Captain America may have been the Marvel Universe’s first super soldier, but he certainly hasn’t been the last. Over the years, a number of secret programs have been inspired by the process through which Steve Rogers was turned into a living symbol of his country’s ideals, and many have tried their hand at turning other soldiers into super-powered weapons.
This September, writer Rick Remender and new series artist Carlos Pacheco kick off a new arc in “Captain America” #11, exploring how far Cap is willing to go when one of these soldiers goes rogue. We spoke with Remender and Pacheco about the arc which features the super soldier known as Nuke, and the introduction of the mysterious Weapon Minus Program
CBR News: Let’s kick things off with the big news, Rick — you’re working with Carlos Pacheco on this new arc. What do you feel he brings to the book and this arc in particular?
Rick Remender: I’m a big fan of Carlos’ work going back to his work on books like “Starjammers” and “Avengers Forever.” He has a very crisp and clean style and is very versatile. He’s a great fit, because when we come back to Earth in this next arc, I want there to be this crisp and clean aesthetic. Editor Tom Brevoort and I spent a lot of time looking at the work of a lot of artists and decided on Carlos to get the book back to a classic Captain America feel. Issue #11 will be sort of a brand-new day for “Captain America.”
Plus, Carlos is an amazing storyteller with a dynamic style. We’ve got a lot of exciting stuff coming up in this arc, including the Weapon Minus Program, Doctor Mind Bubble, the Iron Nail, and in the center of it all is Nuke. I think when people see what Carlos has been doing, they’ll be blown away. I know I have been.
Carlos, What’s it like working with Rick? Which elements of his scripts do you find especially appealing as an artist?
Carlos Pacheco: He does a wonderful job with characterization for Cap, who comes from the first half of 20th Century. He’s a man that comes from a different era, different time, different way of living — and you cannot change this easily. His present identity is marked profoundly by all his sentimental education.
And Rick loves Zola! [Laughs]
I think we are in a new artistic direction for the character. He has been a superhero in an American flag. Those red, white and blues are the colors of a No-Doubt-He-Is-The-Good-Guy character, but Cap is also a soldier — he wore a Marine outfit during the Second World War. Now, he’s still a Marine. A modern one — and he will need to look like this. To be a soldier is his job. We cannot forget he’s a “Captain” and not on a baseball team.
Captain America is definitive authority incarnated in a man. This has to be shown in every panel where he appears. He was born to be a leader. There are no questions after his orders are given — except if you are Hawkeye. That’s why I love Clint Barton so much [Laughs].
Rick, you mentioned that Nuke, the rogue super soldier created by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, will play a significant role in this arc. What do you find intriguing about the character? What kind of potential do you see in him?
Remender: Tom Brevoort and I worked hard to find a new angle for Nuke. He is sort of a Captain America of a different era who was abused and his mind was shattered. So he’s still a soldier and a patriot, but he’s absolutely lost the plot. His mind is so fried and he’s been through so many experiments and taken so many of these drugs that give him all of his strength.
He’s almost like a Captain America from the Iran-Contra era; a time when the government was doing things that they maybe shouldn’t have been. He was a victim of that. I like playing with the patriot who is misguided, but at the same time truly believes that the mission he is on is a sound one.
In Nuke’s case, the mission that he’s on is to win all of the wars that it seems that America lost or walked away from in disgrace. Of course, there’s something deeper to that, and we’re going to find out who’s pulling the strings on Nuke and what’s going on in the background.
The first stage, though, is that Nuke is out there and he is reigniting long-dormant conflicts in the name of the United States, which doesn’t go over well and draws in Captain America.
So this is moving the character away from the Scourge identity we last saw him in as a member of the Thunderbolts.
Remender: Absolutely. He’s back to being Nuke.
Carlos, what can you tell us about your interpretation of Nuke?
Pacheco: As far as I understand, Nuke is a weapon — as unpredictable as a weapon is, and a weapon needs a war. Captain America is a man that look for peace — that’s his goal. Nuke is a man that battles for the sake of having wars. He needs them.
If there’s no a war to fight, Cap would do something like help people buy houses, like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” — Nuke would be more like Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now.”
Rick, you mentioned the Weapon Minus Program — what can you tell us about the mysterious organization?
Remender: The idea is that this was a program that was instigated and put together right around the same time as the Weapon Plus Program, but they’re two separate initiatives.
I don’t want to give away too much, but the head of the Weapon Minus Program had a very clear and simple motivation in instigating the program. It was to make countermeasures for the Weapon Plus Program. The Weapon Plus Program was completely unaware of the Weapon Minus Program’s existence, but anytime they created a new weapon, Weapon Minus was then given the schematics to go to work creating a countermeasure; an antitheses basically.
Essentially, they were a failsafe for the Weapon Plus Program.
Remender: Yes. They had been shut down and forgotten about, but then something happens to sort of reawaken it.
Secret government programs and rogue super soldiers suggest a shadowy tale. Carlos, what can you tell us about the overall look of the story? What kind of feelings are you hoping to convey with your art?
Pacheco: As an artist, my definitive objective is to show all the emotions and visual events the writer needs to show. Honestly, I want to be capable of drawing everything!
Remender: This is classic “Captain America.” The country and our standing in the world is at risk. There is a fellow super soldier out there doing some terrible things. He’s completely misguided, but he isn’t necessarily evil. Then, we’ve got a new villain in the Iron Nail, who will be revealed. We’ve got a new assassin in Doctor Mind Bubble, who will also be revealed. We’ll also see a lot of other familiar faces from Cap’s past, and we’ll see Cap dealing with the ramifications of Dimension Z, which are many.
It’s almost like a “Bourne Identity”-style story involving a rogue agent that needs to be taken down. Nuke is the Bourne character and Cap is the guy coming after him to take him down.
Tonally, it’s going to be similar to that as well. I did a crazy, sci-fi epic and now I’m going to take things back to ground-level and focus in on a classic Captain America story.
Artist Carlos Pacheco joins continuing writer Rick Remender on “Captain America” with September’s issue #11.