John Ridley is Reviving 'The American Way' Comics for DC

The Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave is bringing back the politically charged superhero series he launched 10 years ago.

John Ridley, famous for works like 12 Years a Slave and American Crime, announced he’s reviving his DC Comics’s series The American Way with a new six-part miniseries, called The American Way: Those Above and Those Below.

“On the 10-year anniversary of the series, it feels both fantastic and appropriate to be able to return to The American Way,” Ridley said. “Though I have been very blessed over the last decade in both film and television, there is a very special sense of accomplishment that comes with seeing your work on display at the local comics shop. I’m so thankful to everyone at DC for giving both me and our many fans the opportunity to revisit the stories, themes and perspectives that were such an integral part of The American Way.”

The original eight-part miniseries, from 2006, takes place in a parallel history of the United States where the government has created its own superheroes who could fight aliens, villains, and communism. A black hero named the New American is added to the team in 1962, and national racial tensions arise. Ridley said it was inspired by President Lyndon Johnson’s desire to include a black person in the Mercury Space Program.

We’ve seen an increase in diversity in comic books over the past few years, especially with the Marvel NOW! initiative that’s given us a female Iron Man, a black Captain America and a Muslim-American Ms. Marvel, among others. As a result, we’ve also seen a increased pushback against what some call an agenda to force diversity into comic books and video games. Still, that hasn’t deterred comic book companies from branching out and giving more groups representation, and the revival of Ridley’s series is a welcome addition.

The new series will start up in 1972, during what DC calls “the year of Richard Nixon, Angela David, Watergate and the Weather Underground, when social and political tensions in America were at an all-time high.” It’ll be interesting to see how Ridley’s story approaches 1970s America, especially given that there’s already a parallel universe superhero story that stems from the Nixon era: Watchmen.

The American Way: Those Above and Those Below launches summer 2017 with DC Vertigo.