In recent issues of CAPTAIN AMERICA and UNCANNY AVENGERS, writer Rick Remender has really stirred the pot to kick off the All-New Marvel NOW! era. But it won’t stop there, as the mysterious Dr. Mindbubble’s designs keep on bubblin’ in March 5’s CAPTAIN AMERICA #18 while the “Ragnarok NOW!” storyline concludes in this week’s UNCANNY AVENGERS #17.
We got the inside track on what awaits Cap and the Unity Squad from the man shaping their destinies.
CAPTAINAMERICA #16.NOW. Can readers assume she’s who she says she is, and the she’s really renounced her father, Arnim Zola?
Rick Remender: That’s the question and the fun and the mystery. This is the daughter of Arnim Zola, who was born in Dimension Z and was raised to be the warrior queen of Earth. But now she’s just a forgotten nobody who’s got no connection to anything here other than Steve Rogers. It was sort of his example that inspired her to make the right decision but the right decision hasn’t exactly paid out the huge dividends for her. She’s in a rough spot and in comes the Red Skull letting her know big things are happening and “you better pick a side, your father intended you to be on this one.” She has to make a choice if she is still committed to her [decision] to follow in Steve’s footsteps or her father’s.
This is the crux of a lot of what’s going on with that character. There are three stages of what’s coming up and one is bigger than the next, is bigger than the next. This is all the glorious pay out of many years of planning and Jet’s role in that will obviously be one that people will want to keep an eye on.
Marvel.com: Let’s talk a little bit about Dr. Mindbubble; is he a character that has been in you for a while now?
Rick Remender: Yeah, I’ve been drawing this character for 10 years in my sketchbooks. It just seemed like I had a number of ideas of where he would fit and I wanted him to be a part of something to do with the Weapon Plus program. He fit very perfectly into the idea of a Weapon Minus program, which is the counter-program to the program that built Nuke, Wolverine, Captain America, Fantomex, and characters like that. It was something where once I got into Cap and I was developing and I was digging through my ideas about bringing Dr. Mindbubble in as the psychedelic super-soldier and mixing the super-soldier serum with LSD seemed pretty fun to me.
Marvel.com: How would you describe Steve’s state going forward into the next few issues? Is attacking him in this non-physical way one of the best ways to get to him and maybe finally defeat him?
Rick Remender: It’s definitely a huge component. When you saw the lengths to which Ran Shen went in order to get Nuke into that S.H.I.E.L.D. hub-station so that he could detonate Nuke and then free Dr. Mindbubble, that’s because he knows that Dr. Mindbubble will be instrumental in dealing with Captain America. It’s not just a physical battle. This is a guy who is in an emotionally tumultuous state. Even though Ran Shen doesn’t know the details of that, his spies have picked up morsels.
In Steve, you have somebody who lost Sharon Carter, he thinks he’s lost Ian Rogers, his son, the boy he raised for 12 years in Dimension Z, and he came back [after years] to a world where only 30 minutes had passed. So he’s forced to not only deal with the fact that the time he spent in Dimension Z doesn’t register to anyone else around him and very few people can know about it given the very sensitive nature of what had happened, but also that he’s in a situation where he’s in mourning. He’s shattered. He was forced to go into the field to deal with Nuke to almost disastrous results. If Sam [Wilson, the Falcon] hadn’t been there to stop him, it’s quite possible that Steve would have lost his mind and perhaps even taken Nuke’s life. He’s unhinged. He’s a strong man who’s been through too much.
Rick Remender: Sam is more grounded. Steve’s been forced, during his adventures with the Avengers, to become sort of a cosmic field marshal and general. He’s spent time in Dimension Z and Steve’s life has been insane when you take a snapshot of what he’s been through as a character in these past few years in the Marvel Universe. To me, Sam hasn’t really been through that. Sam has been adventuring and serving in the Avengers and doing what he can do hold the fabric of reality together and keep everybody happy and safe, but [he] is still a more grounded person, and that’s something I really wanted to focus on in the Nuke situation. Sam still hasn’t made the compromises that we’ve seen a lot of other characters make in terms of his belief in freedom of the press, when he returns the camera to the photographer who took the snapshots, knowing full well that it’s possible that would backfire. His ideology is so important to him, this guy who was a very community minded civil servant.
Sam, to me, is like an untainted version of the dream. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t been through the same amount of tests, maybe it’s because he’s younger and from a different generation, a different background, but Sam is still the steady backbone that Steve is going to need to prop him up because things are about to get real bad.
Marvel.com: What about the relationship between Falcon and Jet Black? What can you say about that over the next few issues?
Rick Remender: It’s complicated. It’s tumultuous and they both have different ideas about what’s best for Steve in this particular stage in his life and where he’s at. I think Jet is starting to see that her father’s pragmatic appraisal of life and how to deal with threats has its upshots and Sam, of course, doesn’t. He holds on to the ideology and his beliefs in the American way, and truth, justice, and liberty. So you’ve got this devil and this angel whispering in Steve’s ears and that’s going to force Steve to make some decisions on who he’s going to trust and who he’s gonna listen to. It’s also going to lead to some very interesting complications between Jet and Falcon.
Marvel.com: Can you say a few words about Nic Klein’s art on the next few issues?
Marvel.com: Over in UNCANNY AVENGERS, how does it feel for you to be coming to the end of the sprawling “Ragnarok NOW!” storyline?
Rick Remender: Well, it’s really coming to the end of the second act because the following story is still the third act. It’s not done. Maybe I’ll never be done. This is sort of a continuation of the Dark Angel Saga from [UNCANNY X-FORCE]. As I write, I tend to see towards the end of story-arcs, wonderful opportunities for new story-arcs that could build out of these things. That’s sort of what I’ve been doing here. These plans are going back years now that we’re finally getting to the conclusion of and people are gonna be pretty surprised by #17. I’m already predicting [what] a lot of what the Internet is going to be saying and what people are going to be feeling. I don’t think any of them are prepared for the actual repercussions of what I’m doing here and the actual payout it’s going to have leading into bigger things in the Marvel Universe proper.
I think what we’re looking at with UNCANNY AVENGERS #17 is a really nice climax to what we’ve been doing here from the beginning. It’s an examination of what we’ve been seeing in the Marvel Universe. The heroes are not acting heroic lately. They’re squabbling; they’re fighting with each other. There is no unity and there is a consequence. There is a consequence when we don’t work together. There is a consequence when we all sit back and squabble and fall into pestilence. This is that consequence and what they’re going to have to do to moving forward and how the team is going to potentially mend their new situation, I think is going to be a lot of fun for people.
Marvel.com: Do you feel that a reader would be able to come in on UNCANNY AVENGERS #18.NOW and pick things up easily enough?
Rick Remender: Issue #18.NOW, while it still is the third act of this over-arcing story, it’s still a fresh start and I did know it would have an “All-New #1” on the cover and that this would need to be something that would be a jumping on point. Which is great because I used the issue to re-examine some of our lead characters and get into their heads and establish who they are, what their fears are, what they want.
SECRET WARS #4. Crazy. What a weird place to start comics. But, being dropped into the middle of an event with a bunch of characters that I sort of knew from TV or cartoons and in being just dropped into basically the end of the first act of a big story, to me, was so captivating. I wanted to know more and I was so excited to find out who these guys were and that they had their own comics and it led me to go hunt back issues because I was curious about the mystery. “Who’s this gentleman who’s in the Iron Man suit? They all seem to be surprised he’s not this Tony Stark character? What does that mean?” and so I went back and bought back issues of IRON MAN, all the way back to the “Demon in the Bottle” stuff.
So for me, I always go to, you want to make things easy for new readers but if you’re telling a great story, and if you’re telling something you feel you have something to say with and you have some emotional charge behind and you’re getting excited and working with a great artist like I am with Daniel Acuna here, somebody who I’ve got a great rapport with somebody I’m really gelling with, I think you can be dropped into something that seems pretty crazy.
As long as the characters are captivating and the story is clean and the action is fun, it’ll only ignite more questions and hopefully some people go back to UNCANNY AVENGERS #1 and reread and catch up. You don’t have to. There’s plenty of catch-up in the book and we’ll make sure that your hand is held but ideally I try to make books that you can go back and read in 10 years and get a complete story. You wouldn’t have to have known what events it was crossing over into and you can just get a complete story just by reading that comic book.