NYCC 2010 - Marvel: T&A Presents LIVE!

What started out as Astonishing X-Men in 2004 has become a recurring concept for Marvel Comics, with the word "Astonishing" signifying a continuity-light take on their iconic characters by a top shelf creative team.

Next up is Astonishing Captain America in summer 2010, the same timeframe where the Marvel icon makes his feature film debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. Andy Diggle, architect of the current Shadowland crossover writes the five-issue series; Adi Granov, best known for the "Extremis" arc on Iron Man, illustrates. 

Newsarama discussed the comic, announced Friday afternoon at New York Comic Con, with Diggle, to learn what Captain America means to a couple of Europeans, the threat from the past haunting Steve Rogers, and what it's like for the former The Losers and Thunderbolts writer to write an unambiguous good guy like Cap. 

Newsarama: Andy, you and Adi are both European — what kind of valuable perspective do you think that brings to working on a character literally called Captain "America"? And what qualities about the character make him relevant throughout the world?

Diggle: Captain American is a truly iconic character, and America is very reverential towards its icons. The British comics tradition is maybe a bit more iconoclastic, more ironic and questioning of authority. So we maybe approach these icons with something of an outsider perspective. That said, it's not like we're trying to deconstruct or reinvent the character here. We're being totally respectful to Cap and his history. What qualities make him relevant throughout the world? Well, I guess that depends which part of the world we're talking about! Here he represents the sense of fairness, rugged individualism and self-determination that defines the American Dream. In South America or the Middle East I guess he might represent something quite different.

Nrama: This is also the first time for you two to be working together, and it's a team I think readers will be excited about. It's very early still, but how much are you looking forward to be working with Granov?

Diggle: I'm truly excited to be working with Adi. I think we approach our work from a very similar perspective, in that we want our stories and our characters to be grounded in a believable, plausible world -- but still push the envelope in terms of spectacle and sheer kinetic entertainment. I like the "cinematic" approach to comics storytelling, in terms of telling self-contained stories which are accessible to the guy in the street as well as the dedicated comics fan, and I get the feeling Adi comes from a similar place. It's going to be a lot of fun working together.

Nrama: Between your Vertigo work, and your recent Marvel output like Thunderbolts and Daredevil, you haven't really written much of a pure, morally unambiguous icon like Captain America before. Have you been anticipating writing a character like Cap?

Diggle: I do seem to be drawn the bad guys and the anti-heroes, don't I? I even turned Daredevil into a bad guy! That's one of the many reasons I wanted to write Cap in the first place -- after a couple of years writing evil scum like Norman Osborn and Bullseye, it's like a breath of fresh air to write a straight-ahead good guy action hero. So yeah, don't panic, Cap fans -- I promise not to turn him into a bad guy!

Nrama: "The "Astonishing" line is all about presenting new reader-friendly, iconic versions of characters. How does your Captain America story fit in with the goals of "Astonishing"?

Diggle: I like to travel light when it comes to continuity, and that's probably one of the reasons Marvel approached me for Astonishing in the first place. I'm a great believer in Stan Lee's old adage that every issue is someone's first, and the Astonishing line is designed to be exactly that -- a great place for new readers to jump on board. So while our story fits into continuity, it won't be defined by it. It's an action movie on paper.

Nrama: Timeline-wise, where does this story take place, roughly? It sounds like Steve Rogers isn't full-time Captain America in this series, so I'm guessing post-Captain America Reborn. But I'd also be surprised if he didn't appear in the Cap costume at some point in the series …

Diggle: It’s Steve Rogers wielding the shield. Classic Cap.

Nrama: It's still a good ways off, but what can you tell us about the plot of the series? We know it involves an event from Cap's past, a deadly weapon and an enemy plotting against him. Is the villain of this book someone new, or someone we've seen before?

Diggle: It's an all-new villain that we're creating especially for this story. A character that Cap was allied with back in the closing days of WW2, who suddenly reappears in the 21st century in a most unexpected way. We're approaching it very much as a one-man war story, with some freaky sci-fi elements to throw it off-kilter. Adi's going to have some fun with the Russian sci-fi imagery we're cooking up here.

Nrama: What other recognizable characters might be showing up here? Given Cap's close ties with Iron Man, and Adi's history with illustrating the character, he seems like a possibility, but that's obviously just me speculating.

Diggle: You'll see on or two familiar faces in cameo, but for the most part it's about Cap on a solo mission. We really want to play up the super-soldier aspect. He's an army of one.

Steve Rogers is back at Cap! Here, at least.

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