During World War II, Marvel history was made as the costumed duo of Captain America AKA Steve Rogers and his sidekick Bucky AKA James “Bucky” Barnes charged into battle against the forces of tyranny. In the war’s final days, the duo were caught in an explosion that would send them down separate paths. Barnes would be found by the Soviet Union and turned into the Winter Soldier, one of their top assassins, while Rogers would be frozen in suspended animation until his revival decades later by the Avengers. Captain America would go on to become one of the greatest heroes of the Modern Age of the Marvel Universe.
Several years, ago the duo were reunited when Steve ran into the amnesiac Winter Soldier and used the power of the Cosmic Cube to restore his old friend’s memories. Bucky was guilt ridden over his actions as an assassin, however, and found himself unable to face his former friend. Then tragedy struck as the world was led to believe that Steve Rogers had been assassinated. To honor the legacy of his friend, Barnes assumed the identity of Captain America in his quest to make up for his actions as the Winter Soldier.
In the recently concluded “Captain America: Reborn” mini-series, Barnes and Rogers were reunited. Now, they find themselves once again fighting side by side in another war that is destined to change the face of the Marvel Universe: the Siege of Asgard by led Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers. While the main battles are being chronicled in the “Siege” mini-series by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Olivier Copiel, this April, in the one-shot “Siege: Captain America,” writer Christos Gage [Avengers: The Initiative] and artist Frederico Dallocchio [“StarCraft”] focus on a particular incident involving the two Sentinels of Liberty, Steve and Bucky, and examine the current dynamic between the pair. CBR News spoke with Gage and his editor Bill Rosemann about the project.
CBR News: Christos, this isn’t the first time you’ve written a Steve Rogers adventure that ties into a big event. You also tackled the character during “Civil War” with the one-shot “Iron Man/Captain America: Casualties of War.” Is it a coincidence that you’re doing another event tie-in starring Steve, or is it just that there is something you find especially compelling about writing the character in these big events?
Christos Gage: I always find it compelling to write Steve – to me he’s Marvel’s greatest hero, the embodiment of what heroism means in the Marvel Universe. I don’t know if my prior experience writing Steve in the “Civil War” Captain America/Iron Man special influenced editor Bill Rosemann to approach me about writing this one, but this is actually more Bucky Cap’s story than Steve’s, so it’s a bit of a change of pace from the last one.
Bill Rosemann: One of Christos’ great strengths as a writer – in addition to his experience writing these characters and nailing their individual voices – is his ability to maneuver within an extremely tight storytelling space. By that I mean, if you say to Christos, “Okay, I need a story that accomplishes This Emotional Beat for this character, and I need it to take place between Panels X and Y of issue #Z,” not only can he figure out how to pull that off, but he will do so in style with a story that not only gets your pulse racing, but hits you right in the gut. It’s a rare talent, and one that should never be taken for granted or overlooked.
This story also features Bucky in his Captain America guise. Christos, is this the first time you’ve written Bucky Cap?
CG: It’s actually not my first time writing Bucky Cap, but only by a nose – the two Caps are in “Avengers: The Initiative” #34 (fighting Taskmaster!), which I wrote a couple weeks earlier. What’s interesting to me about Bucky Cap is that he approaches being Captain America in a different way than Steve Rogers. He’s been shaped by his experiences as the Winter Soldier, and also by the fact that by nature he’s more of a pragmatist than the more idealistic Steve.
That’s what’s compelling to me; both men share the same dream, the same ideals, but they take a different approach to getting there, and I find that intriguing to explore. There’s also that element of confidence Steve has – not arrogance at all, but self-assurance and comfort in his role. He’s at a point where he doesn’t really second-guess himself much, he does what has to be done, and that’s it. Bucky – especially when he’s wearing the Captain America uniform – has more questions and uncertainties, based on his troubled past as the Winter Soldier. That’s something I’ll be examining as well.
It sounds like this one-shot is very much about the dynamic between Steve and Bucky as dual Captain Americas. Is that correct? And how would you describe that dynamic at the beginning of this issue?
CG: What we’re really delving into here are Bucky’s feelings about remaining Captain America now that Steve’s back. Of course, Ed Brubaker showed us beautifully how Steve feels about it, and why he arrived at the decision he did, in “Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield.” What I’m doing is looking at how Bucky feels about it. As far as Steve’s concerned, it’s been decided: Bucky stays as Captain America. But now that they’re in the thick of battle, fighting side by side, does Bucky feel the same? Does he believe he should keep the mantle? It’s something he only picked up because, with Steve presumed dead, he didn’t think anyone else should have it – but now that Steve’s returned, does he feel he’s up to it? Does he even want it? Is he at all resentful at being asked to carry on, or is it an honor? These are some of the questions we’ll be examining.
What else you can share with us about the plot or themes of this one-shot? From whose perspective is this story told?
CG: Primarily Bucky’s, although we’ll also get some insight into Steve’s mind and also see “Siege” through the eyes of ordinary citizens of Broxton, Oklahoma.
Speaking of Brockton, what can you tell us about the settings of “Siege: Captain America?” Does this story take place entirely in present day during the course of the battle, or are there flashbacks involved?
CG: The story takes place over a very short time, at a specific moment toward the end of “Siege” #3. I can’t say more without giving too much away, but it’s one of those stories that occurs during the chaos and fog of war – a kind of story Captain America is well suited to.
What obstacles and adversaries were you interested at throwing at Steve and Bucky in this story?
CG: They’ll be facing off against enemies from “Siege,” but again, I’m limited as to what I can say by not wanting to put forth spoilers. Having said that, I did want to complicate matters for our heroes by having civilians put in harm’s way and seeing how they react. So, we’ll be meeting a civilian family – citizens of Broxton, Oklahoma – who are caught in the midst of the Siege of Asgard. I wanted to examine how ordinary, non-powered people feel about what’s going on and how it affects them – and how the heroes respond.
The artist on the story, Federico Dallocchio, is a relative newcomer. How did you discover him and what was it about his style that makes him the right fit for the one-shot?
CG: I’d seen his work before on a WildStorm book, “StarCraft,” but as good as that was, when his first pencils for this one-shot came in I was tremendously impressed. The art’s both finely detailed and viscerally hard hitting at the same time, which is the perfect feel for this story. So far he’s been great to work with.
BR: Federico’s style is a beautiful mix of gritty realism and hyper-realized heroism. Ever since I saw his work in “StarCraft” and “Gears of War,” I was itching to unleash him on Marvel characters. One of the most enjoyable aspects of being an editor is “casting” your project – finding and uniting the right voices and styles for a particular story – and if you can combine that with giving an opportunity for a deserving talent to be seen by a large amount of readers – well, that’s what this job is all about. So if you’re unfamiliar with his art, once you read this issue you’ll see that Federico is a perfect fit for Marvel and a welcome addition to the next generation of rising stars.
Ultimately, it sounds as though the tone of “Siege: Captain America” is both epic and personal to the characters involved.
CG: It’s about personal moments occurring against the backdrop of an epic setting during epic circumstances. There’s big, important stuff happening all around, but there are equally important – if less overtly earth-shattering – developments as well, and that’s our focus.