The '50s Cap - Chaykin on Captain America: America First!

Chaykin on Captain America

In December, the second installment of Captain America Theater of War continues to explore the illustrious history of the greatest patriot in the Marvel Universe. Entitled “America First!”—the story, which is written, penciled, and inked by Howard Chaykin—stars the Captain America of the 1950’s and a young CIA agent named Nick Fury. Cap and Agent Fury find themselves not only at odds with each other but they are drawn into a new world of full of spies, saboteurs, and fifth columnists.

Newsarama contacted Howard Chaykin to discuss the upcoming one-shot which is so full of subterfuge and secrecy that Chaykin couldn’t really say much at all…but we’ve got two pages of interior art to hold us…but first - to set the scene, the solicitation for the issue reads:

In this second installment of a series exploring the storied history of America's greatest champion, Howard Chaykin pulls back the Iron Curtain on one of Captain America's wiliest nemeses -- Soviet Russia and her never-ending parade of spies, saboteurs, fifth columnists…so many we had to make this story double-sized! Before his role in “The Death of Captain America,” no one was more patriotic than the Cap of the Fifties, even if he does have Steve Rogers’ shoes to fill. Unfortunately, Nick Fury, a newly minted operative of the CIA, isn't about to let him off the hook that easily. But Cap and Fury better start working together, or they'll find themselves buried in Reds!

Newsarama: First off, let's talk about the breadth of the Theater of War one-shots and the fact that Captain America Theater of War: America First doesn't star Steve Rogers, right?

Howard Chaykin: Well...yes and no.

NRAMA: In terms of recent developments in the Captain America monthly book and the comic book history and origin story of 'The Grand Director', is the Cap of the 1950's like the outside-of-continuity Stan Lee, Mort Lawrence, and John Romita Sr. hero from the '50s comics? Or will he be a more heroic yet paranoid portrayal of the Grand Director/ Captain America who was eventually poisoned by the Nazi version of the Super Soldier Serum as indicated by Steve Englehart when the character was accepted into regular continuity in the early '70's?

HC: A bit of both--with a lot of finesse.

NRAMA: Will Jack Monroe play a role in the story as Bucky?

HC: Not this time.

NRAMA: What kind of role does Nick Fury play in this story?

HC: Fury is an operative working for the CIA, who is drawn into the conflict from the sidelines, and ends up allying with Cap.

NRAMA: How do you think the threat of the Russians differed from the threat of the Nazis to Captain America?

HC: From Captain America's perspective, Communism and Fascism simply represent two opposite ends of profoundly anti-American philosophies.

NRAMA: Howard, you're the writer, the artist, and the inker of this project--what do you find is your biggest challenge when you're handling all the immediate chores on a project?

HC: Research--making certain that there's a real ambience of the period in every aspect of the material--from the look to the language.

NRAMA: Are you currently reading Ed Brubaker's work on the monthly Captain America series? Would you be interested in writing the monthly Captain America book?

HC: I love what Ed's doing.

NRAMA: Let's discuss Captain America as a symbol--do you think Captain America has changed as a symbol in comics over the many decades of his existence? In your mind, what are some of the fundamental ideas of Captain America that transcend the men who have worn the costume?

HC: I believe that Captain America has always represented a centrist, all inclusive vision of America--he's a guy who walks into the room, and you can almost smell the wheat fields under the prairie sun-regardless of who's wearing the suit.

NRAMA: What else can fans expect from you at Marvel in the near future?

HC: I've got a miniseries coming up early next year, which I'm not at liberty to discuss, as well as a pet project that I'm waiting to hear about one way or the other.

NRAMA: Do you think the real United States of the 21st Century needs a symbol like Captain America in light of current events at home and abroad?

HC: You bet your ass we do--and now that the election's over, maybe we can get back to being a country that deserves a hero like Captain America.

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