Well, Will Smith has a string of huge hits in which he played different types of characters, and there are other bankable African-American stars, so I don't think audience identification would necessarily be a problem for a series of Black Panther
films if they were well made.
As far as the sales for Priest's Black Panther
, it should be pointed out that in the current comics marketplace a 62-issue run is actually very good for most characters.
Increasing diversity in comics is a laudable goal, as is providing black and Latino characters who are positive role models (and in that light, did everybody hear about the Comic-Con announcement that the Milestone characters will be introduced into the DC Universe, with Static joining the Teen Titans and Icon slated to join the Justice League?). And if the stories are well written there's really no reason for this type of thing to come off as gimmicky.
But I think Hudlin does a disservice to this cause as his writing is so clumsy. Wakanda as a rich, advanced African nation is a fine idea, and some of the criticisms on those Live Journal pages don't ring true (like an isolated, landlocked country becoming advanced being illogical) since comics have always included elements that don't make real world sense and need a large dose of suspension of disbelief. But a Wakanda that has the cure to cancer but won't share it and has plenty of oil but doesn't drill it because all of its energy needs are met with green technologies comes off as wanky nonsense.
It strikes me that in putting forward positive representations of an African country and an African hero that Hudlin is overcompensating and often going so far over the top that it sabotages his goals by making the Panther and all of Wakanda uber-Mary Sues. The poor dialogue really doesn't help either.
Now, obviously discussion of the series has been racially charged on some message boards - which I hadn't been aware of until this thread prompted me to look around - and some of the criticisms of the series have been framed in racist terms, which it seems has unfortunately led to a situation where some dismiss all criticism of the series as being the result of racism. Well, no, however much some may like the series, and however out of line some of the comments on message boards may have been, there is a valid point of view towards the series that is very critical.