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Spencer Talks Conflict Between "Sam Wilson, Captain America" & Steve Rogers

The name Steve Rogers is synonymous with Captain America, but over the years a number of Marvel Comics characters have picked up the Captain America mantle when Steve was unable to continue in his capacity as the Sentinel of Liberty. Usually the circumstances that led to another character becoming Cap involve Steve's sudden disappearance or apparent death meaning he hasn't always been able to choose his successor. Recently he was forced to put down the shield after he was stripped of the Super Soldier Serum that kept him young, giving him the opportunity to pass the mantle.

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His pick? His friend and former partner, Sam Wilson who fought by his side for many years as the high flying hero known as the Falcon. In several Avengers titles and the recently concluded "All-New Captain America" series, Wilson learned the ropes and did his best to honor the legacy of Captain America. So why is it then that when writer Nick Spencer and artist Daniel Acuna's new "Sam Wilson, Captain America" series launches this October the title character will be at odds with his friend and former partner?

CBR News spoke with Spencer about the disagreement that arises during the eight-month time gap that is part of all the titles in the "All-New, All-Different Marvel" line, how the tone of the book won't be defined by their conflict, and which Captain America runs his work will evoke and pay homage to.

CBR News: Nick, you've written Captain America a few times before, but how does it feel to get a chance to chronicle the Sentinel of Liberty's new ongoing solo title?

Nick Spencer: Yeah, I've written Steve as a Cap a few times. I wrote him a decent amount in "Avengers World" and a bit in "Secret Avengers: Fear Itself." But one of the first things I would say is this book is tonally and conceptually miles away from those books.

It's really been kind of funny seeing the initial responses. People are like, "I really like when he does books like 'Ant-Man,' but I don't know how he'll do in a book like this." I feel pretty comfortable saying that if you dug "Ant-Man" you'll like this, It's definitely a fun, vibrant, upbeat take on Captain America. It has a lot of big drama high-stakes moments, but also a lot of levity and humor, a lot of character-driven moments.

I wouldn't call it a comedy per se, but I would say this -- tonally if "Ant-Man" was a step removed from "Superior Foes of Spider-Man" then "Sam Wilson, Captain America" is a step removed from "Ant-Man." It's a very different take on the character than anything you've seen before, which is particularly exciting to me.

What's it like writing Sam Wilson as Captain America? What do you find most interesting about him?

Sam is really fun to write. He's a funny, cool, likable guy. His voice came really easy to me. I had written him a bit before in "Avengers World" and I liked his voice then, so I had a good feeling about it.

He's not a lovable loser type like Scott Lang, but he's very funny in his own way. He's an everyman, the type of guy you want to follow around. He's a character that suits the mantle of Captain America really well. I'm really enjoying the chance to get inside his head and spend some time with him.

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Sam doesn't go into action as Captain America alone. He's accompanied by his falcon, Redwing, with whom he shares a telepathic link. Will Redwing play a significant role in the new series? The character seemed to be in a pretty interesting place at the end of writer Rick Remender's "All-New Captain America" following an attack by the vampiric Baron Blood.

Yes, Redwing is going to be doing some cool stuff. I love Redwing, so he'll be a pretty key part of the book. Pets always make books better and we've got an A-list one here. He's got a moment in the first issue that I really like, in particular.

We know from the teaser image for the series that Steve Rogers will also play a role in this series. Can you talk about Steve's role in the book and his sort of state of mind?

You're not going to find a bigger Steve Rogers fan than me. So getting to make him a central part of this book was key for me. Obviously as you can see from the teaser the relationship between Sam and Steve is very different coming back from our eight-month time jump. A lot has happened and changed in Sam's life and that friendship. So as a result of that these two guys are on the outs. They're not seeing eye-to-eye. There's a very real and very serious disagreement between them. So that rift is going to provide a lot of stories for us and it's going to be a big part of what we do here.

Is the conflict between Sam and Steve almost like "Civil War?" Will they have two different ideological points of view? And will the public and the rest of the Marvel Universe be divided on where they stand?

Yeah, the public will be very divided. I'm a huge "Civil War" fan. I'm a great admirer of that story. I think it's still kind of top of the mountain in terms of event stories. This is a very different kind of conflict though.

Making sure that it's very easy for readers to see both sides of this argument was a major priority for me. The one thing I would say to all the Steve fans out there, of which I am one, is that I was not about to put him in a position where I found his viewpoint unsympathetic just because the star of the book is Sam. I think that Steve has a really strong argument here as does Sam.

I think that's what's going to be what's most interesting to see in terms of reactions. We've come up with a disagreement here where it's very easy to see where both sides are coming from.

Because of Steve's age I imagine it might be easy to view him as a sort of "Grumpy Old Cap." It sounds like you want to avoid that though.

Yeah, Steve is still Steve. He's still the moral ideal in the Marvel Universe and he's still the personification of what we hope for America to be. Making him older doesn't change that. That's inherent to the character. I would never write something where I felt like it contrasted or distracted from that.

So speaking broadly, the arguments that Sam and Steve will have spin out of one thing and becomes a lot of things. I never fail to see both Sam and Steve's sides in this argument. I think that's what's going to make this work.

Will Sam also be dealing with the forces of Hydra as well? By the end of "All-New Captain America" the evil organization appeared to be a very real and growing threat.

Yeah, but it is eight months later. So we'll certainly be touching on Hydra and showing you what happened there and how things played out. There's been some major collateral damage as a result of that. That will have a major impact on Sam's new status quo.

Let's talk a little more about the book's supporting cast. What can you tell us about the characters who aid and interact with Sam on a regular basis?

I'm not sure how much I can say here without spoiling things. Misty Knight will be a major player in the book, which I'm super excited about being a huge fan of that character. I owe Rick [Remender] an enormous debt of gratitude for bringing her into the fold here.
Dennis Dunphy, D-Man is also back! He's going to be a key part of Sam's little ragtag group. There are a couple of new characters in the mix as well that I'm looking forward to folks meeting. One of them has a real legacy. He's a major part of our first arc and I'm looking forward to that.

We've talked friends, let's chat about foes. What's your take on Captain America's rogues gallery? Are you initially interested in examining some particular villains or do your initial plans call more for adding new Cap antagonists?

One of the things I most like about the book is that we're revisiting a lot of Cap's rogues that you haven't seen for a long time. When Ed [Brubaker] was doing the book it obviously had that classic Steranko vibe. It was very much a spy-noir story in a lot of aspects. Then when you look at Rick's run you can see the hat tip to Kirby especially. So I wanted to kind of reconnect with some of the Steve Englehart of it and some of the Mark Gruenwald era, which was very important to me, because that's the Cap I grew up with.
So the book will be a little more colorful and maybe dare I say -- sillier in parts? The colors are brighter. The sound effects are bigger. There's a distinct super hero vibe to the book. It's really shaping up to be a lot of fun. People see the teaser and that definitely is a big part of the book, especially as we go forward. I don't want people to think, though, that this is a polemic or it's going to be super serious. This book is every bit as much fun as "Ant-Man" is. It's not quite the comedy that that book is, but there's a lot of off the wall stuff in the book.

Bringing that off to wall feel to life is the book's artist, Daniel Acuna, who in recent months has used his lush and beautiful art style to depict both the current and former Captain in the pages of "Uncanny Avengers."

Man! [Laughs] This is a huge deal for me. He's one of my favorite Marvel artists. I can not believe that I'm getting to work with him here. It was awhile after I got the book that I found out that Daniel was going to be coming on board. Tom [Brevoort, the book's editor] e-mailed me and said, "You know this is a possibility."

It was a bit like you asking to borrow a friend's car and they're like, "You know I've got the '69 Mustang in the garage if you want to borrow that instead." It was kind of that moment where you're like, "Why didn't you just say that?" [Laughs]
So yeah, Daniel is one of the best artists working today. I'm just enormously lucky to get the chance to work with him. As the images come in they are just mind blowing. It makes life and your job so much easier to know that you're working with an artist of that caliber. You know that no matter what you do the book is already nine tenths of the way there. So that's a big deal for me.

If the opportunity presents itself organically is there a chance we might see Daniel drawing Sam and Steve's respective Avengers teams in "Sam Wilson, Captain America?"

Definitely. These guys are both core parts of two different Avengers teams. Those teams themselves have interesting stories to tell. So that will definitely be reflected in the characters here.

I also wanted to talk about a Captain America related character who so far doesn't appear to have his own book in the "All-New All-Different Marvel" line, former Captain America Bucky Barnes AKA the Winter Soldier. Do you have plans for the character?

I have to leave that as a no comment for now. [Laughs] But what a character! It sure would be fun to see him pop up here!

Next year is Captain America's 75th anniversary. So that's kind of a big deal. I'm a very lucky to be writing this character at that point in his history. 2016 is a huge year for all things Captain America related.

It's also when Marvel Studios' "Captain America: Civil War" will be released.

[Laughs] Right! There might also be a movie!

"Sam Wilson, Captain America" #1 is scheduled for release in October.

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