NYTIMES- Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author of Between the World and Me and one of the country's best-known public intellectuals, announced Wednesday (Feb 28) he would begin writing the Captain America title for Marvel Comics in July.
Coates, a longtime comics fan who began creating them a little more than two years ago, announced the news in The Atlantic, for which he is a national correspondent.
He described his vision of the character and laid out his plans for addressing what he confessed he saw as an artistic challenge. "Nothing should really scare a writer more than the moment when they are no longer scared," he wrote. "I'm not convinced I can tell a great Captain America story - which is precisely why I want so bad to try."
The writer has previously worked on Black Panther, reinvigorating the title two years before the movie based on the character became a blockbuster success. The comic sold briskly while in his hands, and one collection, Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet em , was nominated for a Hugo Award in 2017.
But Coates has not had unbridled success in comics. His spinoff series, Black Panther & the Crew, was cancelled in May after it failed to sell as well as expected.
Coates, who is widely known for his reporting and commentary on race, brought his experience with nonfiction to bear as he was writing Black Panther, taking on politics and culture in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, where the series is set. He challenged the kingdom's monarchical tradition, introduced an insurgency and questioned the Wakandan religion.
In contrast with Black Panther, Captain America is one of the oldest and best-known characters in the Marvel universe. He first appeared during World War II and is often seen as the ultimate patriot, a man dedicated to the ideals of his country and willing to fight for them no matter what.
But as Coates outlined in his announcement, Captain America, who was born Steve Rogers and is frequently referred to simply as Cap, often has an uneasy relationship with the US government. He is a more nuanced character than his film analogue, played by the actor Chris Evans, might suggest. For 15 months, starting in May 2016, the comic character was somehow the evil leader of Hydra, an organisation reminiscent of the Nazis. This could make the character an interesting match for Coates, who throughout his career has written about his complicated relationship with and views about patriotism, and has often been accused of being pessimistic about the United States' future.
In a 2016 profile of President Barack Obama, he wrote that what separated Obama from many African-Americans (including, it was implied, himself) was the ability to trust "white America."
Coates will join a small number of black writers who have taken on the character, including Christopher Priest, who worked on the series Captain America and the Falcon in 2004 and 2005.
"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," Marvel's chief editor, C.B. Cebulski, said in a statement. "After reinventing the Black Panther for the modern era, Ta-Nehisi now brings his sharp scripting sensibilities to Steve Rogers and his new place in the Marvel Universe."
In his Captain America announcement, Coates said writing the character, the embodiment of the optimism expressed in the American dream, would allow him to challenge himself. "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," he wrote. "What is exciting is the possibility of exploration, of avoiding the repetition of a voice I've tired of."
Coates will work with artists Leinil Yu, who will draw the interior panels, and Alex Ross, whose painted covers, reminiscent of Norman Rockwell, have made him a favourite of comics writers and fans. The first issue is set to be released July 4.