“For two years I’ve lived in the world of Wakanda, writing the title Black Panther,” Coates said in an essay in The Atlantic. “I’ll continue working in that world. This summer, I’m entering a new one — the world of Captain America.”
An author, memoirist and long-time superhero fan, 2016’s Black Panther #1 was Coates’ first venture into the medium and genre, and the best-selling series has been running ever since. Some of the concepts he and artist Brian Stelfreeze came up with for the book — like the Wakandan technology of kimoyo beads — even made their way into Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther film.
Coates’ most high profile career moments have been his examinations of race in American history, and his writing on how the United States can move forward as a country struggling with deeply embedded systemic racism. It’s easy to see how all of that would be relevant when taking on a superhero who superficially embodies America but has always been used to examine the gap between what America would like to be and how it currently is — right from the moment he was created to punch Hitler in a time when the United States was very divided on whether to enter World War II.
“In one famous scene,” Coates recalls in his essay, “flattered by a treacherous general for his ‘loyalty,’ Rogers — grasping the American flag — retorts, ‘I’m loyal to nothing, general ... except the dream.’
“I confess to having a conflicted history with this kind of proclamation — which is precisely why I am so excited to take on Captain America. I have my share of strong opinions about the world. [...] 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.”
Coates will be joined on the book by veteran comics artist Leinil Yu, who will draw the comic’s interior art, and the equally lauded Alex Ross, who will craft the series’ covers. Captain America #1 will launch this summer on, of course, July 4.