The patriotic hero Captain Canuck is returning - and the original bearer, Tom Evans, is returning to the mantle.
Chapterhouse Comics is launching a new volume of Captain Canuck on July 12 with writer Kalman Andrasofszky and artists Leonard Kirk, Emmanuelle Chateauneuf, and Yinfaowei Harrison. Andrasofszky and Kirk worked on the previous volume of Captain Canuck, and the duo are better known for their work on Big Two titles like Fantastic Four and Wolverine.
This new Captain Canuck picks up following Tom Evans throwing down the name and quitting the global policing agency Equilibruim that he worked with. Personal issues, professional issues, and the dark murderous turn by his brother Michael North pushed Evans out into the cold, but now he's coming back - with the first issue explaining how, and why.
Newsarama spoke with Andrasofzky and Kirk about this new volume, their Canadian patrioticism, and how this book fits into the expanding Chapterverse superhero universe.
Newsarama: Kalman, this is a new #1 - and many new fans will be coming in. Can you set the stage for what Tom Evans and the Captain Canuck mantle is at the opening of the issue?
Kalman Andrasofszky: Sure thing, Captain Canuck is an original Canadian superhero created by Richard Comely and Ron Leishman in 1975. We brought him out of retirement a few years ago (with Richard’s blessing) updated his look, and rebooted the whole concept for comics and an online webseries.
Tom Evans served several tours in Afghanistan before following his shady brother Michael North to a mysterious Arctic Island, where they both were altered by an alien artifact. Tom got a physical upgrade and Michael a mental one. Together they run Equilibrium, a global crisis intervention agency: Michael as the brains, and Tom as the aspirational figurehead. (Spoilers) Except, by the end of the second arc, the ethical tug of war between the Evans brothers has come to a head, and when Michael murders Mr. Gold, Tom has no choice but to walk away - from Equilibrium, from the Canuck mantle, everything. No one’s seen him since.
Nrama: So - Captain Canuck is on the cover. What pushes him back to work?
Andrasofszky: Yeah, big spoiler right up front there, I guess: Captain Canuck is back! By the end of issue #1 the catalyst for Tom’s return to the red & white pajamas will be crystal clear.
Nrama: Leonard, I've enjoyed the costume design work you've done in the past, including with the Fantastic Four. Has there been anything you've gotten to design/redesign for this new arc of Captain Canuck?
Kirk: Not very much, actually. Kalman has done most of the design work for the series. I was allowed to come up with an airplane that Canuck flew, based on the Avro Arrow, a Canadian-made military jet that never went into full production…. some say for nefarious reasons. However, as I was simply going from an existing design, I don't really count that as mine. I did design some smaller craft, including an odd-looking shuttle jet for the Captain. Unfortunately, that craft was debuted, crashed and destroyed within a single issue.
Nrama: Can you tell us more about these aliens that are invading?
Andrasofszky: Well, here’s what we know so far:
Tom and Michael’s father Joseph, while investigating the alien crash he witnessed in the 70’s dubbed them ‘Borealis.’ we still don’t actually know what they call themselves.
We’ve seen a Borealis in the first arc, weakened and sick after being thawed from the arctic ice, and kept in a pen by Mr. Gold.
Michael Evans communed with it psychically, and as a result, believes a full-scale invasion is imminent. But he also killed it immediately afterward, so no one has been able to verify this.
Joseph Evans absolutely believed in the reality of the coming invasion, up to his disappearance in the early 90’s so make of that what you will.
We’ve also seen a powerful and mysterious extraterrestrial creature teleporting all over the globe, destroying anything is its path. Is it Borealis? Is this the start of the invasion? Or some other menace?
Nrama: I’ve got a question: Canuck has quit Equilibrium - but are they still in the picture?
Andrasofszky: Oh, yes. If you’ve been reading Agents of P.A.C.T., you’ll have gotten a glimpse of the new deal over at Equilibrium. A sans-Canuck Equilibrium is a much more militaristic and much less cuddly organization.
I’ve always treated this title as a two-hander. Canuck gets the larger page allocation, but there’s always a Michael plot thread too, and that continues in this new series. And with Michael, comes Equilibrium. He’s been a bit of a heel over in Agents of P.A.C.T., so I’m looking forward to getting back in his head here.
Nrama:This new Captain Canuck volume comes asNorthguard has spun off into its own series, as well as Freelance. Do you write the book differently now that it’s part of something larger?
Andrasofszky: Now that you mention it, I suppose I do. In the first two arcs, we only had a single title to encompass all the ideas for (what we now call) the Chapterverse, and as a result, it was a pretty dense read. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it was a maddening game of pacing Tetris trying to get everything to fit, each month.
Now that we have six titles through which to convey the stories in our universe, it allows the Captain Canuck title to let scenes breathe a little more, and take a little more time for character moments. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely action - in fact there’s more high-stakes widescreen action in #1, than in any issue of Canuck so far, and that’s just to get us warmed up!
Nrama: You're now a dozen issues into this Captain Canuck revival - how has it been for you?
Andrasofszky: Short answer? Absolutely amazing. I love every second of it.
Somewhat longer answer? It’s been a tremendous joy and honor to dust off our under-exploited national hero and reinvent him played straight and contemporary. Fadi [Hakim, Chapterhouse founder/CEO] and Keith [Morris, Chapterhouse’s Publisher] have been enthusiastically supportive of my ideas, from the moment I first pitched my four arc uber-plot, all the way through to my present role as Editor-in-Chief, where I get to showrun the whole Chapterverse. They’ve invested a great deal of trust in me, and I’m grateful each and every day.
Kirk: I have loved the idea of a 100% Canadian superhero for years. Such characters have existed in the past (and, no, I'm not talking about Wolverine - as much as I like him too). During World War II, American comic books were not imported into Canada so new comic books were published here to fill the void. Canadian comics fans saw the debut of characters like Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Johnny Canuck, Brok Windsor, etc.
When the war was over, and American comics returned to Canada, many of the Canadian publications disappeared. There have been a number of Canadian comics since then but most were (and are) produced through small press or self-publication. That's how Captain Canuck got started in 1975. I was a kid the first time I saw him sitting on a rack in a convenience store and was immediately drawn to him. It would still be a number of years before I actually got to read those issues as my mother refused to buy me a copy, at the time. The book cost a whopping 35 cents when all the other comics cost 25 cents.
Jumping to today, it is that 100% Canadian element of Canuck I have always enjoyed the most about the character. That's what drew me to him as a kid and it still draws me to him today. 99% of the characters and series I have drawn, during my career, have been American and I've loved most of them. But I have always found Captain Canuck to be so very distinct. Some plots, in the original and subsequent series, were not all that different from the kind you might read in mainstream American titles. But the flavor of the stories and the characters have always been unique. He just stands out from the crowd.
Nrama: And you're continuing to work with Leonard Kirk here. How do you feel you and he have meshed 12 issues in?
Andrasofszky: Don’t get me started on Leonard... I get rambly and gushy and it’s embarrassing for everyone. Simply put, Leonard Kirk is a national treasure. He brings my scripts to life like no one else. I’m an artist too, and so I write specific and dense and demanding, and Leonard always fits everything in, and makes it feel breezy and cinematic. The pages never look how I pictured - they’re always better!
Kirk: I think we've meshed very well. We've known each other, mostly through conventions, for years. Captain Canuck was our first professional collaboration. I just let Kalman do his thing and he's quite comfortable letting me do mine. He trusts me and allows me plenty of freedom to tell the story as I see fit.
I've been very lucky to have this kind of relationship with most writers, with whom I've partnered, over the years.
Andrasofsky: I want to take a moment here and big up our new cover artist, John Gallagher. John comes from the concept art world and does a ton of work for the DC television slate (The Flash, Supergirl, etc) I wanted this new series to look like nothing else on the stands, so I hand-picked John to take over for me on covers - I am literally taking food out of my own mouth, I’m so excited about what this guy does.
Nrama: So, what are your big goals for Captain Canuck moving forward?
Kirk: My primary goal is always to visually tell a story as best I can. It remains the same here. For Canuck, specifically, my goal is to do what I can to get people to see him and to love him and to enjoy the hell out of the series. I want as many as possible to grab this title and keep the Captain strong.
Andrasofszky:I write this comic like it could have come from an alternate universe where Canada has a thriving comic industry of its own, full of dynamic IP that are distinct and vital. Where stories set in Canada aren’t odd, needing to be explained or apologized for, or undercut with a beaver joke. No beaver jokes in my book. (Okay… there might be one beaver joke.)*
I guess the ultimate goal is to make that imaginary alternate universe a reality in this universe, one book at a time, then who knows: more animation, television, movies, we’re hatching plans for all of it. And it really feels possible. This all began with me pitching a four-arc storyline. At that time, there were no guarantees we’d even get through one. But I’m beyond chuffed that we’re here talking about the imminent release of the third of those four.
*Sorry - Okay, I just checked, and there are in fact two beaver jokes. Sort of. Let’s say one-and-a-half beaver jokes.