In July, Ed Brubaker writes Steve Rogers in a brand new role as he leaves the Captain America costume behind in Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier.
Featuring art by Fantastic Four artist Dale Eaglesham, the four-issue Super-Soldier mini-series picks up where Siege left off, with the former Cap being told by his government that there is a role for him in the Marvel Universe.
Although Brubaker wouldn't reveal much about the character's future, the comic follows Steve as he investigates a mystery connected to the Super-Soldier program that created his superheroic abilities.
Brubaker, who first began writing a relaunched Captain America in 2004, has both killed off and resurrected Steve Rogers during the six years he's been overseeing the character's development. During Steve's time away, the mantle of Captain America was taken over by his former sidekick, James "Bucky" Barnes, who continues to wear the costume now that his mentor has returned from the grave.
Marvel announced the series on Thursday during a comic retailers summit in Chicago, and Newsarama talked with Brubaker to find out more.
Newsarama: Ed, what's the idea behind this mini-series? To tell a story that clarifies Steve's new role in the Marvel Universe?
Ed Brubaker: Yeah, this is really his first time where we get to spend a whole mini-series or any major amount of time just focusing on him since we killed him off back in Cap #25. Since he's been back, he's been here and there in other comics. He's one of the cast of Captain America, but this is sort of his first time being the star of the show.
But we're not necessarily calling him "The Super-Soldier" or anything like that. It's just the name of this mini-series, is Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier. And as far as his specific role, there's some other stuff that's still top secret that I can't really discuss about Steve.
Nrama: When we think of Steve Rogers, we think of him with the shield and the costume and the acrobatics. But there's a lot more to the character. Will this series kind of focus on his other skills?
Brubaker: Yeah, and also, him not running around in a Captain America costume or uniform, depending on how you want to refer to it, sort of opens up the question, "Who would this character be if he weren't Captain America?" What would he do, and what would he be in the Marvel Universe if he didn't have to put on a star-spangled uniform? Who is he then?
I think that's really interesting. The other times where that's happened, he's been pretty much a guy in a different costume. But I think in our modern times, it's more interesting to look at what other things we could do with this character.
Nrama: Since you're telling a story without tights, does this have a little different tone than Captain America?
Brubaker: Well, when I first started doing Captain America, people kept comparing it to 24, and I could see why. At the time, 24 was kind of big, and I was playing up the real-world aspects, to a large degree, of who Steve Rogers was. He wasn't being all Jack Bauer necessarily, but there was a lot of sneaking around in the shadows, trying to stop cities from being blown up, in the book.
Super Solder is a kind of story that we've either never or rarely seen Steve Rogers do. If I had to compare it to anything, I'd have to say it's like the recent James Bond movies, where it's this sort of hardcore, realistic story. Well, I guess I can't say realistic with the sh*t they do in those James Bond movies, but Steve Rogers can actually do that stuff, because he's "super!" [laughs]
But it's got a bit of that high industrial, real-world espionage flavor to it, but with it all sort of tying right back into Steve and his history at the same time. So he's playing a bit of a James Bond role in this, but don't take that too literally.
Nrama: Without trying to get too literal on you with the James Bond reference, does Steve act more as an international spy than a superhero?
Brubaker: Well, we do get to see Steve in disguise in this, which I think is pretty cool. I guess it's a little Mission Impossible too. It's sort of a globe-hopping, international espionage story. Part of it takes place in Madripoor, some of it takes place in South America. There are a lot of different places that Steve will be jaunting off to. I can't reveal too much or it will give too much away.
Nrama: Is he going to have a supporting cast, and is it new characters, or is it his usual group of friends?
Brubaker: No, it's Steve off on his mission. Other people will appear here and there. But really, it's just one sort of Steve-centric storyline that really stands separately. It's going to tie in here and there to the Marvel Universe, but not tie in to the point where, you know, "if you didn't read this you won't understand that" kind of thing. There are little Easter eggs in it here and there for people who read everything, so they'll see how it fits into the larger picture that I'm building in some of the other books like Cap, and stuff that's going on in other Marvel books.
We'll see Nick Fury here and there. We'll see Sharon Carter. We'll see these characters who are part of his life, but no one's fighting side-by-side with him in this.
But mostly it's Steve on this big, high-octane espionage story with lots of stuff blowing up and him being put through the ringer, really.
Nrama: What is he investigating off on his own? What's the story behind his mission?
Brubaker: I don't want to reveal too much, because I don't want to ruin it. But for me, it's a chance to do a different kind of story in the Marvel Universe that taps into his history and what the whole idea of "super-soldier" actually means. And why he was created.
Some of this is stuff he feels he has to go off and do on his own, because there are things that have happened to him that he doesn't want to bring other people into. He doesn't want to always be talking about the past. He's a guy who's sort of trapped by his own past.
But at the heart of everything is the experiment that created him. I don't want to reveal too much more than that.
Nrama: You know, I'm imagining Dale Eaglesham's art on an espionage story, and it's going to be really interesting to see what he does with it. Have you seen his art for this yet?
Brubaker: Not really. He's just getting started, because he was finishing up Fantastic Four. The little communication I've had with him so far about the project, I just wanted to feel out what he was up for drawing. And with Steve, I always like to have flashbacks to World War II and the early days of him being Cap, and even before that sometimes, with the 98-pound weakling version. And a lot of artists don't want to draw World War II. It's like how a lot of artists don't want to draw horses. It depends what they're up for. And Dale was totally up for some flashback scenes, which is very cool.
I'm psyched to have him because I loved his FF stuff, and the stuff he was doing with Geoff [Johns] on JSA -- I thought it was his best work. So it'll be fun to do this project with him.
Nrama: While this will be a little different for Dale, it's hard to ignore, Ed, that you've done a lot of espionage stories. Is that just the type of story with which you're most comfortable? Or that you enjoy writing the most?
Brubaker: Yeah, that's my favorite part of superhero comics, the genres that espionage stories work within. "Superheroes" is not really a genre. They are what they are, and you can do all kinds of stories within that. I guess maybe they're considered a genre, but in my mind, you can do a sci-fi story with a superhero, you can do a pulp fiction/noir story with a superhero. When I was writing Daredevil, I thought of it as a noir story. I didn't think of it as a superhero book.
With a lot of the stuff I've done on Captain America, yeah, you need to get into the giant superhero battles, but my favorite stuff about Captain America and S.H.E.I.L.D. is what Steranko was doing, which was really riffing off of the early '60s, Ian Fleming, high-espionage, sort of tech-gadgety kind of vibe that was really popular at the time. That kind of James Bond thing. That's what I think is neat about superhero comics. So that's kind of, you know, where my love of Captain America and these characters grew from.
And let's face it: Steve Rogers is a guy who came out of a secret government experiment. [laughs] It doesn't get more "espionage" than that. They had spies in the room from Germany who were waiting to stop the experiment and kill the scientist. Steve was born in espionage.
Nrama: Did the story for this emerge from your work on The Marvels Project, as you immersed yourself in Steve's past?
Brubaker: Not so much. It really came from just Tom Brevoort and I talking, and he said Marvel wanted to do a Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier mini-series because Steve isn't the solo star of any book right now. That's something that's missing.
So I just started thinking what I would do with that book. And I was thinking about what I was doing in my other books, so I thought it would be nice to do something that felt like a companion piece to them while still being this really cool, stand-alone Steve Rogers thing. And then I immediately thought it needs to be something that feels important.
The thing I hate about stand-alone, side mini-series for characters is I often feel like, when you're done reading them, you just think, "Oh, that was just another adventure for them. That could have easily been in the monthly book." Or if it's not done by the people who are sort of the caretakers of that character's universe, then it's completely insignificant. "Well, that was a cool story, but no one will ever reference it again." So I wanted to make sure this seemed like something that was a cool story for Steve Rogers where it's something that actually matters, where it's one of those stories that gets to the heart of who he is, and why he is what he is. A story that really drives him and sets up potential things for the future at the same time.
My goal is to make it feel like it fits into the larger world that I've been building all these years on Cap. And now with other books that I'm working on. So they all feel like they're sort of tied together, and they feel like they matter. I want to obviously tell a really cool story in the Super-Soldier mini, but I'm also making sure it really matters.