In March of 2007, writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting, the creative team of Marvel Comics' "Captain America," shocked the world by killing off the title character in issue #25. Since than, Steve Rogers' World War II era partner, Bucky Barnes, has ceased his activities as the assassin Winter Soldier and claimed the mantle of Captain America as his own. After a baptism of fire against the Red Skull and other foes from his past, Bucky is slowing getting used to being Captain America. But that doesn't mean things will be getting any easier for him in the future.
CBR News spoke with series editor Tom Brevoort about his team's plans for "Captain America," plans which include not one but two back-to-back milestone issues.
In "Captain America" #49, in stores now, the new Cap didn't make an appearance at all. The issue instead focused on Steve Rogers' former girlfriend Sharon Carter, who was brainwashed to assassinate him earlier in the series. The issue did feature a Captain America, though, as readers learned the recently revived Captain America of the '50s was lurking in a nursing home, getting information about the late Steve Rogers from Sharon's aunt, who fought alongside Rogers in World War II.
"The '50s Cap is interesting because, on the one hand, he's the ultimate Cap fan, a guy who rebuilt himself from the DNA up, turning himself into Captain America because he loved the guy so much," Brevoort told CBR. "On the other hand, he's not entirely all there--even before he came back, his flawed version of the super-soldier serum had driven him around the bend. Since then he's been immolated and brainwashed and reprogrammed and so forth. He's been through a lot. But at the same time, there's maybe something that can be reclaimed in that character. After all, his partner was eventually deprogrammed and became Nomad for a good long while, so maybe the same could be done with him. Of course, the reason that Nomad's no longer around is that the Winter Soldier killed him, which gives the '50s Cap a strong and justifiable reason to have a mad-on for the current Cap."
Next up is the milestone "Captain America" #50, which goes on sale May 20 and focuses on Bucky. "It should give people a pretty good idea as to what Bucky's life has been like over the last seventy years or so," Brevoort said. "And there are appearances in it by the Invaders, the New Avengers, and a bunch of other folks."
Most auspiciously, "Captain America" returns to it's original numbering with the release of issue #600 on June 17. "This is the only time I can think of in comic book history when there have been back-to-back milestone issues, so it's either a cool happenstance or a cruel fluke depending on your point of view," Brevoort said "It did mean that we had to spread our resources wider than we typically would, needing to staff two anniversary issues simultaneously and making them both seem seminal and special. We've been setting the bar pretty high of late with our centennial issues, most recently 'Thor' #600. So I figured we'd need a 100-page-plus package for 'Cap' #600, with as much new material as we could manage in it.
"The main story would have to have gravitas, and work either as the capstone to an era, or send the series off in a new direction. And there should be as many classic creators represented as possible. Getting something from Joe Simon was one element I felt especially strongly about, since no one has been connected with Cap longer than him. Beyond that, the book should encapsulate everything that makes the character special and unique."
The theme for "Captain America" #600 is "Where were you when Captain America was shot?" Explained Brevoort, "We'll be cutting all around the Marvel Universe to get a wide variety of perspectives and stories, as the anniversary of Cap's death is about to hit. Pretty much all of the main players in the series will be on hand, including Bucky, Natasha, The Falcon, and Sharon, as well as the Avengers (both New and Dark), Patriot of the Young Avengers, Crossbones and Sin, the Red Skull, and Rikki Barnes."
Ed Brubaker wrote the lead story for "Captain America" #600, and the piece features artwork by Butch Guice with contributions from Howard Chaykin, David Aja, Rafael Albuquerque, Dale Eaglesham and Mitch Breitweiser. The issue also features new stories by former "Captain America" writers Roger Stern and Mark Waid. "In Roger's story, illustrated by Kalman Andrasofszky, we check in on a couple of Cap's supporting players from Roger's tenure on the series, Bernie Rosenthal and Josh Cooper, and find out where they were when Cap was shot, and how both knowing Steve and the reality of his death has affected their lives," Brevoort explained. "Mark's story is set several months earlier, shortly after Cap's death, and revolves around the auctioning of the largest collection of Cap memorabilia in the wake of his demise."
Additionally, readers will learn more about the aforementioned 1950s Cap in "Captain America" #600. Brevoort also revealed the issue will provide some clues about Sharon Carter's dream in issue #49, in which she flashed back to her time as a captive of the Red Skull, when she apparently saw someone with a device that resembled Doctor Doom's time machine. Was this someone Steve Rogers? Only time will tell.
"Captain America #600" also contains several special features, like an essay by Captain America co-creator Joe Simon. "As we were approaching #600, we reached out to Joe about contributing something to the issue, and this was hot on the heels of getting approval for Marvel stories to be included in the Titan Books 'Best of Simon & Kirby' volume, so Joe was in a good place with us," Brevoort said. "Joe's essay is specifically about some of the earliest days working on Cap, and the circumstances surrounding Cap's shield changing from its original badge-shape to its famous circular configuration. He also provided a pair of spot illustrations recreating drawings he had done close to seventy years previous."
"Captain America" #601 hits stores July 15 and features a tale by regular series writer Ed Brubaker and another legendary creator associated with Cap, guest artist Gene Colan. "This is the issue that Gene started a few years ago--he's finally completed it, and we're happy to have it," Brevoort said. It's another double-sized issue, the bulk of which recounts an adventure Cap and Bucky had during WWII against a supernatural opponent. It's vintage Colan material."
As if these milestone issues and a new Gene Colan story weren't enough to keep Captain America fans buzzing, there's that little matter of the recent Marvel ads featuring a mysterious white star and the text, "July 2009." When asked about the ad, Brevoort could only offer the cryptic comment, "It's written by Ed, drawn by Bryan Hitch, and will be of immediate interest to anybody reading Marvel Comics."