Acclaimed author and educator Ta-nehisi Coates takes over writing duties on Marvel’s Star-Spangled Avenger, trying to bring Steve Rogers back after the world was tricked into believing he joined HYDRA.

Captain America 1
Written by Ta-nehisi Coates
Art by Leinil Francis Yu

Though I usually have no interest in Marvel Comics, I felt drawn to pick this up. I think the last time I picked up something from Marvel, it was Ed Brubaker’s run on Cap, including Steve Rogers’ death. So all these years later, after everyone thought Captain America joined HYDRA and wreaked a whole bunch of havoc, Captain America is back again and trying to salvage his good name.

From reading Twitter and other comics sites, I have a pretty good idea of what’s been going on with Cap during Nick Spencer’s run on the book, but detailed knowledge of the recent past of the Marvel Universe really isn’t necessary to enjoy this new number one from Coates. He does a pretty good job of laying out the immediate situation for Cap – he’s America’s symbol of hope, and it’s been tarnished by the actions of an evil double. The people who know Steve Rogers still believe in him, but the regular folks… they’re not sure who or what to believe, and it’s a crisis of confidence that wounds Captain America deeply.

That Coates’ first issue is completely accessible even to a Marvel neophyte like myself is a good sign for whatever story he has planned, and the new villains that he’s introducing here. It’s also a nice touch that Cap is no longer sanctioned by the U.S. government, which is a nice tie-in to the character’s status in the Marvel movies. Though I’m not sure how important it is to have the comics and the movies line up that much.

There’s a lot of action in this new number one, but the main arc here is clearly very personal to Steve Rogers, as he looks to reestablish his place in the Marvel Universe. With the fantastic art of Leinil Yu punctuating his words, I’m looking forward to the rest of the story.