This week, the fan-favorite Daredevil creative team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee bring Captain America out of Secret Empire and into “Legacy.” And despite the initiative’s focus on the past, Waid and Samnee are all about moving Steve Rogers forward - out of Hydra, and out of New York.
Starting with November 1’s Captain America #695, Rogers will leave the big city to get back in touch with the heartland of America. Newsarama spoke to Waid and Samnee on the eve of the issue’s release to find out what it takes to get Steve Rogers back in America’s good graces, and whether they’ll answer the question of Steve’s redemption.
Newsarama: Mark and Chris, a lot of fans (myself included) were anxious to see what the two of you would take on after your run on Black Widow – and now we know why you kept us waiting. How did the two of you taking on Captain America in “Legacy” come about?
Chris Samnee: If I remember correctly, Mark and I came up with a few characters we were interested in for after our Widow run. Once we knew Captain America was available, it seemed like the logical place for us to go! I'm such a huge fan of Mark's previous work on Cap and I knew he would come up with something great, especially since we got a chance to take Cap back to his roots. This just seemed like a project that fit both of us well.
Mark Waid: He remembers correctly. We were casting about for something post-Widow and since Cap had no writer plugged in post-Secret Empire, we took up the gauntlet.
Nrama: You’ve both worked on Captain America before – Mark, you’ve had several previous notable runs, and Chris, you drew Captain America & Bucky. Does this feel like coming home? How do you both plan to approach the character differently than you have before?
Samnee: For me, it's not exactly coming home since Captain America & Bucky was a period piece set in World War II. This was a chance for me to work with present-day Cap, which I was excited about. Visually, I wanted Cap back in his classic costume which editor Tom Brevoort was in favor of, so that really guided my approach.
Waid: It is coming home, but conditionally - I never would have re-signed if not for Chris, since (Counting "Man Out of Time") this will make my fourth (!) time at bat. And it's dangerous to go back to characters you've already had a run on since you'll inevitably be compared to your earlier self. So Chris is my safety net.
Nrama: Do either of you feel any pressure taking on what some fans would consider the 'make or break' title of “Legacy?”
Samnee: Um, not until just now! I can honestly say that I don't feel that kind of pressure, whether that's good or bad, I don't know! At the end of the day, I'm always pushing myself to do the very best I can do on each page so that's the pressure that I feel. If I'm happy with each page, I can only hope that my collaborators, editors and of course, the readers, are going to be happy with it too.
Waid: Only marginally. I'm really proud of what Team Cap has done (and that includes, as ever, Matt Wilson on colors and Joe Caramagna lettering) and we wouldn't have done anything any differently regardless of the stakes. But thanks for keeping me up nights now.
Nrama: We know Captain America is going back to his roots starting with #695 - punching Nazis, as the saying goes. What’s the status quo for Steve Rogers when we pick up here?
Waid: Time has definitely passed since the end of Secret Empire. We (and editor Tom Brevoort) went back and forth about that. Ultimately, however, the feeling was that we need to give this series its own feel and not worry too much about cleaning up Secret Empire’s loose ends, prolonging that storyline. There are nods to Cap earning back citizens' trust in the first issue, but after that, his status quo is ‘Searching For America.’ Steve's the king of the couch surfers in the Marvel Universe. Not that he's not had his own digs now and then, but he's really looking to settle down - and he's eager to get in touch with America's heartland rather than be bound to New York City.
Nrama: What’s he going up against in his first few issues back? We’ve seen Kraven the Hunter in future solicitations…
Waid: Kraven's a big one. We also meet a sinister group called Bastion in our first issue, and they'll be a big part of the upcoming "Capture the Flag" arc that culminates in #700.
Nrama: We’ve got a theory brewing about the evil Steve Rogers and a certain Cap villain who died during Secret Empire. Any chance we’ll see Hydra Cap show up?
Waid: No plans.
Nrama: Last time we saw Steve was in Marvel Legacy #1, where it seemed perception of Captain America was not particularly warm in the post Secret Empire climate. How does that affect Steve as a hero and as a person who is used to being welcome wherever he goes?
Waid: As I said before, we’ll address that a bit in Captain America #695. People still aren't sure exactly what to think of Cap, which is one of the reasons he's traveling by motorcycle as Steve Rogers. But by now, most people in the Marvel Universe know that the Secret Empire Cap was never the "real deal."
Nrama: Captain America has often been seen as a symbol of the United States – and that’s something Steve has struggled with over the years. How do the post-Secret Empire Marvel Universe environment and our overtly contentious real world political climate inform the story here?
Waid: It's funny, and thank you for the opening. People expecting to open up the first issue of our run and see threats torn from today's headlines are going to get something different. Chris and I have been working waaaaaaaay ahead on this book (we began in February), long before some of the more recent events that have left a mark on our nation, so it'll be a few issues before he's punchin' Nazis. But he will at some point be punchin' Nazis.
Nrama: Chris, without being too spoiler-y, what’s on your drawing board right now?
Samnee: I actually just turned in issue #698, so there's nothing on my drawing board today! I did however get amazing colors from Matt Wilson on both a cover and an interior page today that I can't wait for folks to see. He did a red, white, and blue color scheme for the cover - which I would never have thought of - and it looks amazing! He somehow gets better and better with every book we do.
Nrama: Chris, You’ve been credited slightly differently on each of your projects with Mark, including Captain America. What’s different about your role this time?
Samnee: For Black Widow, I was doing the bulk of the writing after Mark and I would talk story, with him doing a final dialogue pass - so it made sense to have me credited as "co-writer.” For Captain America, we've returned to how we were doing things on Daredevil - Mark and I talk story, then he writes script and I draw, so it made sense for us to go back to "storytellers."
Nrama: In this decade alone, Steve Rogers has been cycled out of the Captain America role three different times, only to return to the role eventually. Mark, how do you, as a writer, balance the idea of growing the character and moving forward with the knowledge that that they’ll probably wind up back in a familiar status quo eventually?
Waid: Coming back to the Captain America identity over and over again - he and I have that in common, don't we? Look, I'm a huge believer in not breaking the toys. But that means I have to work extra-hard to find takes on them that haven't been done before, ways of looking at the world through their eyes - and that's the fun of it.
Nrama: With Black Widow presumed dead, Bucky and Hawkeye off looking for her, and Falcon off on his own, who’s gonna be along for the ride this time?
Waid: Redwing. Just kidding. I hate that bird. No, Cap's flying solo.
Nrama: Mark, you’re co-writing “Avengers: No Surrender.” Any crossover here?
Waid: Not really, though “No Surrender” is shaping up to be one hell of an epic. (Cross-plug!)
Nrama: With Captain America #700 on the very near horizon, what can you tell readers about what’s in store for that milestone?
Waid: I really can't say much without spoiling #698-699, but I will tell you that Cap's up against a corrupt government - and it's not the one you'd expect.