Writer Brian Clevinger is used to dealing with America’s past, given how his Red 5 Comics co-creation Atomic Robo colorfully jaunts across the 20th century. Given Clevinger’s growing credits with Marvel Comics — he’s writing the two-issue World War Hulks: Wolverine vs. Captain America, the first installment of which is out this week, plus the August-debuting Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet —more work seemed inevitable, and a World War II-set Captain America book is as good a fit as any.

Debuting in January 2011, new ongoing series Captain America: The Fighting Avenger follows in the vein of Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee’s Thor: The Mighty Avenger by providing a continuity-free look at one of Marvel’s most recognizable characters, starting from the beginning. Clevinger is again paired with his World War Hulks: Captain America vs. Wolverine art team — the Japanese duo Gurihiru, best known for their Power Pack work.

Newsarama spoke with Clevinger and series editor Nate Cosby via e-mail to get a little more insight into what Captain America: The Fighting Avenger will be all about, and if all these new Cap projects might have something to do with some movie out next summer called Captain America: The First Avenger.

Newsarama: Brian, other than being WWII-set Cap stories, what more can you tell us about the series? Is there a specific theme or direction?

Brian Clevinger: We're seeing Cap from his earliest days in the war. Y'know, whenever you think of Cap, even his early years, you think of him as this figure out of myth. This legend. We're going to see what he was like before all that. We're going to see what turns him into that legend and the mistakes that happen along the way.

Nrama: In what ways, then, is this Cap different than what we've seen before?

Clevinger: First off, we're starting from scratch. What's the phrase? "Everything you know about X is wrong!" That's not to say we're throwing the Captain out with the bathwater. We're sticking to the core of what makes Cap tick -- there's a reason he's been a staple of this industry for so long, and you don't screw around with it too much. But we'll see him before he was really what you think of when you hear "Captain America". Sure, he's got the super soldier serum, and yeah, he's got a ton of training. But all the potential and training in the world can only do so much. He's got to get out there and become a soldier the hard way. And he's got to figure out how to inspire and lead soldiers who are waiting for this "walking flag" to prove he knows what he's doing! And he's got to figure out how to live up to his own legend as it begins to take form around him.

Nrama: What can you say about the format of the book?

Clevinger: It's ongoing! My first ongoing title with Marvel. My plan is to drive it like I stole it so we'll have had a great time with the title before they realize what a horrible mistake they've made!

Nrama: Nate, what motivated the choice of Gurihuru for the art team on Fighting Avenger?

Nate Cosby: After selling the Clev on doing the Cap series, I asked if he’d be interested in continuing to work with the Gurihiru ladies. He said something along the lines of “Duh.” I can’t WAIT to see what the ladies come up with for this series! There’s something so cool to me about having two Japanese artists tackle Marvel’s greatest America hero. I’m all tingly.

Nrama: So, WWII. Which adversaries and allies can we expect to show up — the Invaders? Howling Commandos? Red Skull?

Clevinger: On the Allies' side you'll see some familiar friends cross paths with Cap but in new ways. On the Axis side you're going to see all kinds of crazy supernatural and sci-fi nightmare regiments of the Third Reich. Remember, the project that made Captain America was meant to produce whole battalions of super soldiers. So, the Nazis spent years developing their own projects to counter that threat before it came to fruition. And now all those weapons are pointed at just one man: Steve Rogers!

Nrama: How much does your experience with Atomic RoboAtomic Robo and the Dogs of War took place in WWII — inform/influence writing a WWII-set Captain America story?

Clevinger: I love history, and the 19th and 20th centuries are full of my favorite events -- whether they're real, weird, alternate, fictional, whatever! Really, Atomic Robo is little more than an excuse for me to play around with the 20th century. This take on Cap is the perfect excuse to focus on World War 2 specifically. It's a theater filled with wild ideas and big comic book adventure.

Nrama: Also, your past work has included a lot of humor — what kind of part does that play in The Fighting Avenger?

Clevinger: It's not going to be a humor book, but there will be humor in it. We so rarely get a chance to see Steve's sense of humor. Even rarer do we get to see jokes at his expense! Let's roll with it.

Nrama: Tell us: how cool is it to get to write Captain America? In WWII, no less?

Clevinger: It's extremely cool. Steve Rogers is a fantastic character. If you don't know anything about him, it's easy to dismiss Cap as a blindly patriotic stooge. But you do him a tremendous disservice by thinking of him like that. He's beyond politics and he's never been afraid to reject authority when it's in the wrong. He's just a force of good. He's America's conscience, really. He's what we would like to be as citizens of our nation and of the world.

Nrama: You're for sure building your Marvel Comics resume, Brian. What character would you like to tackle next?

Clevinger: DOCTOR DOOM. I've got two or three Doom-centric pitches that are straight up gold. Gold, I tells ya!

Nrama: Nate, I'm no sleuth but a lot of Marvel's pre-con announcements this year are Captain America projects. Is this pretty deliberate — looking towards the character's 70th anniversary in 2011 and, oh yeah, next year’s feature film? Have I cracked the code?

Cosby: Cap’s the one with the hammer, right? It’s no secret that when a Marvel movie’s about to come out, you want to put out comic content that’ll drive more readers into the comic shops (or to go to their new-fangled iPad thingies). Same as Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee are doing in Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Brian Clevinger and Gurihiru are going to give new readers a chance to get to know Cap from the very beginning. We’re not following anyone’s continuity, but we’re keeping the spirit of the character and cutting down to the core of who Captain America is. At the same time, veteran comic readers should give this book a try; I promise we’re gonna bring the fun and danger. You’ll see familiar characters, but not quite in the way you expect. I can’t wait to see what Brian and the ladies do with a Captain America that has no idea what he’s doing.


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