When World War II broke out in the Marvel Universe, the Allied nations either enlisted or created super heroes to help them fight the Axis powers. Two of the Allies’ most effective super operatives were Captain America and his teen partner Bucky. Cap, aka Steve Rogers, was the product of a secret government experiment to create a super soldier who took on Nazi agents with his enhanced physical attributes and unbreakable shield. His star spangled costumed and “never say die” attitude made him an invaluable symbol, as well. As Bucky, James Buchanan Barnes was a highly trained youth tasked with protecting Cap’s symbolic status by taking on the brutal and often dirty work that wars require.
At the end of the War, Captain America and Bucky disappeared and were presumed dead, but both would surface once more, years later. Cap was discovered frozen in suspended animation by the Avengers and would go on to become one of the modern day Marvel U’s greatest heroes. Bucky also spent time in suspended animation when he was between jobs as a brainwashed assassin for his soviet captors. Several years back, Cap freed his partner and restored his memories, a favor Bucky repaid by becoming Captain America when the world believed Steve Rogers to be dead.
Bucky continued on in the role Captain America after Rogers was revealed to be alive, but his past as a Soviet assassin came to light and in the opening chapter of the current “Captain America” arc, “Gulag,” he was sent to a Russian military prison. Steve Rogers is about to put a plan into action to rescue his former partner, the results of which will set the stage for two new series that will launch in July: “Captain America and Bucky,” which will maintain the numbering of the current volume of “Captain America,” and a new “Captain America” series launching with a #1 issue. Longtime “Captain America” scribe Ed Brubaker, who is signed to write one series and co-write the other, spoke with CBR News about both titles.
CBR News: Ed, you have some fans who are passionate about your work with Steve Rogers, some that are passionate about your work with Bucky Barnes and some who find both characters equally exciting. Plus, this July, you’ll hopefully have some new fans interested in the world of Cap thanks to the release of the Captain America feature film. It sounds like these two new series “Captain America and Bucky” and the new ongoing “Captain America” are designed to give everybody what they want and need to enjoy the world of Cap.
Ed Brubaker: Sort of, I guess. The fact is, Marvel would be crazy not to have a new “Captain America” #1 out there when the movie opens, and it was really fun for me to figure out a way to build on my fairly lengthy run on the book that would also read like a perfect jumping on point for new readers or people who’d just seen the movie and want to try a Cap comic. I’m hoping, since it’s a Cap #1, they’ll have no trouble finding it
We didn’t want to lose the original Cap book, either, since we only went back to the original numbering a few years ago. Doing the Cap and Bucky book lets us keep that alive, and gives us a place to do different kinds of stories that still tie-in perfectly to the long-term continuity I’ve been building for Steve and Bucky all these years.
Before we get to July, we have your “Gulag” story which began in “Captain America” #616. When you pick up the story in Cap #617, it splits into two stories and follows both Bucky’s perspective in the main story and Steve’s perspective in a back up tale. What made you want to tell this story this way instead of as one narrative? How connected are Steve and Bucky’s individual tales?
I knew in July that everything was changing and that I only had four issues to tell the whole story, so I asked if I could use all 30 pages for those issues. This allowed me to give various supporting characters their own chapters. It’s similar to what I did in issues 26 – 30, actually, but this time its more of a thriller plot, sort of. It’s not so much a main story and a back up story; it’s 30 pages of story each issue, starting with issue #616.
Are you able to talk at all about what type of book the new “Captain America” series will be? Will we get stories with the same sort of mix of superhero and military style action that we’ve seen in the current series?
I think so, in some crazier ways than I’ve done before. The first story ties heavily into a botched secret mission in WW2, but it’s nuts. I found some hidden Marvel stuff when I was researching “The Marvels Project,” and I was waiting for a place to use it. And with Steve McNiven drawing the book, I am adapting to things he’s good at, and writing action scenes more suited to his sensibilities.
From what Marvel’s told us so far, “Captain America and Bucky” sounds as though it’s just as much about Bucky’s past as it is his present. What can you tell us about that? Is it a series where the action will unfold regularly both in the present and in the past via flashbacks?
A bit, yeah. The first arc covers a lot of history in a sort of Bucky Year One kind of way, but not really, since it goes from before he was Bucky until deep into his Winter Soldier days.
Are you able to comment, hint, or tease on the significance of the title? How big a role does Captain America play in this series?
The significance is simply that it’s a book about Captain America and Bucky. The first arc is told from Bucky’s POV, is the main difference.
What is it like co-writing the series with Marc Andreyko? Is one of you plotting and the other scripting, or is your collaboration not as clear cut as that? And what do you feel Chris Samnee brings to this book as an artist?
Marc and I plot out the issues together to a scene by scene breakdown, then he writes the first draft, then we both rewrite and polish. Sometimes I’ll cut out a scene and write a new one in its place, or move stuff around, or condense stuff. It’s a very fluid balance so far. If we pull it off, it’ll be like you’re getting the best parts of what each of us does.
As for Chris, I think he’s one of the best storytellers in the business. Every time you see more of his work, you can see him just taking leaps and bounds forward in his abilities. I’ve been trying to get him on a project for a while, and he’s killing on this stuff.
Your run on “Secret Avengers” is coming to an end. You seemed to be setting up a long form story about the battle between Steve Rogers and the mysterious Shadow Council. Do your long term plans call for a return to this story in either the new “Captain America” series or “Captain America and Bucky?”
Possibly, but it depends on a lot of factors, such as how much the guys taking over “Secret Avengers” plan to do with the Shadow Council. I leave it very open for them at the end of issue 12.
As we mentioned earlier, July isn’t just a big month because two new Captain America titles are being released, it’s also when “Captain America: The First Avenger” hits theaters. I know other Marvel creators have done consultant type work on Marvel films. Were you involved at all with the Cap film?
Not really. I had a lot of family stuff going on last year, so I wasn’t even able to go out to the set when I was invited, sadly. I’m very excited to see the movie, though. Bendis tells me I’m going to love it, and I heard from people at Marvel that the director mentioned liking my Cap comics.