With the Dark Reign of Norman Osborn in full effect, the Marvel Universe has become a pretty, well, dark place. But hope is not lost. The United States' most revered hero, Steve Rogers -- Captain America -- is not dead, contrary to what everyone believes. He's become unstuck in time, and in the in-progress "Captain America: Reborn" miniseries by writer Ed Brubaker and artists Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice, Rogers' friends and foes are trying to rescue him from his temporal trap.
With "Captain America: Reborn" #3 on sale next week, CBR News spoke with Brubaker about the time travel elements of the miniseries, as well as what it's like working with his artistic collaborators Hitch and Guice.
CBR: The appearance of the time traveling Two-Gun Kid in "The Marvels Project" #1 and Steve Rogers' fate in "Reborn" suggests that you've become very interested in stories with time travel elements.
ED BRUBAKER: I've always been fascinated by time travel, but with "Reborn" it's less about time travel and more about time skipping. It's much more a nod to the Kurt Vonnegut novel, "Slaughterhouse 5." I was very literal about it. The first line of "Slaughterhouse 5" is, "Listen, Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time." And that's why in the first issue of "Reborn," Arnim Zola says, "Listen, Steve Rogers has come unstuck in time."
Even though I'm doing a different kind of story where I'm exploring Captain America, I'm clearly making a nod to Vonnegut. I don't think he came up with the idea but I think he might have been the first one to use the phrase "unstuck in time." So I wanted it to be as literal as possible because I didn't want anybody to think that I didn't know I was riffing on "Slaughterhouse 5."
Some readers certainly got the reference but it seems like a great number thought you were referencing the TV show "Lost," where the character Desmond bounced around time in a similar way.
I'm a fan of "Lost" but I was watching those episodes and going, "Oh! They're riffing on Vonnegut!" I was emailing with "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof and he said he got so much shit for those episodes. I told him, "I'm getting shit for ripping you guys off! And I'm so clearly riffing on Vonnegut."
I thought it was funny and a sad comment that many readers of "Captain America" have not read "Slaughterhouse 5." It's one of the best books of the 20th century and used to be forced reading when I was in high school. [laughs]. So I just assumed everyone knew it.
Why did you want to use the unstuck in time mechanic for "Reborn?" What did it allow you to do?
What we're doing is a lot different than how either "Lost" or "Slaughterhouse 5" used the idea. I wanted the ability to show these key moments from Steve Rogers' history in the story of his rebirth. That's because I knew there would a lot of people grabbing this thing that only had a vague knowledge of Steve's history. I also wanted to use it to highlight why he is who he is and what kind of guy he is. It really gives you a chance to see him crawling around through his own life and struggling with it.
Just wait until you get to see Hitch draw these amazing moments from Steve's life. In issue #3 you'll see the Kree-Skrull war drawn by Bryan Hitch and inked by Butch Guice.
Tell us more about working with Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice on this project.
It's great. There are some amazing double-page spreads in issue #3. You get the pencils and you're like, "Whoa!" And then you get inks from Butch and it's like, "Holy shit!" The stuff that these guys are pulling off is unbelievable. Bryan will draw a crowd scene with a million people and Butch will ink every one of them.
Also, a lot of people seem to think that Bryan and Butch are splitting up penciling duties on the book, but Bryan is penciling the whole thing and Butch is inking him. There's only one element of extra effort that Butch is undertaking. Because of deadlines and Bryan expanding every issue by almost 10 pages, here and there he may not pencil a background as tight as he would if he didn't trust his inker. I think some people may misunderstand things because the credits on the book don't say "written by Ed Brubaker, penciled by Bryan Hitch and inked by Butch Guice." It just says "by" the three of us.
But collaborating with Bryan has been amazing. I send him scripts that are 22 pages and we get back 30-31 pages of art. He'll call me up or email me saying, "I was thinking of doing this, this, and this. What do you think of that?" He comes up with amazing ideas for the visuals and changing scenes around. I think he's always been like that too.
"Captain America: Reborn" #3 goes on sale September 19 from Marvel Comics.