In 1941’s “Captain America Comics” #1, creators Jack Kirby and Joe Simon introduced readers to a new costumed champion. The titular character had been transformed from weak Steve Rogers into the ultimate fighting man through a super soldier serum. Armed with an indomitable will, a wealth of combat skills and an unbreakable shield, Captain America took on the agents of the Axis Powers that menaced the Marvel Universe during World War II. His bravery during the war was an inspiration to the Allied Forces and other Marvel heroes, but while on a final mission at the end of the war, Cap disappeared and was presumed dead. An explosion had plunged Cap into the icy depths of the North Atlantic where he was frozen in a block of ice, the Super Soldier serum keeping him alive.
In 1964’s “Avengers” #4 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the titular team woke Steve Rogers from his frozen slumber and asked the Living Legend of World War II to join their team. Cap did just that, but he found the modern world to be a strange place. Everyone he had cared for had aged or died. He felt like a man out of time.
If Cap felt like an anachronism even though only about two decades had passed between the end of World War II and “Avengers” #4, imagine what he would feel like if the Avengers only recovered him several years ago. Starting this November, writer Mark Waid and artist Jorge Molina update the tale of Captain America’s reemergence into the modern world with the five issue miniseries “Captain America: Man Out of Time.” CBR News spoke with Waid about the project, which was announced yesterday at the Mondo Marvel panel at the Comic-Con International in San Diego.
CBR News: Mark, in the late ’90s you wrote a highly acclaimed run on “Captain America.” You returned to the world of Cap with your story in “Captain America” #600, but with “Man Out of Time” you’re coming back to the character in a big way. How does that feel?
Mark Waid: Challenging but empowering. It’s daunting telling Steve Rogers stories when the most excellent Ed Brubaker has so defined Captain America for the 21st century, but I’m willing to raise my game. Also, Jorge Molina, is doing some astounding work and I cannot wait for readers to see his artwork on this project. Man, he makes me look good!
“Man Out of Time” will update and expand upon the story of Captain America waking up in modern times. What made you want to tackle this particular Cap story?
Exactly that. That time period, that circumstance. To be able to retell that event with an eye towards casting Steve Rogers as a King Arthur who has awakened at his country’s time of greatest need – that’s an opportunity you don’t pass up.
When this story was originally told, only about two decades had passed since Cap’s disappearance, but now, with this story, Cap will have been in suspended animation for around sixty years. How would you describe Steve’s state of mind upon waking up in the future? I assume it’s even more of a profound shock – will the adaptability that Steve learned during World War II aid him in understanding his new environment?
In the sliding scale of Marvel Time, more like nearly sixty years. And to Steve, he literally blinked. That’s it. He has no memory of being asleep on ice. All he knows is that he’s been flash-transported into the far future, and he’s not entirely sure it’s not all some colossal dream. Still, he’s an adaptive man. [Tom] Brevoort and I both agree that Cap, a guy who’s been to Atlantis and whose best friend was a flaming android, could probably make a cellphone call if you just showed him how. He can operate a microwave. What he can’t do as well is hide his delighted surprise at how racial equality and sexual equality have progressed, for instance – or his dour surprise at how violent and angry America has become.
With Cap being frozen so long he’ll have missed some pivotal moments in history, and I know many readers will wonder about Steve’s thoughts on things like Vietnam, the moon landing, Watergate, etc. Will you have room to address things like that in this story?
No, that’s really the whole point of this series, to get inside Steve’s head. We won’t necessarily be taking him through “We Didn’t Start The Fire” verse by verse, but it is a rude awakening for Steve in many aspects
What can you tell us about how the world initially reacts to Cap’s return? Is he seen as a messiah-like figure?
Exactly the opposite. In 1964, when this story was first told, everyone reacted with glee to his return, largely because most Americans knew who he was and had missed him. In modern times, most citizens, if they know him at all, regard him as a myth from the past and, today, probably just some actor hired as a cynical publicity stunt to generate goodwill for this new team New Yorkers have been hearing about called “The Avengers.”
What else can you tell us about the plot and themes of this story? Is this mainly a tale of Cap experiencing and connecting to the modern world, or will Steve have to contend with the scheme of a supervillain?
Brevoort and I came to the same conclusion independently; we both want some good Captain America action in this, but it seems hokey and familiar to build an overarching plot on the nefarious machinations of some supervillain. This is more of an internal story. With shield-slinging.
Who are some of the supporting players we’ll be seeing?
The original Avengers, natch. Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, probably. Rick Jones, definitely.
Finally, how would you describe the tone and scope of “Man Out of Time?” It seems like a very personal tale for Steve Rogers, but it also seems like a pretty big tale in that it’s his introduction to the modern day Marvel Universe?
Funny, I’d never regarded it that way until you just said something. Note to self: think more about how the FF and other non-Avengers would react to the news of Cap’s revival.