Ta-Nehisi Coates, the man who breathed new life into the Black Panther years before the box office-breaking film, has been tapped by Marvel Comics to pen one of its most iconic characters, Captain America, with interior and cover art from Leinil Yu and Alex Ross, respectively. Coates made the announcement Wednesday in The Atlantic.
Coates is still a relative newcomer to the medium, but his celebrated reinvention of Black Panther two years ago inspired enough confidence for Marvel’s chief editor C. B. Cebulski to enlist the Atlantic correspondent to tackle the patriotic shield-wielder. “Finding the right voice to tell the tales of Marvel’s beloved characters is never an easy task, but when it came time to hire the new hand to guide Captain America, we just knew it had to be Ta-Nehisi Coates,” said Cebulski.
Known as one of the premiere American intellectuals, especially in the field of race relations, Coates brought his insight to Black Panther through questioning the Wakandan monarchy and religion while creating an insurgency within the fictional African nation. The first collected volume of his run on the series was nominated for a Hugo award.
Coates will now take on the unique challenge of writing for a character literally drenched in patriotism, though he has never truly been defined by the nation he personifies. Tackling such a diverse character who doesn’t speak directly to the black experience is a challenge Coates seems ready to take head on. “Nothing should scare a writer more than the moment when they are no longer scared. … I’m not convinced I can tell a great Captain America story—which is precisely why I want so bad to try,” said Coates, who was a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2015. He continued, “What is exciting here is not some didactic act of putting my words in Captain America’s head, but attempting to put Captain America’s words in my head.”
Coates’ relationship to and views on patriotism should produce a singular version of Cap than any other so far, as he explores how his and the character’s relationship to the stars and stripes co-mingle on the page. He has a tough task in the introduction of his Captain America, at least due to the American hero’s recent history of operating as the head of the Third Reich stand-in Hydra. Fans will have to wait in anticipation to see how far Cap comes back toward the personified and complicated representation of the American dream the hero has represented in Coates’ hands.
We won’t have to wait long, though. The first issue of Coates’s run on Captain America is scheduled for release on July 4.
Find Paste’s updated run-down of Marvel’s “Fresh Start” relaunch right here, and see Ross’ cover art for Captain America #1 below.