In Captain America by Ed Brubaker, James "Bucky" Barnes continues to wear the Captain America costume even after the return of his mentor.
But does he deserve it?
"The Trial of Captain America," the new storyline that started last week with Captain America #611, forces the new Cap to face his former misdeeds and determine whether he's earned the right to wield the shield.
And when the story ends, Brubaker told Newsarama he'll write a special 70th anniversary issue for the title, then will kick off a back-up feature in Captain America that focuses on a mystery character as a result of the trial.
Newsarama: Ed, during your run on Captain America, we've seen the evolution of James to the point where he finally donned the Captain America costume. Now, with everything he's been through since, particularly this last storyline with Zemo, where is his head?
Ed Brubaker: He's trying to get to a point where he feels like he's earned being Captain America. I think he bought into a lot of what Zemo had to say, which is that redemption isn't something that someone just hands you.He's been carrying around this guilt over the things that the Winter Soldier did. Even though he knows it wasn't really him. It's hard for him to not feel that he ends up being used. When it was done with your hands and you have all the memories of these things being done, it's hard to get around it. He's just been trying to avoid it. You know?
He got to become Captain America, and that helped him not deal with it. So now, he's trying to actually find redemption.
Nrama: Is that the idea behind this trial, is to also delve into his own feelings with what he's done before?
Brubaker: A little bit, but it builds off everything we've done up to this point. So to me, the trial seems like an organic extension of everything since Issue #1, really. I've known all along that there would be a point where everyone would find out that Bucky was Winter Soldier, and all the stuff he did, and that there'd be some type of blow-up about it.
And it fits in with the kind of media narratives we have in our country too. Things become news, and so stuff has to happen because of them, since there is this 24-hour news cycle, as opposed to the way it used to be. There's a line in that issue where Steve Rogers tells the President, "you're President! You can do whatever you want! FDR pardoned Namor after he flooded downtown Manhattan!" You know? But he points out that FDR didn't have to deal with a 24-hour news cycle.
This is just the next logical step on Bucky's journey, dealing with the fall-out about his past before he can move on to his future.
Nrama: As he moves toward the future, is the plan to maintain the same cast, with Sam and Steve and Sharon?
Brubaker: I don't want to reveal too much of what's coming. There are some surprises in the next few issues. Some characters I hope people aren't expecting to get involved in this story.
You'll see. I don't want to say too much.
The only thing I will say is, if all goes as planned, starting in the storyline after the trial story, we're doing a special anniversary issue of Cap's 70th year. The 70th anniversary issue next spring. After that, in the issues that follow, I'll be doing both the main feature and writing the back-up feature. And they'll be intertwining stories.
Nrama: Will the back-up feature focus on a different character than the main story?
Brubaker: Nope, can't say. I don't want to spoil anything that's happening with the trial. If I tell you who's starring in the stories, that will spoil what's coming.
Nrama: And we don't want spoilers. But we saw Sin at the end of the last issue, laughing maniacally. She's obviously playing a role in the coming issues, right?
Brubaker: Oh yeah. She's in this next arc in a big way. There are some other characters that play roles in the story. I don't want to reveal too much. There's only so much you can do with a courtroom drama. So I want to withhold as many surprises as possible. But I will say there will be some surprises.