It's been nearly two years since Ta-Nehisi Coates, a lifelong comic book fan best known as a journalist and columnist whose writings on race in America have earned him a MacArthur Fellowship and a National Book Award, launched his Black Panther series at Marvel Comics.
Coates' time with the character has reinvigorated both the title hero himself and the Wakandan culture that surrounds him, and earned plenty of acclaim and a devoted fanbase. This spring, Coates will continue his Black Panther saga with a new first issue and a new direction for the character as part of Marvel's "Fresh Start" initiative, but he'll also be taking on another Marvel icon: Captain America.
Coates revealed Wednesday via a piece for The Atlantic (where he remains a national correspondent) that he's writing a new volume of Captain America, which kicks off with a new #1 issue this July. He'll be joined by Leinil Yu (Secret Invasion, Superman: Birthright) on interior art and Alex Ross (Kingdom Come, Justice, and about a million classic covers) on cover art. In his announcement, Coates discussed his lifelong love of comics, the inherent irony at work in Steve Rogers as a character, and why taking on the title scares him, in a good way.
"I have my share of strong opinions about the world. But one reason why I chose the practice of opinion journalism—which is to say a mix of reporting and opinion—is because understanding how those opinions fit in with the perspectives of others has always been more interesting to me than repeatedly restating my own," he wrote. "Writing is about questions for me—not answers. And Captain America, the embodiment of a kind of Lincolnesque optimism, poses a direct question for me: Why would anyone believe in The Dream? 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. What is exciting is the possibility of exploration, of avoiding the repetition of a voice I’ve tired of."
It's been a rough few years for Captain America. He had his Super Soldier abilities pulled out of him, only to have them later restored. Then he infamously became a Hydra sleeper agent after reality was rewritten, which led to his takeover of America in the evil order's name as part of the extremely controversial Secret Empire event. Now, he'll be in the hands of an acclaimed writer who's earned a lot of good faith at Marvel thanks to his time with Black Panther (which, Coates assures readers, he has no plans to leave).
We still don't know what to expect from Coates' run on the character in terms of story (though we'll no doubt learn more in the coming months), but this is an exciting announcement, one of those things that really might make Marvel's "Fresh Start" live up to its name.
Captain America #1 arrives July 4. Check out Ross' full cover for the first issue up top, and then below is Leinil's back cover art of he and Coates' first Cap story in the Avengers/Captain America Free Comic Book Day issue available May 5.