art from marvel comics’s black panther and the crew. art by a kubert and jh williams iii, respectively.
–Eminem, “Who Knew”
Who is Christopher Priest?
Some would say that Priest is your favorite writer’s favorite writer.
Others would say that Priest was the first black editor at both Marvel and DC, in that order. He edited Spider-Man, hired Peter David, had an interesting run on Power Man & Iron Fist (which is practically the patron comic of this site, huh?), and was the source of no end of racial tension at ’80s era Marvel through no fault of his own. At DC, he wrote The Ray and served as liason for Milestone Comics. He had stints filling in on JLA, and wrote his own JLA series. He wrote Quantum & Woody at Acclaim and had a few ill-received series at Marvel after that. Excepting Black Panther, of course.
Black Panther is probably the book that most people love Priest for. He managed to successfully weave action with political intrigue, Kirby-esque plots, superheroic cameos, and romance into one cohesive whole. It wasn’t a perfect run, far from it, but Priest was never afraid to try new things over the course of his five year run. Whether it was reconciling the Kirby-era Panther with the new modern one or revealing that Panther originally joined the Avengers to spy on them, Priest was throwing out ideas at a rapid pace and hitting on almost every single one.
He’s been kind of pigeonholed as a “black writer,” but Priest is the kind of writer who could write a killer Batman or Amanda Waller book. He knows plots and he knows how to work continuity. It’s a shame that people wanted him to fit into a little box, because he can do so much.
After the last of his Marvel work dried up, Priest took a break from comics. I say “took a break” because I want him to come back.