A Cap Catchup with Ed Brubaker

A Cap Catchup with Ed Brubaker

Captain America #44

This week saw the latest issue of Captain America hit comic shops, the second part of the three-issue “Time’s Arrow” arc, which, among other things, fills in more of Bucky’s past as the Winter Soldier, and the return of Batroc the Leaper.

Due to scheduling issues, it’s been a little while since we’ve spoken with Captain America writer Ed Brubaker, so we wanted to catch up with him on the conclusion of “The Man Who Bought America” arc, Bucky finally debuting to the public as Captain America, and more. And hey, if you haven’t read issue #44 yet, this interview has no spoilers – so read away!

Newsarama: Ed, it's been a little while since we last spoke about Cap, so before we get into the new arc, let's talk about the conclusion of ‘The Man Who Bought America.’ First off, let's look at what ultimately took down Skull's plan - his planned jump into Sharon's body…or was that the plan?

Ed Brubaker: That's not what the Skull's plan was at all. He was going to go into the body that was appearing on the platform. Sharon broke the machinery and prevented all that. And yeah, that scene has been part of the plan since issue #25 was written.

NRAMA: Just before Sharon shoots Lukin...we saw Skull talking "as" Lukin...

EB: Right - Lukin was finally free of the Skull, is what happened there, and he was ecstatic about it, because it had been so long since he had his mind to himself. Then Sharon stepped out and shot the hell out of him.

NRAMA: There's been some commenting among readers about the treatment of Sharon - that is, her mind was taken over, she was a prisoner, (a pregnant one at that), tortured, lost the baby, and despite killing Lukin, is now shown to be in rough shape, and has Sam looking over her. Can you comment on how you saw Sharon throughout this storyline, and where we are, relative to her larger story?

EB: Oh, Sharon's story is far from over. She's just out of the spotlight for a while. She's one of my favorite characters and I think she was the real hero of the last few years of the book, in many ways. She's had a rough time, but she made it out the other side. Her instinct to be willing to die to save what would have been her baby really broke her out of mind-control, and so I saw that as a small piece of Steve saving her, which is how she would think of it, too.

Captain America #45

NRAMA: Moving up to where things are now - the relationship between Natasha and Bucky...how would you characterize it? Clearly, they're reunited lovers, but is this anything more than an affair of convenience for them, fueled by adrenaline and seeing each other in tight clothes, or is there something real there?

EB: Oh, well, time will tell, but yeah, they're seeing a lot of each other. For her, he represents an understanding of her past, as well as an early love returned. And for Bucky, she's one of the only people who knows everything about him, or nearly everything.

NRAMA: By the end of issue #42 - where did you want to have Bucky in regards to his role?

EB: Accepting it, basically. I saw the Bucky part of this as him struggling to live up to the legacy of Steve Rogers, and being uncomfortable with it, even. So ultimately he has to accept this is what's happening, this is who he is, and this is how he pays life back for everything bad he did.

NRAMA: Moving on to #43 and "Time's Arrow" - this is a clearly marked three issue arc. Structurally, is that what you're looking at now for the immediate future - shorter arcs?

EB: Well, it's a shorter arc, but it leads right into another three-parter, so it's really a bigger two-act story, in some ways.

NRAMA: Also in issue #43, you established that Bucky has been active in the Marvel U as Cap - with the scenes that show him fighting against AIM, Wrecker, and then in Secret Invasion. As we've talked about before, Bucky's been very limited in his appearances outside of Captain America, and you managed to keep Secret Invasion out of the series or see him spin off into his own SI miniseries. With this page and the conclusion of ‘The Man Who Bought America’ behind you, have you kind of "given your blessing" to seeing Cap/Bucky show up in other books?

EB: Yeah, in a few. I needed to get all the way through “Man Who Bought America” before I could have him publicly revealed, and that coincided nicely with his appearances in Secret Invasion. But yeah, I really wanted his public debut to be that moment when he saves the Presidential Candidates during the debates, especially when I realized the timing of these issues would actually be close to the real debates.

Captain America #46

So now, a month or so has passed in the Marvel U and Captain America, the unregistered one with the gun, has been seen a bit, and accepted by a lot of other heroes. There's one prominent series where you'll soon be seeing a lot of New Cap, actually.

NRAMA: Not that you're writing every other book in the Marvel U, but in your view, how do the other heroes of the Marvel Universe see, or should see Bucky/Cap? Obviously, they know he's not Steve...and given the paranoia following Civil War and Secret Invasion, it would seem like now is the worst time to show up as a new guy in the Marvel Universe, even if you’re wearing a familiar costume...

EB: That's true, but in Bucky's case, it's a bit different... He's been given clearance by the Falcon and Black Widow, Nick Fury is tight with him, and he's stood toe-to-toe with Hawkeye over the shield. He's earned some respect, and is being given the chance to prove he deserves more. Plus he fought side-by-side with Thor and Iron Man against the Skrulls. That didn't hurt his popularity with the other capes.

NRAMA: Globally speaking, with a new storyline started, and the cast looking ahead (that is, they're not focusing on Cap's death as they had been since #25...) how do you keep Steve as a "part" of the book?

EB: For now, this is becoming much more Bucky's book, as this next arc really brings the New Cap face-to-face with his past as the Winter Soldier. And much of that concerns the legacy he's trying to live up to... so Steve's shadow still haunts the book even when it's not front and center.

NRAMA: Batroc...ah, Batroc. I remember back when Mark Waid was writing Cap, that he took it as something of a personal challenge to make Batroc cool - perhaps for the first time. What do you see in him, and why is he a worthy foe for Cap...or for anyone, for that matter?

EB: Batroc was always kind of cool, I just hated the accent. But the idea of this hardcore French mercenary/kung fu expert was always good. If you look at his early appearances, he didn't become a joke for a while, when the accent was played up for laughs. I guess I was picking up the challenge where Mark left it. Although I wish we'd been able to change his colors and costume more.

Captain America #47

NRAMA: Speaking of the accent you handled that problem a bit by having him speaking entirely in French for a period. We're not wanting to portray Newsarama as one of those culturally insensitive sites that never took French in college, but...well, we never took French in college...

EB: He's mostly talking smack. That was my solution for the accent, to just have him speak French. My favorite part is the beginning, where the guard asks "is that French?" and he kicks him and says "Oui." It's just so condescending.

And hey, I don't speak French either. I wrote it in English and sent it to my editor for the French editions of Criminal and got him to translate it for me.

NRAMA: Along with bringing back Batroc, which can in and of itself, induce cringes in some fans, you paid homage to Kirby's scene showing Steve wearing the shield under his street clothes (which if I remember correctly, was a styling pinstripe suit the kind only the King could get away with drawing). That scene was in Marvel's Official No-Prize Book...you're a huge Cap and Marvel fan...why, man, why? Why bring the idea that Captain America's large, inflexible shield can easily fit on someone's back? Or is your back 30" across, and you just figure everyone can hide one there, too? [laughs]

EB: I know, but... come on, it's comics, man. Sometimes you have to do stuff like that or it's no fun.

NRAMA: Any hints on what kind of archive Batroc's guys were stealing from the UN?

EB: Yeah, there are hints all over the issues. (Maniacal laughter)

NRAMA: Given the parallel storylines in the issue, we're going to see Professor Zhang Chin again?

EB: Oh yeah, he's going to become a recurring villain, I hope. I even have a cool name for him that I have yet to reveal.

NRAMA: Bigger picture, what's your goal with the book in the short term, now that you've established - firmly - Bucky as Cap?

EB: Just to keep our readers entertained. We've held onto a huge amount of people who jumped onboard after the Death issue, and here we are, almost 25 issues from that. I just want to reward the people who are coming along for the ride, because this has been amazing for me.

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