Captain America: Reborn #1, Alex Ross coverSpoilers ahead for Captain America: Reborn
The next chapter in the saga of Captain America is about to begin.
As reported earlier this morning, the July-debuting five issue miniseries Captain America: Reborn will be just that – Steve Rogers returning to the land of the living. The seeds of that return are planted in Captain America #600, on sale today in comic shops. Safe to say, what Sharon Carter (who fatally shot Cap back in Captain America #25) originally remembered happening on those courthouse steps may not actually be what happened. And that gun? Maybe it wasn't what she thought it was. In Reborn, Cap writer Ed Brubaker and artist Bryan Hitch – along with Butch Guice – will bring the original star-spangled hero back.
One quick publication note - Captain America will go on hiatus after issue #601 (featuring art by Gene Colan), allowing Reborn to run its course for five months. Captain America #602 will then hit stores in November or December.
Earlier this morning, just after the news hit, Newsarama spoke with Marvel Executive Editor and Captain America editor Tom Brevoort to talk about Reborn and the news of Steve Rogers’ return.
Newsarama: Tom, in the Daily News piece, Joe told reporter Ethan Sacks that "We've been patiently planning for this moment for 2 1/2 years." Can you take us inside some of that planning? From the death, Joe and others that Marvel had been suggesting that Steve's death might not be forever - but did this story begin with a definite endpoint in mind?
Tom Brevoort: We didn't have a specific date or anything, but we knew we'd be getting to this point sooner or later. In our naivety, Ed had originally planned to bring Steve back around issue #30--that didn't quite work out that way, for very positive reasons! Nevertheless, we've been ready to pull the trigger on this phase of the storyline whenever the moment seemed right.
NRAMA: We won't spoil the means by which it seems that Cap might be brought back, but was that exit door always there from the very start? That is, when Ed wrote the scene in Captain America #25, did he know everything about all of the pieces, even though he wasn't revealing it all?
TB: Absolutely, as you'll see right away in Captain America #600 and in Reborn #1. The mechanism for Cap's return was planted in plain sight, especially if you'd been reading the series before #25.
Captain America: Reborn #1 - Joe Quesada variantNRAMA: You mentioned a possible start of a return with issue #30, but how flexible was that endpoint? As we've all seen, readers seemed to take to Bucky pretty quickly and strongly, thanks to Ed's story. Was that built into the equation, that is, if Bucky proved to be popular, you'd let it ride for a while?
TB: Absolutely. We've been mainly reacting with our gut in terms of how long to go on this. Bucky as Cap proved to be incredibly popular, and the fact that we've been able to make the series so successful for so long without the title character is a testament to what Ed and the artists have crafted. But by that same token, we didn't want to string things out for too long or too artificially. There's always a temptation to stay the course to the point where the readers are ready to throw you off the stage, and then to rush into a reversal in an attempt to persuade them to stick around. We never wanted to get to that point, so every six months or so, we'd assess where we were and where we were likely to be, and determine if we were ready to enter the endgame.
NRAMA: How do you view the response to Bucky's tenure as Captain America? Did it surprise you that the majority of readers jumped on board as much as they did?
TB: Honestly, it never worried me for a minute. While at the outset we considered some other candidates for the job, including the Falcon and Hawkeye, once we'd settled on the idea of Bucky taking over the mantle, it seemed like the sort of thing that would work for people. The Winter Soldier has proved very popular with people since his return, surprisingly so since his existence is in defiance of one of the great taboos of the Marvel Universe, bringing Bucky back. To me it was a short step from there to having him take Steve's place. And once we involved Alex Ross on the costume design and set up the pieces in the issues preceding #34, I was confident that it was all going to fly.
Sharon's memories ain't what they used to be...NRAMA: What do you think that Bucky's success as Captain America has showed?
TB: I don't think there's any greater truth to be found within that success than the fact that the creative team is really good at what they do. There's a temptation to pull some greater conclusion out of this, like the readers are all ready for all of the Marvel characters to be replaced by sidekicks or something, but I don't think what we did on Cap is indicative of anything greater than the skill of the creators.
NRAMA: There's been a lot of attention (to put it mildly) over Captain America #600 and now Reborn #1, with changes in on-sale dates, promises of media coverage, retailer anticipation, what is mentioned in the press, what isn't mentioned in the press, etc. Is that level of noise distracting at all for you?
TB: Not really, no. It adds a certain amount of pressure to making sure that we hit our marks, but that's about it. We don't work any harder to make the book good just because we know this sort of press is coming. But it does make us scrutinize the issue even more closely, to make extra sure that a reader who hasn't followed Cap since his death in #25 can pick up Reborn #1 and figure out what's going on and who everybody is.
NRAMA: Moving to Reborn itself, when it started getting underway, what was behind the decision to put Bryan on the miniseries? Obviously Ed would be there, but why Hitch?
TB: It was all too easy, we needed a challenge. No, seriously, Bryan's clearly one of the top illustrators in the business, and after Captain America #25 came out, he mentioned to Joe Q that he'd be interested in working on the story that brought him back. And with Steve Epting already committed to The Marvels Project, the stars aligned that way. It's a big, important project, so you want a big, important artist.
NRAMA: Obviously, albeit unfortunately, with Bryan on a project, questions are raised by some fans about the issues meeting its deadlines. Can you tell us what safeguards are in place so that all five issues of Reborn hit their marks?
Captain America: Reborn #1, John Cassaday coverTB: Butch Guice, the iron man of the Cap world. Not only is Butch going to be embellishing Bryan's pencils on the series, but it's understood that, if we start to fall behind, Butch can step in to help out on the penciling. He's really the not-so-secret weapon of the whole project.
NRAMA: Fair enough. Now something that wasn't mentioned in the Daily News story was the fate of Bucky. Personally, I get the impression that Bucky would gladly hand the costume back to Steve, but just in case that's not how things go down - is the Marvel Universe big enough for two Captain Americas?
TB: That's the question, isn't it? But that also assumes that Steve will want the outfit back, or that he'll be in mental and physical shape to take it back by the end of Reborn. Either way, one of the big questions that Bucky's going to have to face, that he's been avoiding all these months while he's been busying himself in trying to carry on for Steve, is where does James Barnes fit in the world of 2009? What kind of a life can he have?
NRAMA: In the eyes of many fans, Ed's done an admirable job at keeping Captain America, the series, free of "intrusions" from the Marvel Universe proper during his run. That said, will Reborn be a fully Cap-centric story, or will we see echoes of Dark Reign, and other larger current elements?
Captain America #1, Ross cover with trade dressTB: I'm not sure that "intrusion" is the right word--I just think that readers like the stories Ed has been telling. Certainly one of the complaints we've been hearing about, say, Fantastic Four is that there haven't been enough "intrusions" from the rest of the Marvel Universe, and it's had more than Cap. That all aside, Reborn will be a Captain America story, but one that takes place within the larger Marvel Universe. So yes, you'll be seeing Norman Osborn and the Dark Avengers and the Mighty Avengers and Doctor Doom and assorted other characters as the series moves forward.
NRAMA: We'll certainly be talking with you and Ed as things move closer, but to close, can you let us go with a tease...can you give us a hint as to the opening of issue #1?
TB: It's very reminiscent of the opening of Ultimates #1 - enough so that I can hear the angry fan outcry already. But then it goes in a completely different direction.