Knight Absolutely. And I think like one of the things that’s so powerful is the the certain level of freedom you get from writing something that’s, like disposable or seen as disposable.


Rosie Knight Yeah right.


Rosie Knight Like over time.


Eve L. Ewing Yeah.


Rosie Knight And how does it feel like to say like poetry collection, like electric arches, which definitely deals with a lot of the same themes and interest, the kind of cosmic mix with the mundane. What kind of freedom do you get when you take those themes and you take them out of a a poetry space, a very structured space, and then you put them on to the page in a comic book. How different is that for you and how much fun do you get to have in that in that world of panels and.


Eve L. Ewing Oh, it’s so fun.


Rosie Knight Bubbles.


Eve L. Ewing You know, I see actually, I see in like if I were to categorize the work that I do, I see kind of poetry and comics as being of a piece. And then I think both of them are places where I feel a lot of permission to just do wild stuff and just say whatever, you know, and do whatever. But I think the difference about comics is that like, you know, it’s such a collaborative medium. And so for me, you know, the the poetry in my first book, Electric Arches, which you’re so kind to mention is, is very much about imagination, is very much about, you know, Afrofuturism and exploration and time travel and like weird space stuff. But to bring in the visual element of that is just so magical to me. And I feel, you know, I’ve gotten to work with a lot of different artists at this point and I feel like really grateful for all of them and really grateful for the process. And I think that for folks who have never been on the creative side of comics, just really wrapping your mind around how many people go into making one thing, I think it’s often something that surprises a lot of people. So, you know, you pick up a comic book that’s at least one editor, right? At least one writer. Somebody doing pencils, somebody maybe doing layout, somebody doing ink, somebody doing colors, somebody doing lettering. Right. And I really love working with all those folks and in particular with Ironheart being my first kind of like big two comics experience, I got really lucky working with with Luciano Vecchio for most of the run. Also shoutout to Kevin La Brando, who started out the run. But most of the issues are drawn by Luciano, who’s just like an amazing, wonderful person. And so that aspect of it is really different than poetry or other forms of writing, where it’s like, I’m trying to take stuff from my brain and say it on paper and then turning it over with a lot of trust and a lot of gratitude to really brilliant people who are going to bring it to life in a different way. And so that’s something that I that I really appreciate. And one of the biggest things that I try to tell, you know, folks who are, again, like as I’m teaching or talking to folks about coming into the space is like an artist on a comic book is not an illustrator. Their job is not to complement or like make pretty what you’re doing, right. Like they are doing 50% or more of the work through their craft.


Rosie Knight They’re a translator. They translate your script into the comic book, you know.


Eve L. Ewing Yeah. And they’re and like visual art is what makes comics what they are. Right. And so I think it’s also been really amazing for me to live in to some of my principles as a writer about like parsimony and less is more and show don’t tell. And all that stuff becomes very literal in the comic space in a way that it isn’t in like nonfiction or poetry or other things.


Jason Concepcion I wonder if you could take us into that, the kind of process that that you uncovered through working on Ironheart because, you know, one of the things that I think Rosie and I try to do with this pod is like point away for people like Rosie and myself, who fell in love with comics, fell in love with serialized storytelling to try and, if they ever wanted to do that and find a creative outlet for themselves, just find that kind of like nuts and bolts things that they could, you know, bring into their process that could help them get there. So what was that like? What is the what’s the storytelling process? The collaborative process like on on on these issues? How do you how do you bring these stories to life?


Eve L. Ewing Yeah, well, you know, I think the first thing you have to get over is like immense fear.


Jason Concepcion Think that’s the biggest the biggest obstacle for any for any. Oh, yeah.


Eve L. Ewing For any creative. Yeah. I think that, you know, I something like I’ve published a lot of stuff, I’ve written a lot of stuff. And to this day when I sit down to write a new thing, you know, I have that moment of terror of like, I think I’m going to throw up, you know. Like I am I, you know, like I’m like I might die. Like I might die from writing. Is today the day that writing finally gets me, you know? And so I think the biggest thing is like learning to push through that. Alexander Chee, who’s an essayist and novelist, has this thing that he said that I’m sort of paraphrasing, but people should look it up from his book, which is called How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, which the title is misleading because it’s not about that. It’s just like a collection of essays, many of which are about writing. But one of the things he says is like the difference between people who write and people who don’t is being able to stand it. And so I think the biggest thing is like learning to trust yourself and to work through some of those feelings of discomfort. And then beyond that, you know, I studied up a lot. I seek feedback a lot. I think who I am now, I’m working on what my next project is going to be for, for Marvel, which I really wish I could tell you, because it’s super exciting, it’s super great. But I’m working on that now and I’ve had a lot of opportunities to reflect on like who I am now as a comics writer versus who I was in 2018, trying to start Ironheart. And I think that the the biggest thing that I had on my side was reading a lot, studying a lot. You know, some of those those books that we just talked about, you know, a lot of certainly everything Scott McCloud wrote about comics, you know, Will Eisner’s books. And Greg Pak has a really great book called Making Comics like the Prose or something like that. And he’s he’s amazing. But also like reaching out for help, you know. And so I had folks give me a lot of feedback on things and kind of push, push me forward. And then even with that understanding that the first thing you write, like, you know, I look back at my, my first issue of Ironheart and I’m like, you know, oh my God, there’s so many things that I never do, you know. And that’s the truth for every comics writer I have spoken to, you know, it’s like nauseating to look back at where you started, but you have to be willing to push through that, you know, to be willing to to kind of get over that. And I think for anybody who wants to write in any genre, I think about this, I’m really into baking and I’m really into metaphors. So, you know, one of my favorite ways of thinking about this is like, if I told you, if you’re like, you know, I want to make a cake. Like, I’ve seen cake. I’ve eaten cake really into it. It’s tasty. It’s delicious. It’s beautiful. And, you know, you took a bowl and you put like eggs and flour and milk and cocoa powder into a bowl. And you stirred it up and you’re like.This doesn’t look like cake at all. Like, this is this, you know, what is this? And you throw it in the garbage like you don’t go, that’s you. Didn’t finish. You didn’t finish the process. And I think that a lot of folks, they see the writing that they admire the most and they see the finished product of that. And they don’t realize exactly how much like utter garbage sauce went into going from a first draft to a final product. And like, you got to put the cake in the in the batter in the oven or, you know, put the batter in the pan and put the pan in the oven. And and I think that that’s that’s the secret. You know, I was a Ta-Nehisi COATES I’m very grateful to count him as a close, close friend and mentor. And I watched him be interviewed several years ago, and somebody asked him about the case for reparations, which for those who only know him from comics, you don’t know him for his runs on Kap and Black Panther. He, you know, wrote this really important piece of nonfiction prose. And, you know, somebody said, I wish I could have written that. I could never have written that. He said, Oh, it was easy. You know, all I did was I wrote it badly five times, you know.


Jason Concepcion Right. Exactly.


Eve L. Ewing That’s all you have to do. Yeah. And I think that that’s it. So, you know, unfortunately that’s true about so many things like, you know, working out exercise like relationships, like all these things about life that we kind of wish were just easy. Unfortunately, you just have to do the thing.


Rosie Knight I love that.


Eve L. Ewing It sucks.


Rosie Knight Because that’s what we always, that when people we’ve done like mailbox mailbag episodes and stuff and people will say like, Oh, how do you get into writing comics? How do you start writing? And this you just got to make them you got to do like what your dad did.


Eve L. Ewing I know that’s horrible


Rosie Knight You got to make  a zine. You got to write a script, you got to write a pilot. And you kind of touched on this. But, you know, throughout that, that’s your writing process. That’s how you get it done. And you mention this, but like, what was it like the first time that you start? And still now, because I know it’s like the best feeling, but what was it like when you started to get the art back and you started to see.


Eve L. Ewing My gosh. Yeah


Rosie Knight Your story and really being brought to life in this form that you’d loved since you were a kid and suddenly you’re part of that process. How did that feel?


Eve L. Ewing Oh, it’s mind blowing. I never get over it. I mean, yeah, getting getting art back is like the great Christmas. I mean, it’s like Christmas and your birthday, you know, rolled into one. And I think that that’s also part of why it’s challenging to start, because when you when you write your first comic script, if you’re doing your own art, that’s dope and actually secret. Since we’re doing all kinds of secret confessionals of things I would normally say in interviews, you know, I actually in the early like 2011, 2012, I was like, oh, I’ll probably just like self-publish a lot of comics. I was I was drawing. I was writing and drawing.


Rosie Knight Wow.


Eve L. Ewing And, you know, and like and that I mean, for those who who draw or do visual art, it’s the same thing, right? Like every time you sit down to put a pencil to paper, you learn something new at the limits of your own ability, right? Where you’re like, oh, man, people have wrists. Like, you know, like.


Rosie Knight How do you what’s a car? I’ve never never seen this before.


Jason Concepcion WHat’s that? Yeah.


Eve L. Ewing And you’re like, I’ve never seen a car before in my entire life.


Rosie Knight The force doesn’t exist.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, was it a dog? Yeah. Meaning maybe no animals in this thing.


Rosie Knight No crowds. Nobody’s ever seen another person. And it’s just more.


Jason Concepcion Perspective? And maybe I’ll just. I’ll get everything straight on.


Eve L. Ewing You know, and and this honestly, that’s a kind of a cool, you know, another comic strip that I love growing up as Life and Hell by Matt Groening, right? Where it’s like literally every single. So, you know, I wrote this, this this strip called Pretend Interviews, which was a comic of a cartoon strip, a cartoon of a radio show, a fictional radio show of me interviewing dead people. And I did it Life and Hell Style, where every single panel is exactly the same as you sitting on a.


Rosie Knight Yeah. Copy and paste panel.


Eve L. Ewing Just literally copy and paste. So anyway, unless you’re doing your own art and even if you are the part of the challenge of writing your first script is recognizing that kind of translational work that Rosie was talking about, which is like, how do I say this in a way that somebody else is going to be able to draw it in a way that’s compelling? You know, how do I do that succinctly? How how do I give them enough and not too much? And the first time you’re writing a script and you haven’t seen how it turns to art, that’s hard to do. Right? And so it ceases to be kind of an intellectual exercise. I was I was helping a friend of mine. His his. Writing his first comic script, and he sent it to me. And then, you know, I sent him a gentle reminder that I also had to receive, which is that in comics, people can only do one thing at a time.


Rosie Knight Yes. Right. So you can’t have somebody walking through a door into another room and then they grab something.


Eve L. Ewing Rosie walked in and picked up her mug of tea and high fived Jason Yeah. Wow.


Rosie Knight That’s a whole page.


Eve L. Ewing Like the whole thing, right? So you have to decide and that’s different. I think also a lot of folks are familiar with like screenwriting or TV, TV people move like TV. Human beings can move around in three dimensions. And so so that’s kind of like to me, honestly, what I still really relish at a craft level. It’s like, what is the what is the gestalt? What is the essence of like this, this Rosie moment? Right. Is it most important that she sips her tea is the most important that she pets the cat? Is almost like, what am I actually trying to get across? And I kind of love that. Like, I love thinking about how you reduce moments of immense emotion and human interaction to like a single thing. I’m also really a big fan of like, it’s pretty boring when people are just talking to each other, like standing there talking. And so I’m also a big fan of the subtextual visual like sub story that I script out, but that doesn’t involve dialog, right? And so, you know, like there’s this in Issue seven? Issue seven of Iron, Ironheart. Nadia van Dyne, the WASP, comes to visit Riri in her lab and she’s Riri showing her around and the subtext. So like as she’s showing her around the lab, to me this is an opportunity to show a lot of things about Riri. So one of the things she like a recurring thing in Ironheart is that every time Riri opens a fridge it’s only full of orange pop. And so like she only that’s all she drinks and that’s like that’s a character moment, right? That the things, the ways that people interact with each other non-verbally, the things that you see on somebody’s desk, the way that they dress. Right, like all of those are opportunities to build a character as well. And I love scripting that type of stuff. And it’s, it’s kind of the backdrop. So that like because, you know, I do want to write like emotionally laden work. And so if people are sitting and having a deep discussion, like what are the other things that they can be doing, you know, in Rosie’s, you know, comic the food the food preparation scene, right?


Rosie Knight Yeah. Yeah.


Eve L. Ewing The Miyazaki nod of like somebody making food in the background or they’re having a conversation. I love that type of thing.


Rosie Knight Yeah, it’s really fun.


Jason Concepcion For me, I think one of the biggest lessons I need to learn in my own writing was my own tendency to love my characters and want to protect them too much. You know, you always hear, oh, love all your characters, even the even the bad, even the villains, you know, you have to empathize with, you know. And so the way that that manifested in my own work was that I don’t want anything to happen to them. I want to just be protected.


Rosie Knight Slice of life. They want to be chillin. Joy and light.


Jason Concepcion Hanging out, you know, and what what you know, how does that translate? It translates to nothing, it’s boring. Were there any moments like that for you where you’re like, Oh, God, I have to I have to be mean to this creation that I love a little bit. I have to be willing to be mean to them.


Eve L. Ewing Yeah. Oh, that’s such a good question. So first of all, my dream in life is to have the cachet as a creator to produce work in which truly nothing happens.


Rosie Knight It’s a dream. The ultimate dream of dreams. Yeah, yeah.


Eve L. Ewing I’m a big I’m a Miyazaki stan.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, absolutely.


Eve L. Ewing And so, like, you know, I love Miyazaki films in which, like truly not a lot happens, you know, oh, there’s there’s there’s the polar opposite, which is the Miyazaki film in which like 700 things happen that you don’t really understand, you know, like you know, I’ve seen Princess Mononoke, like, you know, infinite times. I think the last time I saw it, I was like, Cool. I think I’m up to a strong 75% of understanding what is going on. The opposite of that is where it’s just like, yeah, you know, like you like Kiki. She worked at a bakery and then, like, there was a, you know, like, very minimal, kind of. Yeah, I guess. Ice, fire, ice, fire. But until I get to that point, I think, you know, I got into one of the few times I’ve had like a minor respectful disagreement with somebody on the creative side. And Marvel Comics was then this person who was not an editor, who was, you know, kind of higher up person, really wanting me to kill some characters. And, you know, I was kind of like, what are the other ways that we can have stakes, right? And so it’s true. You can’t just have nothing happening. But I think that some of our assumptions about what constitutes stakes are sometimes wrong. And so the question is like, what are the, you know, to quote She-Hulk, like, those aren’t my stakes, right? Like what are the stakes that matter for that character? And I think for somebody, you know, for somebody like Riri just, you know, since we’re talking about her, the stakes of like getting into a fight are not always the highest stakes. Right? For her, the journey that I wanted to take her on in that solo title was really like, very emotional. And so, like, being wrong. Exploring your own inner foolishness that you haven’t really dealt with, being nice to other people, listening to other people, taking advice, asking for help. Right. Like those things are also really big moments for some characters. And so the question is, how do you take the audience or the reader on a journey where they’re bought in? They’re bought in. You know, I don’t know if you guys watched The Bear. Did you watch The Bear?


Jason Concepcion Yes.


Eve L. Ewing I have huge huge fan of The Bear.


Rosie Knight It’s like ten out of ten. Incredible. I spent a lot of my time before I moved to America working in bars and restaurants. So it was like I was like, oh, this was the representation I wanted was like, it’s shit to work in a restaraunt.


Jason Concepcion It absolutely captured that frenetic. There is an emergency. There is another an emergency. Now there’s another emergency and people need to get fed also.


Eve L. Ewing And it’s a little I think it’s a little triggering for people who’ve worked in the restaurant industry. You know, it’s like.


Jason Concepcion For sure.


Eve L. Ewing But but, you know, one of my famous. So folks should watch. I think it’s just an amazingly written piece of media. I also think is one of the best things to take place in Chicago. Like, ever written, it’s really good. But, you know, I think one of my favorite scenes is like this scene of these two characters, Sidney and Marcus at the end, right towards the end of the first season. This isn’t like a major spoiler, but, you know, Sidney has basically just like done the George Costanza equivalent of like sitting in the slushy machine. Like like when you have an epic quit, like an epic quitting. You know, when you’re like I quit on this in this, like, amazing, like, burn every bridge way and this tension of, like, is she going to go back? Like, can she go back to the restaurant? Right. And to me, when I think about that show, which is so wildly frenetic and stressful, like, to me that’s one of the highest stakes moments of of the season is because all of us have felt that thing where, like we we went out with a bang and then we look back and we’re like, Yo, I was kind of wrong. Oh, like, I honestly was like, maybe really wrong. And really and like, am I going to go back and tell people like, Yo, I was wrong and try to salvage that? That’s so cringey. It’s like so hard to even talk about. So yeah, I think that the question of like, you know, kill your darlings. Like, sometimes that’s that’s not literally murdering.


Jason Concepcion Right? Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Eve L. Ewing And, you know, so, you know, Adilifu Nama said this to me. He was like at this point, you know, people dying in comics is also like not that high stakes.


Rosie Knight I was going to say that like the irony is everybody comes back. So, yeah. The bigger challenge is to find stakes that feel real.


Eve L. Ewing George R.R. Martin is like comics stopped being good when people stop being permanently dead.


Rosie Knight He’s still like, he’s feared of Uncle Bang coming back. That will be the true moment.


Eve L. Ewing Just kill people and make them dead. He’s like, Just kill them and let them be dead. Come on, bro.


Rosie Knight Come on bro. I mean, that’s the ultimate comic book conundrum. So I think that’s quite I yeah, quite ironic that that was a note. You know, the idea that you had to kill people for it to be real, I’m like.


Rosie Knight Oh, they’ll be back, they’ll be back, they’ll be back. People die every day, yo.  And then kind of like, What was it like for you? To go from this space of seeing getting to know Riri as a writer, but also as a comic book fan. And in this space, too, then, you know, this is one of the quickest, if not the quickest transitions of being introduced in 2016. Getting a solo series 2018, being in the MCU. Six year period.


Jason Concepcion 2020 2022. It’s amazing. It’s amazing.


Rosie Knight It’s one of the quickest. So how does it feel then, to not just be creating her story and seeing it on the page, but to then go to the premiere, to see it on screen and to see Dominique Thorne just absolutely smash it?


Eve L. Ewing Oh, yeah. Well, first of all, is this a spoiler? This is a spoiler friendly situation, right?


Rosie Knight Yeah, this is a spoiler note.


Eve L. Ewing Okay, cool. Cool. Yeah. I mean, so first of all, on a practical level, I spent the last four years of my life perfecting the who is Ironheart spiel. For that I have to give to people, which now has morphed into the Who is Monica Rambeau spiel that I roped in on.


Rosie Knight Doing the Lord’s work . Doing the Lord’s work.


Eve L. Ewing And you know just like to tell people, you know, tell people in 30 seconds before their eyes glaze over, you know, like, eh, this is a character, Brian Michael Bendis and Miles Morales, you know, brain and fat guy. Okay. So Ironman, you know who that is and the protege, but then not the same. And at that point, the person is like walked away. And so what I’m really excited about is just like being able to say Iron Heart to people and then being like, cool, I know who that is, without like this long, drawn out explanation. Also, usually at the end of that explanation, somebody turns to their friend and they’re like, Yeah, this is Eve. She wrote Iron Man in the movies and like, No.


Rosie Knight That’s not how it happened.


Eve L. Ewing And comics literacy is still like.


Rosie Knight Yes.


Eve L. Ewing Very little in our society. So yeah, that also keeps me humble. One of my best friends, when I when I started writing Ironheart, she said to me, this is a person, brilliant person. I mean, she has a Ph.D., you know, like amazing person, well-read. She’s like she’s like I, I was unaware that they were still making new superheroes.


Rosie Knight Yes, she’s like, yes, yes, yes, yes.


Jason Concepcion It’s a real thing


Eve L. Ewing She’s like, you know. I thought like, there’s Batman, there’s Spider-Man. And I thought like, you know, they’re done.  Like, she thought there was like a canonical like this.


Rosie Knight Yeah, done.


Eve L. Ewing Who we have.


Rosie Knight Comic book exists.


Eve L. Ewing And we’re just, you know, I’m like, you know, we have new Pokémon. Like, there’s like, so anything that has IP. That’s not like, you know, we just have so, so honestly, like just the I love this character so much and she’s very real to me in a probably weird way. And so, yeah, like, just to know that she’s going to be visible to so many other people is, is really exciting and frankly, completely unreal for me. And then honestly, being at the premiere, like, first of all, is my first Hollywood premiere. And so it was just, like, surreal in a number of ways. Yeah. Rihanna sat two rows behind us.


Jason Concepcion Oh, my God.


Like, like directly behind them. So that I could not see her unless I turned my entire body. And throughout the whole time, my husband was like, Rihanna is eating popcorn. Like he was so live.


Rosie Knight He was giving you the commentary.


Eve L. Ewing Of, like, all of Rihanna’s activities. To me, I was like, okay, thank you. But yeah, I thought. I’m a big crier. And I thought I was going to cry a lot when she first appeared on screen. And instead I was like, so filled with the most unspeakable joy that I can’t even describe to you. I was so happy. And I sat behind, right behind. Reginald Hudlin.


Rosie Knight Oh, wow.


Eve L. Ewing You know who, for folks who don’t know, is both Hollywood like black film icon. Made like House Party and Boomerang, but also had a pretty good run on Black Panther and the comics writer. And and when we first appeared on screen, he turned around and grabbed my hand and he goes.


Jason Concepcion Oh.


Eve L. Ewing He’s like, That’s what the fuck I’m talking about. I’m like, totally lost. And I was like, Yeah, so.


Rosie Knight Oh, I love that.


Eve L. Ewing And so that was really cool.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Eve L. Ewing That was very cool. And Bendis was there in the same row. And the other thing I’ll share is that like, I think this is okay to say, like he he was sitting in front and like a little to the left of me and, and before the and we’d actually never met in person before.


Rosie Knight Oh, wow.


Eve L. Ewing And so, you know, I went over and I introduced myself to him, and he he shook my hand and he said, You’re the reason we’re all here.


Rosie Knight It’s true.


Jason Concepcion Wow.


Eve L. Ewing And that was like very, I think, very just very moving and very generous. And, you know, I think for him to be able to say that, yeah, it was it was it was really kind. And I think that part of the fun and wild thing is like, none of us own these characters, right? Like, these are great.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Eve L. Ewing That’s the other thing where people don’t understand. Like, I’m not making, like, they’re.


Rosie Knight Like,  you’re a millionaire now,  your characters are in the MCU.


Jason Concepcion From your mansion in Holmby Hills. Yeah. Yeah.


Eve L. Ewing I do not own this IP but, you know. But so I think part of the, like, beauty, the, the hard part and the beautiful part is like you have a you get to take your turn, right? Like, you know, yeah, Ryan invented something and made something and then I got to take my turn and that was really, really special. And then, you know, Coogler and Dominique are taking their turn. And when the Disney Plus series comes, Shenaka Hod. She’s an amazing writer who actually who also a poet. So who actually knew prior to her taking on. Yeah, it’s great. Like poets are out here doing stuff. Yeah. Like, everybody gets to take their turn, you know? And I think that that’s I think that’s hard for some people, but it’s really, really cool, too. It’s really cool to see where people take something. And I’m I’m lucky enough that I am a consultant on the on the TV show. And so.


Rosie Knight Amazing.


Eve L. Ewing You know, that means, like, I made a lot of notes and they can take it or leave it. But something that Kelley Stewart, the comic, said to me is like for us as comics writers, when we see the stuff on screen, our job is not to litigate every kind of like biographical detail of the character, but to do our best to try to protect the core of who the character is. And that’s what I you know, that’s what I’m hoping to be able to do. And I feel like if I had, you know, if somebody had told all of us 15 years ago, there’s going to be a Spider-Man movie. And.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Eve L. Ewing This Spider-Man has no Uncle Ben.


Rosie Knight Yeah, right.


Eve L. Ewing We would be like, what? Boo. Right. Like that’s. Yeah, but. But it turns out, like that’s not what makes them Spider-Man. Right. As it turns out, like, we would never have known that unless somebody made that choice on screen. So. Anyway, now I’m rambling, but yeah, it’s been, it’s been wild. And Dominique as a, as a star. And I really want every amazing thing for her. She’s incredible. And I hope people love seeing her on screen.


Jason Concepcion You mentioned that the the ownership aspects, the fact that these are characters who come into your custody for a period of time. What’s that like to be part of this broader, larger conversation? You know, almost like this huge wall in a public space that you get to write something on and then walk away from it. Yeah, I was here. People get come uppance. Yeah. I wonder, you know, just, you know, philosophically, what does that what does that feel like and what do you and what role do you think that plays in this kind of like broader, vast conversation that is now, you know, the MCU?


Eve L. Ewing Yeah, I think there’s a cynical read on that and there’s like an idealistic read on it.


Jason Concepcion Absolutely.


Eve L. Ewing So depending on the day that you can see, I have I have felt both ends of this and everything in between. You know, I’m idealistic. And, you know, I wrote I wrote Marvel Team-Up, which is a miniseries featuring Kamala and Peter. And I went with the classic it’s a three issue miniseries. So I was like, Bet Body Swap.


Rosie Knight Freaky Friday, baby.


Eve L. Ewing Kamala becomes Peter. Peter becomes Kamala. Don’t think about it too hard. Just.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Eve L. Ewing Just let’s just. Let’s go. That also, by the way, was one of the few moments where I’ve also had a back and forth with editorial, because there’s a scene where Peter. Peter’s in Kamala’s body and he’s at school and he thinks he has a she has this big presentation and she’s like, don’t ruin this for me. And he’s like, Yo, I live, I’m like a scientist. Like, I’m going to kill your high school bio presentation. Like, don’t even worry about it. And he gets to class and immediately is like, Oh my God, I’m dying. Something horrible is happening to me. Like, I’m being just, like, biological warfare. And he has to be taken out of class. And then later on, there’s a scene of them sitting, you know, looking over the city and she’s like, You had a cramp. Like, those are cramps. That’s, that’s cramps, right. Like. And he’s like, I thought I was going to die. Right. So that was that was a moment where the word the word cramp was cannot appear. So we can we can unpack that later. But anyway, so.


Rosie Knight Classic.


Eve L. Ewing Yeah. Classic. So but yeah. So when I was writing that series, literally I would, I would wake up, I’d brush my teeth, I’d look in the mirror and I would be like, I write words. And Spider-Man says those words. Like it’s just like the basic fact of that, like, you know, I would go in kitchen and grab my husband, be like, honey, I, I say the words, and then they come out of Spider-Man’s mouth like. The I am, I am the person who has the power to be the vector of Spider-Man. And that like. Like Spider-Man. Like maybe the most recognizable, iconic pop culture figure, like possibly ever, you know? And so, like, undone moments when I feel idealistic about it, that’s really magical. And and also, I think being part of the community of creators, you know, to have to have phone calls with people, you know, when, when Danny Lore took over Champions like having those conversations with Danny, right? Having conversations with Vida, having conversations with.


Rosie Knight Two icons.


Eve L. Ewing You know, amazing. You know, like, okay, what are you doing with Miles here? What are we doing in Champions? You know, Evan North, like any. Any folks where we’re crossing over things, it’s really fun to be like, all right, what are you doing in your sandbox? And how can I make sure this matches up to my sandbox? You know, the cynical read of it is like it’s a super bazillion d fulfilling indie thriller mega corporation that, you know, I produce really good work sometimes. And and that yeah that creators have no not only compensation financially, but like even just like acknowledgment. Right. Be a little fuzzy sometimes. And you know, you all have talked a lot about it and folks can Google the horror stories of just like I’ve definitely had the experience of sitting in a, you know, not not with Black Panther but with other Marvel stuff, like sitting in a theater, watching a movie that I know is going to make a bazillion dollars and being like, is that my was that.


Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah.


Eve L. Ewing The thing from my brand. And that’s a bad feeling, you know? It’s a bad feeling. It’s also a bad feeling, I think with the way some of the TV stuff has panned out. I think for some of the writers in that room. Right, the ways that the writers room on the TV shows are are very different from traditional writers rooms. And some of the the hierarchy of power and control in decision making is really different. And I think that’s been a struggle for for some folks. So, you know, I think that the like I try to maintain a healthy reality somewhere in the middle. And, you know, maybe one day I’ll just go for Alan Moore and just.


Rosie Knight We can only aspire. Yeah, yeah.


Eve L. Ewing But that’s that’s fine, you know, maybe, maybe I’ll get there. But for now, it’s still fun. And I also, to be honest with you, I have a huge privilege of like, I have a regular day job and I’m the professor at a university. Right. I have a I had a whole other writing career before comics and I have a whole other writing career outside of comics. And that’s also an immense privilege that makes it easy for me to. Be like, okay, cool, I’m doing this and not that or I don’t feel comfortable with this or I feel icky about it, so I’m going to step away. And a lot of folks in this industry don’t have that, you know, and and so that’s why they create our own space. And, you know, Kickstarter projects and all that kind of stuff is really important. And I hope that for folks that if you go and you read a big two comic by a writer and artists that you absolutely love, like look them up and sign up for our newsletter and follow them on their socials and, you know, pledge their Kickstarter thing and buy their creator own thing because that’s it’s called creator owned because that’s what it is, right? That’s the thing that they actually control and can can make money off of. So yeah, I think it’s it’s it’s tough and I think it’s important to not be so idealistic about it, to not be on about that.


Rosie Knight Yeah, I think and I think you really summed up the two most intrinsic things about making like what we call work for hire comics, which is, yeah, we want to tell the best story and you put everything into it and the companies know that you have that excitement of. Right, exactly. Spider-Man says, or, you know, writing Godzilla something that you love like. And they are aware that you will say, okay, I’m going to sign away any ownership of this, right? Because I would love to do it. That’s the. Historically, that is the exchange that has been made between the two. And I live every day to hopefully try and make that change or evolve from the way that it was. There was a time in superhero comics where that was not the base level. That was something that came around relatively recently in the seventies when that sort of became a thing. So yeah, I think you summed it up, but it’s, it’s that really interesting thing because I, you know, I’m like, I want comics to unionize. We talk all the time about creative rights, but I’m also like, Yeah, I’ll write a fucking X-Men book. Like, I’ll do it like.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, yeah.


Eve L. Ewing I will do it right now.


Rosie Knight I will literally write the the softball X-Men miniseries. Like hire me and I’ll write and then I’ll write something into the book about unions or something.


Eve L. Ewing Yeah, right, right. I have the softball team is actually just a metaphor for the union.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. Exactly.


Eve L. Ewing No, it’s totally. It’s totally real. And I think like, you know, to a certain extent, I mean, I’m comfortable saying publicly, like, this is the least financially lucrative thing I could be doing with my time. I pretty much, pretty much do it for fun. And but not only that, I mean, like, you know. The, the impact the cultural impact that you get to have is just really tremendous. And I think that it’s for me, it’s it’s important to understand what my values are and what what I want to do. And, you know, I’ve I’ve said no to a bunch of Marvel stuff because I wasn’t excited about it or I wanted somebody else to get an opportunity or, you know, and I think the main thing is like just just recognizing this. The thing the thing being inherently exciting or a big honor doesn’t mean it’s exciting or a big honor for you. Yeah, right. And doesn’t mean it’s always a good move for you and for your time calculus and for your, you know, where you want to make your money. And I think that that’s yeah, like not letting the kind of glitz and glamor of the name recognition get you in a spot where you’re like making stuff that you’re not getting paid in a way that makes sense for your life.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Someone recently told me there’s creatively there’s a huge power in know and that is the truth.


Eve L. Ewing Yeah, yeah. It’s best.


Jason Concepcion Eve, anything to plug?


Eve L. Ewing Yes. I would like to plug a couple of things. Coming in December, Photon: Monica Rambeau, Photon number one featuring an amazing black woman. If you don’t know Monica Rambeau get to know her.


Rosie Knight Yep.


Eve L. Ewing She’s incredible. Used to be the leader of the Avengers. Now she’s trying to figure out her life. I’ve been telling people if you are like an old school Marvel fan or if you are a person who feels like you’re that underappreciated person in your life, but you’ve never read a comic book before. Like this is a comic that you will relate to. It’s about trying to figure yourself out and it’s really great. And then coming March 2023, my first ever graphic novel called Change the Game, which I co-wrote with Colin Kaepernick.


Rosie Knight Wow.


Eve L. Ewing It is coming out on Scholastic in March 2023. And for the young adult or the young adult at heart in your life.


Jason Concepcion Eve, please come back. This has been delightful.


Rosie Knight Please.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, yeah.


Rosie Knight Come back anytime.


Eve L. Ewing The honor is all mine. I really appreciate you all so much.


Jason Concepcion Big thanks to Eve L. Ewing for appearing on the program. And of course, the big thanks to Rosie Knight for co-hosting with me. Rosie, plugs, plugs, plugs, plugs, plug plugs. What do you have to plug?


Rosie Knight You can find me Rosie Marx on Instagram and Letterboxd, where I’m starting to verge into Christmas movies, so come and judge me. Yeah, I watch so many bad Christmas movies. Like I’m talking about Hallmark, Lifetime, everything that, all that, and I make them in lists. If you like hearing about Riri Williams, I have a piece up at Polygon that’s a kind of explainer of a more in-depth explainer about that. And just other cool things coming up. You can check me writing about TV and stuff, IGN and Nerdist and you can also read my comics. I have a website, because I haven’t bothered to change my URL yet, my proper name. But there you can read some free comics. You can read all of my thousands of articles. That’s not hyperbolic. And yeah. And then obviously here.


Jason Concepcion Catch the next episode on November 18th and of course subscribe to the show on YouTube. Follow @XRVpod on Twitter. Maybe not for much longer on Twitter. We’ll see about that about somewhere else. But check out the Discord meet and hang out with the other X-ray Vision fans. And of course, Rosie and I were active on there and we love to interact with you. Five star ratings. We love them. We got to have them. We need them. Here’s one from the Dot Potato, the nerd podcast we need. If there are nerd happenings, I know I can count on Jason of Rosie to not only cover it, but direct me to more resources. I’ve picked up comics, books and shows that I wouldn’t have sought out otherwise, and I owe it all to X-ray vision. Plus, they’ve got the best podcast theme song out there. Hands down, no contest. Thank you.


Rosie Knight Thank you.


Jason Concepcion X-ray Vision is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Chris Lord and Saul Rubin. The show is executive produced by myself and Sandy Girard. Our editing and sound design is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Delon Villanueva and Matt DeGroot provide video production support. Alex Reliford handles social media. Thank you Brian Vasquez for our theme music. That’s it for us, bye.