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SHIELD OF FREEDOM Part 5: Steve Rogers Lives!

by  in Comic News Comment
SHIELD OF FREEDOM Part 5: Steve Rogers Lives!
“Marvel Adventures: The Avengers” #21 on sale March 20

In our weeklong exploration of Captain America, CBR News has chatted with Marvel editor Tom Brevoort, “Avengers” writer Brian Michael Bendis, and the “Captain America” creative team of artist Steve Epting and writer Ed Brubaker about the death of Steve Rogers and the debut of the new Captain America, Bucky Barnes. Today in the final part of SHIELD OF FREEDOM, we look at a world where Steve Rogers didn’t die and still leads Earth’s Mightiest Heroes into battle, as we talk with “Marvel Adventures: Avengers” writer Marc Sumerak.

For Sumerak, one of the best things about writing “Marvel Adventures: Avengers” is the chance to tell stories starring the Star Spangled Avenger. “Cap has always been a favorite character of mine. I think it’s because he’s the kind of guy we all aspire to be,” Marc Sumerak told CBR News. “Physically, mentally and morally, there isn’t anyone stronger than Steve Rogers–and that has made him a very endearing character for over half a century. To me, Captain America is really the ultimate hero. He’s a man who fights for what he believes in — and those beliefs don’t waver, no matter how unpopular they may be. He has a specific vision for what this country is all about, and though we’ve definitely seen him adapt to modern times over the years, the core of that vision has never changed. And he’s proven that time and time again by facing off against the very government he’s sworn to protect at the times when he has felt that they’ve gone off course. No guts, no glory, right?”

The Steve Rogers that stars in Sumerak’s book is almost identical to his recently deceased Marvel Universe counterpart. “He’s still the time-lost soldier from WWII looking to fit into the world of today,” Sumerak explained. “But when the ‘MA: Avengers’ series started, Cap was already a part of the team, so the bulk of that adjustment period had already happened off-panel.

Pages from “Marvel Adventures: The Avengers” #21

“Being a ‘man out of time’ definitely affects some of the decisions that Cap makes and the way he thinks about certain situations,” Sumerak continued. “But it isn’t something that has really taken center stage in recent issues of ‘MA: Avengers.’ At this point of the series, he’s already fairly well adapted to the modern world. That’s not to say he agrees with all of the things going on around him (or even necessarily understands all of it), but his job is to be a soldier and a leader–and that’s a job that isn’t really hasn’t changed all that much from his first tour of duty. No matter what time period he may be living in, nothing has changed what drives Cap — and that’s his fight for justice, freedom, and all the other ideals he feels this country embodies. Sure, there will always be moments where you realize that Cap thinks and acts differently than the rest of his teammates because he literally comes from a different era and a different generation. That’s a given. But that hasn’t stopped him from being an effective leader and a good friend to all of his fellow Avengers.”

Captain America’s leadership and concern for his teammates are the chief reasons why Sumerak considers him the heart of the “MA: Avengers” team. “He’s the character that all of the other heroes look up to,” Sumerak stated. “He’s the master strategist, the fearless leader, the father figure. He’s what holds the team together. But he also realizes that a captain is only as good as the soldiers around him, so he knows how to rely on his fellow heroes and to pull all of their strengths together in the most effective way to save the day. That’s just one of the many reasons all of the other Avengers (yes, even Iron Man!) respect Cap as much as they do.”

Pages from “Marvel Adventures: The Avengers” #21

The other Avengers may respect Cap but that doesn’t mean they won’t occasionally question his orders. “For instance, Wolverine has his own methods of solving problems– and they’re a lot more direct (and potentially more violent) than Cap’s methods,” Sumerak remarked. “Logan doesn’t take too kindly when he has to follow orders that go against his gut. So when he breaks rank, it’s Cap that has to reel him back in. While there’s no animosity between them, they sometimes find themselves at odds. That kind of thing happens on any team. But at the end of the day, they are all fighting for the same cause, and despite their different approaches, they manage to come together when they’re needed the most.”

In “Marvel Adventures: The Avengers” #21 (on sale February 20), Cap and his team find themselves face to face with a familiar armored menace from the former Soviet Union. “‘Issue #21 features an attack on Stark Tower by the Crimson Dynamo!” Sumerak confirmed. “He’s come all the way from Russia to take down Iron Man–but Cap and the rest of the Avengers aren’t about to let this Cold War relic get anywhere near their tech-savvy teammate. Meanwhile, another familiar Russian has also been watching the Avengers, but no one knows what she wants–or whether or not she can be trusted.”

Sumerak isn’t giving his team the day off after the their encounter with the Crimson Dynamo.  The following two issues of “MA: Avengers” send Steve Rogers’s crew on adventures during which they’ll encounter a host of familiar friends and foes. “In ‘MA: Avengers #22’, we’re taking the team to Wakanda to chase after an old foe of Wolverine’s who is stalking the jungle. This issue should have some fun moments between Cap and the current monarch of Wakanda, King T’Challa,” Sumerak remarked. “Following that, issue #23 will see Cap forming a brand new team of Avengers to help him rescue the original team members (who have been abducted by a mysterious alien foe). This issue really gives Cap a chance to shine and shows how his leadership skills work beyond the borders of the team’s standard line-up. He brings together a bunch of different personalities that have never worked together before and still manages to shape them into heroes worthy of wearing the Avengers name. That’s pretty impressive–especially when you see some of the heroes who make the cut.”

Pages from “Marvel Adventures: The Avengers” #21

Super powered slugfests aren’t the only story elements in “MA: Avengers.” The book gives readers glimpses into the tumultuous private lives of the team as well. “MA: Avengers’ hearkens back to the classic Avengers tales that I grew up reading,” Sumerak explained. “There are plenty of fun super-hero battles and lots of old-school action–but there’s also a healthy does of the ‘soap opera’ elements that made the Avengers of yore so much fun to read. The characters’ personal relationships are just as important as their powers–and that’s what makes the team dynamic so exciting and unique. So expect a nice balance of action and drama, all wrapped up in nice 22-page ‘done-in-one’ stories!”

The exploits of Sumerak’s Avengers team are published as part of the “all ages” “Marvel Adventures” line that doesn’t mean they’re stories strictly for kids. “These stories are meant for any reader that has a hankering for some classic super hero action. ‘MA: Avengers’ is the perfect book for anyone — young or old –who wants to see some of their favorite Marvel characters on some amazing adventures,” Sumerak explained. “As we craft the stories, we strive to make sure that all of the material presented is appropriate for younger readers–so these books can safely be enjoyed by readers of any age. But it really shouldn’t matter what banner a comic has running across the top of the cover. If the story inside is something that everyone can enjoy, put aside your preconceived notions about ‘all ages’ comics and dive in!

“I am insanely excited about what Ed Brubaker is doing in the mainstream ‘Captain America’ series — including the new character wearing the red, white and blue!” Sumerak said. “But for the folks out there who still want a heaping helping of stories featuring Steve Rogers behind the shield, ‘Marvel Adventures: Avengers’ is the perfect place to go! Hope to see you there!”

CBR News would like to extend a special thanks to Marvel Comics’ Jim McCann and Arune Singh for their help in putting together SHIELD OF FREEDOM.

Now discuss this story in CBR’s Avengers forum.

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