(A) Captain America is Still Dead, Alas
Cover to Captain America #38
We’re running just a bit late with this issue’s installment, but we’re still checking in with Captain America writer Ed Brubaker about each new issue of the series.
This time, we’re talking about issue #38 – the fake Steve was revealed to be the ‘50s Captain America, very much alive and kind of well, and Bucky and Falcon went on their first mission – and kicked AIM butt while they were at it.
So – over to Ed.
Newsarama: Ed, let's talk about the bigger picture with your storyline. As readers are seeing, the whole "Cap is Dead" is also giving you the chance to streamline/clean up the larger "Captain America" continuity. Was that always part of the plan, to tie everything it - Jack Monore, the Grand Director, and...well, everything, or was it more happy circumstance/coincidence when it all started rolling?
Ed Brubaker: No, if you were to see my original Cap pitch, the Cap from the 50s is in there, it just took me longer and a stranger route to get there than I had sketched out. I don't know if I'm streamlining or cleaning-up anything. Cap's continuity is pretty straightforward, for the most part, I think. But yeah, a bit of the old and a bit of the new has always been my plan of attack. You don't take on a book like Cap without a lot of affection for the history of the series and the characters. That's why you're seeing characters like Union Jack and Spitfire and Nomad and the Cap from the 50s.
NRAMA: Personally - you're a Cap fan. Is there some level of "smoothing" that you're doing that has its roots way back with the addition of the retcons that gave the Marvel U the "multiple Caps"?
EB: Not at all. I think they handled that stuff really well in the 70s, which is why I've been referencing that part of the history since the early issues of the book. Remember there was that issue where Cap went to the graves of two other Caps after him.
NRAMA: Right, right. Speaking of those other Caps, you revealed who he was this issue, and confirmed a lot of suspicions on the fans’ part. Ballparking, in your view of the timeline, how long as the Grand Director/Cap been "sleeping?"
EB: That's hard to say, because of the sliding timeline stuff. I'd say a while - ten years, but that's just a ballpark guess.
NRAMA: So what exactly happened to him after his last appearance? Faustus grabbed him back?
EB: You have to read through the lines a bit on that one, but clearly this is what Faustus was hiding in that facility that the Falcon found, so yeah, he's had him all this time, healing from his massive burns.
NRAMA: Your view - the Grand Director - tragic figure or evil? And does that affect how you treat him in the story?
EB: Oh, I think he's a tragic character, of course. He's the ultimate Cap fan, driven crazy by the very thing that allowed him to take up the mantle in the first place. That's why I wanted to use him. I'm much less interested in his "Grand Director" phase than his time as Cap and that obsession he had. I never refer to him as the Grand Director. To me he's the Cap from the 50s. Or the crazy Cap.
NRAMA: Take us inside Sharon's head here - she's a little fuzzy 'round the edges, admittedly, due to what's been going on, but to kill this "Steve" in cold blood? Why?
EB: Because she's been through hell, and now she sees that the Red Skull is going to use Steve's image and Captain America yet again, to his own twisted purposes. After everything she's been through, feeling doomed to some degree, she just can't let it happen.
NRAMA: At this point, why doesn't Faustus just kill Sharon? There seems to be a point you're headed to that Scott Evil pointed out in Austin Powers where someone just needs to go to their room, grab their gun, and pop a cap in her ass, rather than keeping her around so she can cause trouble...
EB: Because they all know she's carrying Captain America's baby.
NRAMA: Oh – right. Good point. Is it just me, or are Lukin and Faustus sniping at each other a little more than normal here? Or is just the normal friction seen when men of great egos work together?
EB: Yeah, they're not getting along. None of the bad guys are, really. They all want to be in charge, and it's not going well.
NRAMA: Again, it's worth pointing out, I think, how the presidential campaign here is mirroring what we're seeing, and thus adding resonance that other Marvel titles really can't grab on to. When did you write this issue, and what was the climate like then? Obviously, the calls for "change" were as strong, but we don't have a third party candidate - yet. Given how Cap has been mapping pretty closely to our world, were you expecting to see one crop up in our political race, complete with some of the same issues as Sen. Wright?
EB: This one was probably written two or three months ago, but plotted out six months or more before that. I'm not really trying to reflect our current election, other than with the timing of the issues being published. Still, this being an election year, the Red Skull having his own "outsider" style candidate was something I couldn't pass up, you know? But as you'll see in the next few issues, the stuff Senator Wright says in his speeches isn't really about anything or meant to reflect one side of our politics or the other.
NRAMA: Faustus and Skull - watching the news report - again, props to Steve in the final panel, as it's clear that Faustus is studying Skull with as much vigor as he's putting into the other plans. I mean - he calls him Lukin when he's not wearing the mask, "Skull" when he is, even though he's the same man. Safe to say that Faustus has his metaphorical escape pod standing by? He's clearly not one of Skull's True Believers...
EB: I don't know if I'd go that far, but yeah, Faustus is used to running his own show, so working under the Skull isn't going so well for him. But the Skull/Lukin thing - they aren't really the same guy. They're just sharing the same body, so when the mask is off, that's when Lukin is in control.
NRAMA: Moving into the attack on the installation - the AIM guys are using deadly force, but Bucky isn't shooting. Why's that? Just easier for him to disable them with the shield at this point, has he made a decision not to use it, or...what? For the hulabaloo about the knife and gun when the new costume was revealed, there hasn't been a ton of use of either at this point...
EB: Well, I'm not responsible for the hullabaloo, I just write stories. Media screeds to the opposite, I never saw any big deal to Bucky having weapons as the new Cap, because he's always carried weapons (in WW2, as Winter Soldier, etc). Alex Ross didn't have a problem with it, either, so I really wasn't expecting it to be a big deal.
Still, he's fired the gun a few times and stabbed Crossbones in the leg. But even before he took on the Cap mantle, he wasn't just wasting people left and right or anything. He took on AIM in the teen issues, and there was no body count then, either. He uses weapons when he needs them.
NRAMA: So what was in that installation that Zola blew up – where the ‘50s Cap was held?
EB: Right. That's where they processed the body of the Cap from the 50s, beginning the process of waking him up. They didn't want any evidence left of what they'd been there for. It's all in the issues, for readers who are paying close attention to the details. I've been trying really hard because of all the storylines I'm juggling to make sure clues and hints are scattered throughout.
NRAMA: So - next ish - we've seen the cover...Grand Director Cap vs. Bucky Cap. Any hints at what to expect? How good of a "Cap" was Grand Director Cap? Was he Steve Rogers “good,” or more along the lines of Bucky Cap “good?”
EB: No hints.
I think the 50s Cap was a pretty good Cap for a while. He certainly wanted to be, and was never considered evil until he started to go nuts.