***This article contains spoilers for Ultimate Comics Ultimates #15 and #16, out Sept. 19 and Sept. 26, respectively.***After months of hype from Marvel, Captain America's major "decision" in the pages of Ultimate Comics Ultimates has been revealed: He's accepted the job of President of the United States.
The story starts in this week's Ultimates #15, where Captain America wins a special election as a write-in candidate. One week later in issue #16, he's sworn into office. But according to series writer Sam Humphries, this doesn't mean that Cap is transitioning from super-soldier to politician.
"Cap doesn't see himself as changed by the presidency," Humphries told Newsarama. "He sees himself changing the office of the president. He's not making a power grab in Washington, he's answering the call of the people, and he feels like he has the responsibility to do as much as he can to save America."For months, the America of the Ultimate Universe has plunged into escalating disarray, with states seceding and Washington D.C. destroyed as part of the "Divided We Fall" storyline. Now with a beloved, iconic superhero as commander-in-chief, things look like they might finally be turning around — the title of the arc has now shifted to the considerably more optimistic "United We Stand" — but change won't come overnight.
"This is about the heroes winning the day," said Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso. "This is not a maudlin story. It's inspiring. People are going to feel good about this, but the road will be tricky to get there."
Though the story — illustrated by Billy Tan in issue #15 and Luke Ross in issue #16 — arrives less than two months before the general election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, those involved stress that it is not a political story, with no character meant to represent a specific candidate or party."Marvel is not Democrat or Republican," Alonso said. "This is not an endorsement of Romney or Obama. There is nothing in this book that leans right or left. What Cap represents, what the presidency means to him, what he understands to be the pact between the public and the elected official, I think that's something both Obama and Romney would agree with and aspire to."
"This is a moment where America turns to a man who they see doing the right thing to protect the lives of American citizens," Humphries added. "This is not, for anyone involved, a political election. This is an election for leadership."
The origins of the story date back to previous Ultimates writer Jonathan Hickman, who provided Humphries his notes of story ideas he didn't get a chance to tackle before leaving the book to focus on the upcoming Marvel NOW! relaunches of Avengers and New Avengers — including the notion to perhaps make Captain America president at some point."I kept going back to that line in the notes," Humphries said. "I really believed that this is the right time and right place to tell this story." Doing so was something of a leap of faith for Humphries, who is still relatively new to the world of Marvel. Ultimates was his first ongoing series at the publisher, with a second, Uncanny X-Force, announced earlier this week. "They could have just straight up said no," Humphries said. "But to their credit they said, 'That's a really interesting idea, here are our concerns with it.' We made a decision as a group that if we couldn't do this story the right way, we were just not going to do it at all." Though whether or not Captain America will end up serving an entire four-year term remains to be seen, Humphries indicated that it's a development intended to have long-term repercussions.
"We made a commitment to show that epic events have significant consequences," the writer said. "Cap is both a significant consequence and an epic event that's going to create more significant consequences down the line. This is not something where Cap is going to be president for an issue and a half and then he's going to laugh it off. This is something that is going to change Cap, it's going to change the Ultimates, and it's going to change the Ultimate Universe."No matter how long Captain America stays in office, the events of issue #16 make it clear that he's still more focused on punching than paperwork. "No one wants to see Cap sitting behind a desk for a year," Humphries said. "He's not interested in having Rose Garden ceremonies. He's not interested in kicking it in the Oval Office. He was elected to bring America back together, so he's going out there, and he's going to get in it. He's going to get in the field, he's going to work hard, and he's not going to sit back and throw parties for visiting dignitaries." Mark Paniccia, senior editor of Marvel's Ultimate books, says Captain America becoming president will have significant effects on the other titles in the 12-year-old line, especially the Brian Wood-written Ultimate Comics X-Men. "There's a lot of hatred and fear towards mutants in the Ultimate Universe — more so and more extreme than in the Marvel Universe," Paniccia said. "Cap knows it's not something he can ignore, yet he also knows the current protocol is unfair and unjust to these citizens. There is an executive order to shoot them if they don’t surrender themselves to the authorities. He can’t stand for that and he’s finally got the power to change it." The idea of making Captain America president isn't a new one — the character declined candidacy in a 1980 Roger Stern-written story set in the traditional Marvel Universe, and he ascended to the position in a subsequent non-continuity What If? issue.
Still, making Captain America president "for real" and actually sticking with it is something new, and telling those kinds of stories are part of the stated goal of the current Ultimate line."When you read an Ultimate book, you're going to find stories with these well-known characters that you've known for years that reveal them in new ways.," Humphries said. "You're going to see them doing new things. President Cap, I feel, is a really great fulfillment of that Ultimate mandate. " More from Newsarama:
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