X-Men superstar Jonathan Hickman has revealed Marvel passed on the opportunity to introduce the Next Avengers’ son of Black Panther and Storm!
Marvel canceled plans to introduce the son of Black Panther and Storm in X-Men comics. It’s easy for modern readers to forget there was a time when Black Panther and Storm were essentially viewed as Marvel’s ultimate power couple, with Marvel retconning a love story that had been part of their lives since they were teenagers. Then, in 2008, Marvel released an animated movie called Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, which introduced the children of the Avengers.
The Next Avengers technically became Marvel Comics canon courtesy of Brian Bendis in 2010, and one of their most popular members was Azari, son of Black Panther and Storm. A uniquely powerful mutant, he had inherited the abilities of both his parents and they’d been enhanced through his use of Vibranium technology – he used a belt that he could convert into a staff, channeling electricity through it. Unfortunately, the Next Avengers only appeared in the comics in a time travel story and seem to have been forgotten after that.
But it seems Azari almost became part of the mainstream Marvel Universe, during Jonathan Hickman’s tenure as head of the X-Men books. In a recent interview with Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, he revealed his original plan for last year’s Giant-Size X-Men specials, which began with a story centered on Storm and culminated in a rather odd arc involving a realm called the World, where time operates differently. Storm would have learned she was pregnant with T’Challa’s child, but because of how the World works, Azari would have grown up without ever knowing Storm or Black Panther. Though the story was fairly far along, even having half of the complete issue drawn, it was scrapped because Marvel had other plans for Black Panther that would have been complicated by Azari’s existence. Hickman concludes by claiming that the Giant-Size X-Men specials that this story would be a part of were quite messy.
Hickman is right when he says the Giant-Size X-Men specials were something of a mess; the first issue was still a strong one, mostly because the psychic rescue was simply an opportunity for artist Russell Dauterman to flex his creative muscles and tell a visually beautiful story without any dialogue, but they soon felt as though they lost their way. It’s rather a shame Marvel changed direction because it would have been great to incorporate Azari into the main Marvel timeline. What’s more, this does help explain why Storm felt like something of a background character for a while – because the X-Men writers were having to change their plans for her.
Hickman appears to be hinting at a conflict arc between Wakanda and Krakoa, one Azari would have resolved. This was hinted at in the first phase of X-Men books, with Wakanda rejecting a trade deal with Krakoa because they “do not need mutant drugs” – and the X-Men secretly undermining Black Panther’s leadership, with X-Force #1 revealing the mutants were secretly working towards regime change in non-allied nations such as Wakanda. It remains to be seen whether that particular X-Men arc involving Storm and Black Panther will be forgotten due to the change in direction, or whether it will go ahead regardless.
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