Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most prolific writers of his generation with multiple books about culture, politics and social issues. He is not only a national correspondent for The Atlantic, but is also the current writer of Marvel’s Black Panther series of comics.
Today, it was announced that Coates would be taking on another title while writing about Wakanda and its king; the first Avenger Captain America.
Like many people, I was puzzled when I first heard the news, but I was more curious not about whether he could do it (the man has a gift and I live for the Black Panther comics), but why. Why Captain America? Especially in a climate where creators are routinely finding themselves in the social media crosshairs of “fans” who want no one with a opinon about society at all tailoring their favorite character exclusively to their tastes.
Coates answered in the way I expected, with a piece in The Atlantic.
In the piece titled, Why I’m Writing Captain America, Coates addresses some of those questions and his answer is interesting. He talks about his conflicted history with the America that Steve Rogers believes in. He discusses the character of Rogers and how he has rebelled at times against the leadership of the country because he believes in the dream of America. Ultimately, Coates breaks down his desire to write the character as a challenge to his own opinions and perspectives saying;
“Writing, for me, is about questions—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 a rare notion to take on something you are conflicted with in order to try to understand a point of view that is not yours and I look forward to seeing Coates’ vision.
He won’t be alone in the endeavor as Marvel has brought in Leinil Yu for the interior panels and Alex Ross providing the covers.
Captain America #1 will drop July 4th.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.