The Not-So-Real World: Kirkman's "Captain America"

[Captain America #29]Robert Kirkman believes comic books should be one thing above all else: fun.

The writer of such Image titles as "Invincible," "Tech Jacket" and "The Walking Dead," Kirkman remembers a time when reading Captain America comics didn't involve the horrors of reality today, but instead an escape from reality.

"After the tragedy of the Sept. 11th attacks, an unfortunate side effect on comics was that Marvel was sitting on a character called Captain America, so they decided to deal with America's emotions in the book," Kirkman told CBR News. "For a while it worked, but after a while you have to get back to the Serpent Society -- to jumping off buildings."

Beginning in July, Kirkman and artist Scott Eaton take the reigns on the Star-Spangled Avenger with a 4-issue arc beginning with issue #29.

"My first issue of 'Captain America' comes out in July... how cool is that? The four issues revolve around an evil sect that has infiltrated SHIELD, they're operating right under Nick Fury's nose," Kirkman says. "They're working with the Red Skull and giving the Skull technology. It's evil SHIELD agents and the Red Skull versus Cap for the fate of the world!"

Now that he's got the keys to a Marvel title and its stable of characters, Kirkman wants to waste no time bringing in a horde of Marvel bad guys. It's what the book should be about -- Cap bashing skulls with guys in snake costumes, right?

"Villains? I'm using them all in my four issues! Part of the whole push with this is we're back into the Marvel Universe, so we're going to have some fun. Hydra, Red Skull, the Serpent Society, Batroc the Leaper, Mr. Hyde," Kirkman says. "And yes, Batroc will be jumping. Everybody will be jumping... there will be jumping everywhere."

Including a jump backwards to a seemingly long-forgotten Cap love interest -- Diamondback.

"My first issues of 'Captain America,' Cap and Diamondback were boyfriend/girlfriend," Kirkman says. "I asked (Tom) Brevoort if it was cool if I bring her back -- he said it was fine, that the fans have actually been wanting her back for a while."

To those thinking to themselves that Captain America and Diamondback wasn't that long ago, keep in mind that Kirkman is only 25. The Wunderkind first started reading "Captain America" midway through the Mark Gruenwald/Ron Lim run, and has taken the fast track in comics writing, starting out with a small self-published book dedicated to a funky little character called "Battle Pope." After several successes at Image Comics, the Bucky Barnes-aged Kirkman gets his shot at a comic book mainstay.

"It's every kid's goal to work at Marvel. I've been sending copies of 'Invincible' and 'Tech Jacket' to Joe Quesada and others at Marvel to get work there," Kirkman says. "I started talking to Brian Michael Bendis and found out that he's liking 'Invincible.' When Marvel was getting their whole new line together, and looking for new people to do 'Iron Man' and 'Thor,' Brevoort e-mailed me and asked me, 'Hey, wanna write some 'Captain America?'' And I was like, 'Well... I don't know.' And then he really started to beg me and I finally said, 'Ok, ok, fine, I'll write 'Captain America!''"

Indeed, even chatting with Kirkman is a light-hearted activity. One can imagine what his take on Steve Rogers will be.

"If I had a specialty, I'd say it is having fun with the characters," Kirkman says. "It's not like I'm writing fluff books, but at the end of the day, it is a comic book."

And this, Kirkman promises, will be a fun superhero book.

"'Captain America' is a superhero (book) at its core. He's a perfect guy doing perfect things, helping people out. He's clean -- he's apple pie," Kirkman stresses, sounding almost serious for a moment. "Throw in some crazy stuff, some super villains and explosions, and you got it. And no, I'm not bringing back the CapVan... but maybe the Cap Snowboard and the Cap hand-glider..."

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