In 1995, Mark Waid succeeded Mark Gruenwald on Captain America, after the late writer and editor’s prolific decade-long run on the character. With the stories “Operation: Rebirth” and “Man Without a Country,” Waid's run on the title became one of the most critically acclaimed books of the era.
Waid’s tenure as Captain America writer was cut short by the year-long “Heroes Reborn” initiative, after which he returned for another 23 issues and the Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty spinoff title, wrapping both in 1999. Even after more than a decade, Mark Waid and Captain America are still strongly associated with each other — which is precisely why it’s a big deal that he’s writing Steve Rogers again in the upcoming five-issue miniseries Captain America: Man Out of Time, announced Thursday afternoon during the "Mondo Marvel" panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego.
Teaming with artist Jorge Molina, the story deals with Captain America’s enormous adjustment upon being defrosted by the Avengers and waking up in a different time — in this series, a much more modern era than the one of Avengers #4. We caught up with Waid and series editor Tom Brevoort to find out how Cap will face his strange new world.
Newsarama: Mark, obvious question first — how fun is it to get a chance to write Captain America again?
Mark Waid: Great fun, but a daunting task. There may have been more great Captain America stories told in the last 10 years than in any other decade, so the bar's definitely been set high.
Nrama: Tom, what can you tell us about the process involved in getting Mark Waid back on a Cap book? Is it something that had been in the works for a
Tom Brevoort: There wasn't all that much to it. I simply called Mark up and pitched him the general concept for the series. I tend to know him well enough at this point to have a decent grasp on what sorts of stories and projects are likely to interest him.
Nrama: This series is about Captain American adjusting to modern life after being frozen since World War II. What is it about this period in the character's history that you find to be especially rich territory worth exploring?
Waid: The adjustment Steve Rogers had to make. Remember, in 1964, when this story was first told by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, everyone in the Marvel Universe reacted with celebration to Cap's return largely because most Americans knew who he was and had missed him. But by the Sliding Scale of Marvel History, as we retell the story, Cap woke up much closer to the dawn of the 21st century, nearly six decades after he'd vanished. Most Americans of that era, if they know him at all, regard him as a myth from the past and, today, probably just some actor hired as a cynical publicity stunt to generate goodwill for this new team New Yorkers have been hearing about called "The Avengers."
Nrama: The Captain America you wrote was one who had been used to modern life for years. How is this Captain America different — not just a man out of time, but also a Captain America that is waking up in a world filled with superhuman folks?
Waid: Oh, he'll definitely feel a little outclassed at first, power-wise. When he disappeared, how many superhumans were there? And how many are there now?
Nrama: Is this series strictly in-continuity, or maybe something that doesn't necessarily contradict anything, but doesn't adhere to any specific continuity, either? Or something else entirely? Essentially, will the Avengers team that found Captain America in Avengers #4 be the same one that finds him here?
Waid: In my retelling, the Avengers who find Captain America are Silverclaw, Rage, Sersi and Demoltion Man. Kidding. I kid. Absolutely they'll be the same Avengers. And the story should slot pretty neatly into established continuity without breaking anything; I'll do my best to get that right.
Nrama: This definitely seems like more of a personal, cerebral story, but I'm sure there are some external threats that Captain America will face, too. What can you tell us about which antagonists we might see in series?
Waid: Tom and I discussed this, and he's been very supportive with the idea that while we both want some good Captain America action in this, it seems hokey and familiar and predictable to build an overarching plot on the nefarious machinations of some supervillain. This is more of an internal story with internal conflict. And with shield-slinging.
Nrama: Will Captain America seek the advice of those who were also around in WWII — Namor, Nick Fury — but had the advantage of being able to progress along with society?
Waid: At least at first, he won't have met those characters. But that's a very good suggestion and consider it filed away for reference.
What are you looking forward to with Mark Waid writing Captain America again?