Captain America has been through a lot, but that’s still not enough to prepare him for what went down in today’s Captain America #10. This issue, by series writer Rick Remender and artist John Romita Jr., acted as the finale of the “Dimension Z” arc and a tragic coda to one of Captain America’s most harrowing periods of his life.
In this week’s Captain America #10 on stands now, Cap faced off with Godzola in Dimension Z and succeed, only to see his long-time partner and lover Sharon Carter fall to her death as he escaped (though she gets a more detailed, heroic death scene after he jets off). Carter has been a fixture in Captain America since Ed Brubaker took over the series in 2004, becoming one of Steve Rogers’ most trusted ally, confidante and companion.
As big as that is, there’s more to talk about with Rick Remender. We discussed Carter’s fate, as well as the upcoming “Loose Nuke” arc that brings disgraced super soldier Nuke back to the light and calls Cap back into action at one of the lowest points in his life.
As we said, SPOILERS AHEAD!
Newsarama: Rick, in an interview over at CBR, you described next month’s Captain America #11 as a sort of “brand-new day” for Cap. But after the events of today’s #10, it’s a dark night before then. What can you say about that?
Rick Remender: Again, it goes back to Steve spending his past 12 years in Dimension Z and suffering the loss of his adopted son. Also, spoilers here for those that haven’t read #10, but he also saw the death of Sharon Carter.
The death of Sharon isn’t something Steve will be able to recover from very easily. He’s been through a lot of loss recently, but he’s needed. Cap is need. So Steve Rogers stands up no matter how hollow or shattered he is. And he fights forward, but also sees his own limitations. And he’s going to experience those limitations.
It’s a brand new day for Cap starting with Captain America #11 – a brand new era, in fact. It’s the first step in what I have planned coming next.
Nrama: Coming next in September’s Captain America #11, you’re bringing back another member of the Super Soldier program – Nuke. This one-time super villain cut quite a different path than Steve Rogers, so can you sum up what his appearance here means to the series and your run so far?
Remender: As I said earlier, we’re entering a new era of Captain America after Dimension Z; Cap’s spent 12 years in Dimension Z but it’s only been an hour for people on Earth. Spoilers for those who haven’t read Captain America #10, but he’s in quite a different place. It looks like the same Earth to him, but it’s a very different, older Steve Rogers. For him the past twelve years saw him raise a son, topple an empire, but now he’s come back to Earth and nothing has changed for anyone else.
And Nuke is a character who is basically someone who wanted to be Steve Rogers but was turned into a super soldier during very tumultuous times during the Vietnam era. Basically, Nuke was misused and his mind was broken. And Nuke is someone who views himself as a super soldier, a pure patriot, fighting the good fight. He was one of America’s Super Soldiers after the disappearance of Captain America, but his mind was broken and he was misused.
Bringing Nuke in offered me the opportunity to reflect on Steve through Nuke, a mirror through two different eras. We’re entering a classic war story here, as well as Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s original story introducing Nuke. Basically we’re telling the next chapter in both Nuke and Steve’s lives. It’s a big story and one we took very seriously. This is a big focus on Nuke and also begins the transition back into traditional Cap stories with war, espionage and international spy fun.
Nrama: Nuke was last seen in the Raft after cutting off U.S. Agent’s left arm with the Spear of Odin and being shot in the face by Paladin in Thunderbolts. What kind of shape is Nuke in here, physically and mentally?
Remender: Much of what Nuke has been through has been erased from his memory. He’s someone whose mind has been endlessly tampered with and erased. Most of his memories since Daredevil: Born Again are broken bits scattered in his mind. We’ll be delving into who is doing this to him, manipulating him, giving him orders, and what their relationship is.
His last appearances in Thunderbolts doesn’t really play much a role. It’s more important, I think, to speak to the heart of the character that Miller and Mazzuchelli created and build off that and move down the line based on that origin.
Nrama: Nuke and Steve have crossed paths before, but they’re both at very different points in their lives now. How might Steve’s headspace, being just recently returned from years living in Dimension Z but only moments to those on Earth, affect him for not just Nuke, but in dealing with the world around him?
Remender: Steve is in a rough spot. Steve is needed to come back to his daily routine, but it’s been 12 years for him since he did that. To the people he works with like Maria Hill and Falcon, the world is still on red alert and there’s a number of things to be taken care of. Some of the people who are aware of what Steve’s been through want him to take some time off, but once he becomes aware of the turmoil in the world – namely Nuke – he knows he has to serve and he has to deal with him. He has to be Captain America, one way or another.
What I’m building with my Captain America run is that Steve Rogers is a man who gets up to fight, no matter what. There’s no “Born Again,” with him laying down in the gutter; he stands up no matter what. Showing a loose Nuke is a wonderful way to show the consequences of that tenacity as a human and a soldier. Putting Steve face-to-face with Nuke, who was misused by the Super Solider program and the government, will force Steve to look at the gray areas in his country’s philosophies, and push him to his limits given his current mental status.
I think a lot of the fun in this it to see Steve displaced and forced to acclimate with the mirror image of what he could have been. Had he come to the Super Soldier program later in life, he would have been Nuke. It’s going to build a lot of moral quandaries to navigate. He’s mentally at a state of exhaustion, and that plays a big role in #14 and #15.
Nrama: As we mentioned before, Nuke and Cap are both subjects of the Super Soldier program – which was connected together by Grant Morrison with the Weapon X program to be this decades-long program called Weapon Plus. I know you touched upon this somewhat in your Uncanny X-Force work, but this time you’re taking it on by the horns. First off, how do you feel about having them all interconnected in this secretly indoctrinated brotherhood from Cap to Nuke to Wolverine and even Fantomex?
Remender: Well, I like it. It’s part of the fun of the Marvel universe – the promise of interconnectivity between characters.
And more than just that, I’ll be introducing the Weapon Minus program – a program created by S.H.I.E.L.D. as a countermeasure against the test subjects the Weapon Plus program was creating. In this story arc we’ll be revealing a new prime antagonist for Cap in the Iron Nail, as well as a character called Dr. Mindbubble I’ve been developing and prepping for some time. He’s a product of the Weapon Minus program, but as someone molded to counter-act Nuke, Dr. Mindbubble was loaded not only with the Super Soldier Serum, but also LSD, adamantium and Timothy Leary books. I don’t want to reveal more, but that’ll all come out in the fourth arc.
I’ll be revealing more and adding to the mythology of the Weapon Plus and Weapon Minus programs, building a lot of fun conspiracy stuff.
Nrama: I’m not even sure of this, but does Cap know the full reach of the Weapon Plus program the way readers do?
Remender: He’s aware of Weapon Plus as well as many of the iterations like the Weapon X project, but not all of them. The real depths of the program has not been revealed, but we’ve seen a lot of notes on them.
I really love this whole thing, tying back to my Uncanny X-Force run as you said with the panel with Fantomex looking at a screen with pictures of all the other weapons like Cap, Nuke and Wolverine. It’s very cool to be able to do these stories with Captain America, the first Weapon, and put him in a situation with Nuke and the others leading into the big reveal of Weapon Minus and Winter Soldier’s involvement in all of this, as well as the introduction of Iron Nail.
Nrama: And teaming with you to bring this all to life is Carlos Pacheco. Pacheco’s a veteran hand in comics – did you seek him out for this, or was it the luck of the cards Marvel put you and him together?
Remender: he was someone on my list, and someone I’ve been a big fan of. Tom and I were going through a list of potential candidate artists to try out and Carlos’ name was the one Tom jumped at. We're very lucky to have him, and Klaus Janson inking and Dean White coloring. Issue 11 just went to print and it's amazing. I'm proud of it.
Carlos got on my mind recently after going back and re-reading Avengers Forever when I was writing the Kang story for Uncanny Avengers, and that put Carlos’ work at the top of my mind. Re-reading Avengers Forever I was just blown away and reminded what a genius Carlos is. How well he handles complicated action, and his knowledge of Marvel history especially. There are very few guys who can do what he’s done with his work on Avengers, and do what he did with Kurt Busiek. Carlos is basically a walking encyclopedia now in terms of Avengers lore, and that plays well with Captain America #11. He’s just great at everything.