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Ta-Nehisi Coates is taking over Captain America

Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Author, journalist, and comics writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has already been entrusted with steering the legacy of Black Panther on the page, but it looks like he won’t stay in Wakanda. In a new column in The Atlantic, the National Book Award winner says he’s getting ready to tackle another Avenger.

In 2015, Marvel announced that Coates would write Black Panther ahead of the character’s onscreen debut in Captain America: Civil War. That led to two spin-offs, including Black Panther & The Crew, though that title’s since been canceled. Now Coates says continuing to live his childhood dream of writing comics means taking on one of Marvel’s most prominent titles: Captain America. The We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy author admits he finds the new assignment daunting, in part because “drawing with words” seems an impossible task. Coates is also given pause by who Captain America is and what he represents, which for many is the mythical American dream: “I confess to having a conflicted history with this kind of proclamation.” But these challenges are also precisely why he wants to write the book going forward:

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.


Artists Leinil Yu and Alex Ross will provide the interior panels and covers, respectively. Coates’ acknowledgments include his Black Panther editors Sana Amanat and Wil Moss, as well as the black comics pioneers who inspired him, creators like Christopher Priest, Denys Cowan, and Dwayne McDuffie. The first book under Coates’ leadership, Captain America #1, hits stands July 4.

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