The Winter of Cap's Discontent: Brubaker talks "Captain America" & "Winter Soldier: Winter Kills"

With Ed Brubaker chronicling Captain America's adventures, life has not been easy for the Sentinel of Liberty; Steve Rogers has had to struggle with the uncertainty of death in the Marvel Universe. The Winter Solider was revealed to be Cap's old sidekick, Bucky, whom he believed was long dead. Recently, Cap saved London from an attack orchestrated by his arch nemesis The Red Skull, who he also thought was dead. Before Steve Rogers can process all of that, he finds himself thrust into the forefront of the conflict tearing apart the Marvel Universe, "Civil War." CBR News spoke with Brubaker about what's coming up in "Captain America" and about "Winter Solider: Winter Kills," a special penned by Brubaker shipping in December that focuses on Cap's grown up sidekick

When "Civil War" was announced, Brubaker chose to embrace the event and what it meant for "Captain America." "I decided early on to look at these 'Civil War' things as a gift instead of a hassle," Brubaker told CBR News. "The 'Civil War' arc in Cap is basically my taking advantage of 'Civil War' and a boost in the audience that we're getting for the tie-ins, to show people the world that we created in Cap with the wide cast of characters and to set up things that are going to come after 'Civil War.'"

Each issue of the "Drums of War," the "Civil War" tie in story, will shine the spotlight on a different member of Captain America's supporting cast. "I chose to use my three issue arc sort of in the same way that Brian [Bendis] is doing in 'Avengers,' which is to focus on a single cast member," Brubaker explained. "The first issue is sort of the Sharon Carter and Cap issue. The 2nd issue is about the Winter Soldier and how he feels about 'Civil War.' The third issue finally sort of focuses on Cap.

"The reason for that is because Cap is basically one of the two main characters in 'Civil War,' I couldn't really do three issues of 'Captain America' that starred him and just focused solely on him," Brubaker continued. "Because it would be such a balancing act and the chance of conflicting with something just seemed insane and the only other option is to do some little pocket story that happens within 'Civil War,' that would ultimately have no relevance on what actually happens in 'Civil War.' That's what a lot of those little pocket stories end up doing. It's like, 'this happened' and it's not referenced in the actual event at all."

"Drums of War" won't just feature the heroic cast members of "Captain America." "I chose to use the backdrop of 'Civil War' as a blanket to lay out my characters on and sort of show you the manipulations that are going on in the story," Brubaker said. "It really serves as a good intro to the book while at the same time laying the ground work for the Red Skull's next big thing. Because in the last issue of Cap before the 'Civil War' issues, the Red Skull basically comes on TV and lets everybody know he's not really dead; no one knows who he really is or where the hell he is. So throughout the 'Civil War' issues, I show the Red Skull working behind the scenes and what's going on while the heroes are all fighting each other and getting villains to join up on the registration side to fight heroes."

"Captain America" #22, the first part of "Drums of War," focuses on Sharon Carter's feelings about the Superhero Registration Act and is in stores now. "Cap's girlfriend Sharon Carter is a high up S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. She's somebody who has spent most of her adult life taking orders," Brubaker stated. "While, she's gone off the grid a few times in her career - she's considered quitting for Cap and a variety of things - my feeling was that other than Cap and the Falcon, she doesn't really have much time in her life for costumed heroes. I figured she knew Cap wouldn't sign up to go hunt down his friends.

"The opening scene is basically her watching the video of what Cap did on the Hellicarrier and looking at Maria Hill and going, 'So you don't listen to me? I'm his personal liaison, who is supposed to know everything about him and you go and do the opposite of what I tell you?' She knew that he would respond badly to it and that it would push him over the edge, but she's looking at the world that is being created around these people and what's happening because of the Civil War and she's thinking, 'I've got to try and talk some sense into him because this is insane.'"

Sharon understands why the government approached Captain America about the Registration act and she also understands that given Cap's experiences, like his time as Nomad and other incidents, why he reacted the way he did. "She sees where Cap is coming from, but his identity is public, he was created by the government and if you were going to suspect people that would think the idea of superheroes having to be registered and trained is a good idea, Cap might actually be among them. It's just the way they are going about it and the fact that he's also the kind of person who knows that you can't always trust your government and that a list of identities of every superhero currently functioning in the Marvel Universe could easily get into the hands of corporate donors; because that's what happens in the world of politics. While he loves his country, he doesn't necessarily love his government or politics in general."

At the end of "Captain America" #21, readers saw The Winter Solider make contact with Nick Fury, who has gone underground. Some readers might think based on this scene that they know what side Bucky Barnes has picked in "Civil War." Readers of "Captain America" #23 will find out that his choice is much more complicated. "I don't think he's taking a side," Brubaker explained. "Because he's so fresh in this world that he doesn't understand why it's such a big deal. His whole time being a superhero he was fighting in World War II, he wasn't necessarily a superhero, but he was a costumed operative for his government. So, there is part of him that doesn't understand why Cap is doing what he's doing, but there is another part of him that knows exactly who Cap is and knows exactly why he isn't going to sign onto something that basically takes away the civil liberties of anyone who wants to try to help their country in the way that they always have."

Readers looking to see more of the Winter Soldier should pick up the "Winter Soldier: Winter Kills" one-shot which hits stores in December. The special has the adult Bucky Barnes interacting with some of the Marvel universe's younger heroes. "You get to see Bucky bossing around some of the Young Avengers, which they love - not! [laughs]," Brubaker said. "It really is what the solicitation says; it's an action packed character piece. It's my first real chance other than the 'Civil War' issue to do a story from his point of view. In the 'Civil War' issue he's got most of it to himself, but it's about 'Civil War' and it's about all this other stuff like moving the villain's plot forward in some ways.

"The Winter Soldier special is really just the moment out of time where he steps back from all of this and it's his first Christmas in America being who he really is since 1944. Basically since Christmas of 1944, Bucky hasn't been himself. He and Cap got blown up on a plane four or five months later, then World War II was over and now he's back. What's going on in the Marvel Universe in America is hardly making it feel like anything he wants to be part of. "

Readers of the "Winter Soldier" special will get to see the last Christmas that Bucky Barnes spent as himself. "It's this real interesting character piece and a lot of it is flashbacks to that last Christmas; of him and Toro dressed up as servicemen running around London trying to get to a dance and of the camaraderie that existed compared to what's going on in the world with 'Civil War," Brubaker explained. "It's basically him going, 'God, I would give anything for December 1944 again.' It's also about him sort of reflecting back on the things he's done as the Winter Solider because as he says, for him, ever since his father died, Christmas is always sort of time to look back on stuff. Now there's so much stuff to look back on that he just despises. He would give anything for it to be 1944 again."

It won't be just the Winter Solider that's having a Blue Christmas because of "Civil War." "He's more where the rest of the country is, in a way that's what he's kind of commenting on, the decorations are up and the snow is falling, but it doesn't seem like Christmas," Brubaker said. "You look around at the people on the streets and they don't feel safe. They feel nervous and cautious and like anything can happen at any moment because there's a war raging around them that they're not really part of. It's like how the people in Ancient Greece would have felt when the Gods were fighting, or like that very first Marvel Comics fight between the Human Torch and Prince Namor, where they destroyed like half of the Bowery with a tidal wave and firebombs. That's what it feels like to me. When I think about the 'Civil War,' it's like I don't think about all these people talking about how so and so is breaking the law. I think most of the people are terrified and just want it to be over."

Brubaker promises a lot of action and story to readers who pick up "Winter Soldier: Winter Kills." "You get to see Bucky and three of the Young Avengers take on a whole squad of Hydra on Christmas Eve in New York. Submariner and some of the Invaders are in it for the flashbacks. It's a full comic book. I'm barely packing the whole story into thirty eight pages. It's definitely made me feel real happy that I did the Winter Soldier. He's so great to write. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to bring Bucky back and write stories about the adult Bucky in the Marvel Universe."

After spotlighting Sharon Carter and the Winter Soldier, the final part of the "Drums of War" storyline will focus mainly on Cap. "The third one is from his point of view," Brubaker said. "I would have probably done that as the first one but, Brian had done his first Avenger's tie-in from Cap's point of view. My moments happen after the big fight we just saw in 'Civil War' #4. During the whole war there are going to be moments where he goes off by himself. He's not talking to anybody else about it because the minute he got back to America from England basically Stanford got blown up. He hasn't had time to actually focus on the fact that the Red Skull made this huge attack on London and that the Skull is back. So, the issue is basically about him having to deal with 'Civil War' and everything around it while he's trying to keep up his duties."

In addition to show casing how the events of Marvel's big story impact the lives of his book's cast, Brubaker plans on using the "Civil War" tie in issues of "Captain America" to set the stage for some of the big plans he has for the book. "A lot of it is laying the mysterious ground work for what's going to happen in 'Captain America' #25, which is our over sized anniversary issue" Brubaker explained. "That issue begins what I think is the biggest stuff we'll have ever done on Cap. It's pretty mind blowing. Issue #25 takes place about an hour after the last Cap scene in 'Civil War' #7. I can't reveal anything about it, but the storyline that begins in issue #25 is called 'Death of the Dream.' It's going to be a mind fuck."

The big surprises in issue #25 aren't the only bomb shells waiting for "Captain America" readers. "I've got big plans that I've mapped out pretty tightly for twelve issues beginning with issue #25," Brubaker said. "I'll be surprised if I can fit it all into twelve issues. Issue #25, I think, is going to make people shit their pants. Then when we get to the end of that storyline there is a whole other turn that I don't think anyone is going to see coming but it's the exact story everyone's wanted to see with Cap for a long time especially now that the Winter Soldier is back in it. It's going to be really exciting."

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