Remender & Romita’s Plans For Captain America: Zola, Sci-Fi And The Great Depression
Among the many Marvel Comics characters who are part of the publisher’s Marvel NOW relaunch initiative is of course Captain America, who’s now quite the star thanks to actor Chris Evans’ excellent performance in Joe Johnston’s live-action film and some scene-stealing moments in Joss Whedon’s hugely popular Avengers. Created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon in 1941, the superhero has been redefined over most of the last decade by writer Ed Brubaker and artistic collaborators including Steve Epting and Butch Guice as a kind of costumed super-spy. In the new Captain America series launching in November, writer Rick Remender and artist John Romita, Jr. shift the tone considerably towards the realm of science fiction adventure with a split focus on Steve Rogers’ time before he became America’s Sentinel of Liberty, when he was just a scrawny kid living in the Great Depression.Last Friday Remender and Romita joined series editor Tom Brevoort for a conference call with members of the press to discuss Captain America. The conversation was facilitated by Sales & Communications Coordinator James Viscardi and meticulously liveblogged by Marvel.com Associate Editor Ben Morse. Here are the event highlights:
- Tonally the new book will be decidedly distinct from the Ed Brubaker work that defined the book (and his film counterpart) for so many years. Espionage gives way to sci-fi and horror, with Remender specifically citing Bernie Wrightson’s famous Frankenstein adaptation as well as the EC Comics of the 1950s.
- Along those lines, the book will be “pretty crazy’ visually. Romita, inker Klaus Janson and colorist Dean White will work in a progression of the style they innovated for Black Panther.
- The series will split focus between present day action and flashbacks to Rogers as a young man, before he became Captain America. Remender is keen to demonstrate how Rogers acquired the qualities that made him the best candidate for the super soldier serum and a successful Captain America. “”It was important to show Steve earning the tenacity and heart, because you’re not born with that. What you learn from your parents and the people around you informs your decisions and choices that define who you become.”
- To facilite this parallel storyline, Remender researched life in America’s Great Depression, including “a lot of recounts of amazing stories where people rose up and had hope that it would end even five years in. The optimism of Captain America is something I’m excited to write.” However, unlike writer Jason Aaron’s plans for Thor: God of Thunder, the split narrative may be a finite thing in Captain America. Remender explained, “I know the story I want to tell in the first year and know the Depression stuff will juxtapose well with modern day Steve Rogers. Beyond the first year, I don’t know if we’ll go back. It remains to be seen. I don’t see myself going back to World War II much. It’s been mined terrifically. If we continue to reflect back, it will be because there’s a part of Steve from that era I want to unearth.”
- Romita on the Great Depression: “Today is nothing compared to the Depression. There was no parachute. If you couldn’t get food, you died. Visually, I’m able to get that, but emotionally, we can’t convey it like going through it did.”
- Arnim Zola will be the primary villain of the new series, which will explore the villain from his earliest days. Brevoort was especially explicit that Zola, whose unusual design has made him something of a comical presence in the past, will be anything but funny in the new Captain America. “Zola doesn’t come out of this with anybody ever thinking he’s a joke again,” Remender said. “He’s a high level madman, the top boss and the focus. But as always, there are henchmen. We’ve got Dough Boy, who is Jabba the Hutt as designed by Jack Kirby. When you see what John does with Zola’s mutates and their weapons, it’s wonderful, incredible big and exciting.”
- The new Cap’s supporting cast will be different from that of the previous Brubaker run. Most especially, the Falcon will not appear in the book as he’s “full-fledged” in the new Avengers series by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña. Sharon Carter will remain, though, and Hank Pym will supply Captain America with his latest gear. Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier “is a conversation for the third or fourth arc.” Remender promised year two of his book would shake things up further.
- Brevoort on the new series: “When Rick and I first started talking about doing Cap stuff, for all the high adventure and sci fi, there was an element of what Frank Miller did to Daredevil in Born Again, tearing him down and taking everything away to build him back up. We’re throwing Cap down into a place where he’s completely out of his element, where the idea of America has no relevance. We’re stranding him on a metaphoric desert island and getting to the core of what drives this character. We’ll learn one new thing about him that really drives the first year.”