Steve Rogers will always be Steve Rogers. He may well be an idealistic, anachronistic throw back to a golden age that only existed in the minds of wistful dreamers, but he is also a man driven by the principles that should, and could, make America a guiding light in increasingly troubled times. As Captain America, he pledged to defend those principles that his country was founded on, and he did so because the man behind the shield, Steve Rogers, believed in them with every fibre of his being.
While it may not exactly be in keeping with the way the zeitgeist of the modern world is shifting, for me, Cap has always been the corner stone of the Marvel Universe, a hero that you could unashamedly put your faith in and support because he stood for something bigger and better than himself. He wholeheartedly believed, and still believes, in the American dream, and no matter what his country and those who claimed to represent it did (and continue to do) to him, he refuses to stop believing that tomorrow could be better. That’s what he’s always fought for, and always will. An ideal treats all people fairly, a system in which everyone is equal and free to be who they are. Ta-Nehisi Coates knows that and he understands Steve in a way few writers do, which is why his run on Captain America continues to go from strength to strength.
The Legend of Steve finds our titular hero on the run after being framed for the murder of General Thaddeus Ross. Hunted by his former friends and colleagues and still mistrusted by a nation recovering from the events that took place during Secret Empire, Steve is given shelter by the Daughters of Liberty, a clandestine group of heroes led by Sharon Carter. With their help, in The Legend of Steve, he continues his fight against the Power Elite, the corrupt Hydra controlled governing body that secretly rules America and their lickspittle militia, the Watchdogs. Battling a supposed vigilante, a toxic police department and forced to reassess his own ideals in an increasingly fraught time, in The Legend of Steve, Cap and his allies gradually creep closer and closer to the truth behind the Power Elite and find themselves one step nearer to exposing those caught up in and to bringing the organisaton, and it’s members, crashing down.
One of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ greatest gifts as a writer is his ability to use the story he’s telling as a way to shine a light on social injustice and how society, despite claiming otherwise, vilifies and treats those whose lives it judges, for whatever illogical reason, to be of less value or importance than those of the “majority”. Captain America is the perfect literary tool for Coates to weave his magic with and do what he does best, and in The Legend of Steve he holds up a mirror to everyday America and shows the majority what life is really like for the minority. The fact that Coates is also a master of characterisation, and dialogue and is able to tell a thoroughly immersive story with ease doesn’t exactly hurt his, or Captain America’s cause and neither does the fact that on The Legend… he’s been teamed up with a bunch of artistic heavy-hitters (namely Jason Masters, Sean Izaakse, Niko Walter, Bob Quinn and Lucas Werneck) to help him tell his tale. The Legend of Steve is a street level story of Captain America taking the fight to where it needs to be taken, and it is everything that a contemporary super-hero adventure should be. Tim Cundle