Last week, Marvel Comics announced that Steve Rogers will hang up the shield of comic book superhero Captain America in November. He will be replaced by Sam Wilson, the man who has been Captain America’s longtime friend and fellow crime fighter, The Falcon. This change from a long-standing white comics character to a new, African American figure is reminiscent of the announcement that Miles Morales, who was of African American and Latino descent, would don the mask of Spider-Man back in 2011. However, while the new Spider-Man was met with a mixture of support and condemnation, the announcement of Wilson’s assuming the mantle of Captain American seems to have been met with a more even-keeled response.
Issues of the forthcoming Captain America story line will join Amistad’s Comics and Graphic Novels Collection, but they won’t be the first instances of a Black “Captain America.” In 2003, Marvel published a seven-issue series entitled Truth: Red, White & Black, which overlaid the origins of the Captain America character and the horrors of the real-life Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments. Written by Robert Morales with artwork by Kyle Baker, the series examined the U.S. government’s experimentation on African American soldiers during World War II to perfect the super serum used to turn Steve Rogers into Captain America. Morales and Baker provided a powerful examination of American heroic iconography, and while Sam Wilson as Captain America may not take such a close look at issues of race, his assuming the red, white, and blue outfit reflects continuing positive changes in the comics industry with respect to diversity.
Amistad’s comics collection contains both the original seven-issue run of Truth, as well as the collected edition.
Posted by Christopher Harter
(Image from the Amistad Research Center. May not be reproduced without permission.)