By Ryan Haupt
Thought Dimension Z took a toll on Steve Rogers? Wait until what comes next.
Writer Rick Remender previewed how CAPTAIN AMERICA will crash into All-New Marvel NOW! with new villains, shifting allegiances and much more!
Marvel.com: You’ve really put Captain America through the ringer in your first 12 issues.
Rick Remender: I figure that I like to beat down the characters and see how they get back up, if they even do. [Laughs]
Marvel.com: It seemed that the whole point of the story was Captain America getting back up.
Rick Remender: Yeah, and you know, it’s just one of those things where the character, Steve Rogers, at his core, that’s what his real power is. It’s that eternal tenacity and strength of character. In terms of that, I wanted to investigate just how low I could take Steve before the cracks started to show. That’s what the Nuke arc is, we start to see the cracks show.
Marvel.com: For people who are just now jumping in because of All-New Marvel NOW!, you put Steve in Dimension Z for a while, but at the same time you pulled a lot from his early childhood, which isn’t something we usually get to see. What gave you the idea to go that deep into the character’s history?
|Captain America by Jim Cheung|
Rick Remender: Well, I had actually written an entire 10-issue story of his history. I’m going to be hitting little bits and pieces of it throughout. I’m taking a break from it for a little bit but we’ll get back into it with the “Mindbubble” arc. It seemed to me that the character’s origin was, in people’s minds, this guy that fought in World War II. But the more I investigated that, the less that was his origin story for me. That’s when he becomes the super soldier. That’s not when he becomes the man who rallies troops or the man whose voice can command gods, as Frank Miller put it in “Born Again.”
It was just assumed that this was Steve Rogers. A man with a big heart who was given super powers and helped us win the war. I wanted to know how that guy grew those giant [expletive]. Beyond that, I wanted to know what drove him. The problem with Steve that I encountered in my research, was that I understood that he was driven, I understood what he was, but I didn’t understand the core component that pushed him down that road. That always comes back to family, I think. It always comes back to where you come from. I wanted to explore the idea that Captain America is the son of immigrants because there’s nothing more American than that and it’s an aspect of his personality that isn’t explored all that often. And I wanted to show what he went through as a youth, to really find his core and his philosophy and his distaste for bullies and tyranny. I think that comes a lot from the neighborhood he grew up in and the struggles he dealt with there, and his father and various other forces we’ve shown in those little snippets. Mostly, what we’ve shown in issue #11, where he gets this all is his mother. His mother is the person who instilled all of this in him and the person that he still, in the deepest recesses of his mind, is trying to emulate and impress. Once I got to that point, I realized that’s Steve Rogers. That’s him. That’s an aspect of him that I haven’t seen explored and it’s the heart of the character. It’s one that I wanted to unearth and dig into. As well as using it to show how this guy can keep standing up in the worst possible situations. So I made sure that he was in the worst possible situations.
And that’s the fun. Once you can establish why he can keep standing up, you let him. I wanted to keep repeating that note. And beyond just driving it home and keeping it subtle, I wanted to hammer it in a way that really puts a spotlight on that being the core of who this guy is.
Marvel.com: Getting back to him developing a distaste for bullies and tyranny, that immediately made me think of Nuke. He seems like, on the surface, the ultimate tyrant bully.
Rick Remender: Well, it’s a confusing situation with Nuke. He’s also someone who was a patriot who just wanted to serve his country. He’s also somebody who had good intentions at one point and was twisted and misused, brainwashed and mind screwed, and drugged up to the point where he was fried. And that obviously leads to some grey areas in terms of Nuke’s good or evil. When we see what Nuke’s up to, we can see that he’s a misguided and sick individual and is being given more bad orders from some mysterious force behind the curtain. So Steve is put into a quandary where he’s looking at a mirror image of what he could have been in a different era, I think. If the only way to stop Nuke is to kill him that puts Steve in a very difficult position and especially forces him to analyze how easily any of us could have our ideologies and motivations twisted and used to evil while we think that we’re actually doing something good.
Marvel.com: So does Steve see Nuke as a brother, a comrade-in-arms? Somebody like him?
|Jet Black by Nic Klein|
Rick Remender: He does. He’s dealt with Nuke before so Nuke is not a new thing for him. But what Nuke is, is somebody who, at his core, thinks he’s doing the right thing. He thinks he’s doing it for America. He thinks he’s doing it for the boys. He thinks he’s doing it for the honor of his country. And of course, he’s being fed bad information and he’s crazy. He’s absolutely crazy. He’s been taking the reds so long; these are amphetamines mixed with super-soldier properties to give him super-strength and so he’s just out of his head. But Steve has to look at the man underneath all of that. And that’s the big question here, is how is he going to react to him and deal with him. Because in some ways, in Nuke, [he sees] a product of the super-soldier program who he perceives to have been too weak to overcome what was done to him. But then the question is, could Steve have turned out differently? And that’s something that Steve is going to have to come to terms with because it’s not so cut and dry. And especially given the sorts of cracks in his armor and the different methodology that he’s started to consider, given his exposure to Jet Black, and some of his other circumstances, it’s going to cause him a lot of confusion. And he’s going to be questioning a lot about himself and what he does.
Marvel.com: And about Jet Black; are we going to get to see her dealing with this world on her own while Cap is off dealing with Nuke?
Rick Remender: Yeah. We spend issue #16.NOW dealing with a lot of her perspective and what she’s dealing with. She is somebody who was raised since birth to see Earth as her birthright. Earth was this thing that she was going to rule over. So now she’s here but she’s far from ruling over it. She’s trying to find her way to have a purpose in it, but there’s no way home. Her father, of course, had made preparations on this side of things, on Earth, for her eventual arrival, with his old pal the Red Skull. This version of the Red Skull was a digital consciousness that was frozen towards the end of World War II and brought back to life in a cloned body. We saw that in the beginning of UNCANNY AVENGERS. He and his S-Men have big plans for the world, so Jet Black’s arrival is something the Red Skull takes a keen interest in. And because of his debt and his loyalty to his old friend Armin Zola, he approaches Jet with an offer. The results of that offer will have repercussions going on into the next year of the series. That’s issue #16.NOW and that will be a very Jet centric issue where we get to touch base again with the Red Skull and his S-Men and their evil schemes that are bubbling in the background of my books. That leads us into #17 which is the emergence and the beginning of the Dr. Mindbubble storyline.
Marvel.com: Who is Dr. Mindbubble?
Rick Remender: Dr. Mindbubble is a scientist who was actually involved in working on Nuke and was one of the people who spearheaded the Weapon Minus program, which after he realized that Nuke was crazy and too far out of his gourd to be trusted, he went to his supervisors and they discussed making a program to counteract super soldiers. When a super soldier goes rogue or any product of the Weapon Plus goes rogue and out of control, they needed a counter measure to it that was its own program. S.H.I.E.L.D. started the Weapon Minus program. Dr. Mindbubble devised himself a formula that mixed super soldier serum with LSD and a number of other components. He was sort of a beatnik and a hippy who was very much a Timothy Leary style figure with his own twist on it that obviously makes him a little darker. He devised this and then one night tested it on himself, as mad scientists are wont to do.
And so the end result is he becomes one of the most powerful human beings on the planet and I don’t want to go into his powers too much, I want to reveal that in the story. S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury, everyone at the time, had to go to great lengths to capture him and to put him on ice and to lock down the Weapon Minus program. And they did that. Part of the story that we’re telling right now is how Dr. Mindbubble is released, by whom he is released, and how it fits into the bigger picture with how it affects Captain America’s life. It promises to be an earth-shattering and giant change with what we’ve got coming up here; if Nuke is stage one, Dr. Mindbubble is stage two, and the Iron Nail will then be stage three.
Marvel.com: We had John Romita Jr. on the book for a while and now we’ve switched to Carlos Pacheco and Nic Klein, who have really different styles. I think Carlos matches some of the bombastic action of Romita Jr. whereas Nic is bringing a lot of texture, depth, and richness to the page. How have those collaborations been given the density of the script that you like to turn in?
|Captain America by Nic Klein|
Rick Remender: What we have is Carlos Pacheco doing the Nuke arc but Nic Klein is doing one issue in the middle there, issue #13. So we’ll get a taste of what Nic can do, which is wonderful. Carlos and Nic have both delivered A-level performances. I know every writer says that about their artists but I’m a pretty finicky lady when it comes to the art and those guys are as good as it gets. The storytelling is fluid, the action is dynamic, the acting is all there in the faces and the body gestures, so it really allows me to pull back on the dialogue and I don’t have to tell you so much with words because the images tell you as much of the story. I always think that the way you can distinguish a good comic from a bad one is if you took the text off the pages, could you still tell yourself the majority of the story? And you can with these guys. I think that the book, artistically, is in really great hands, especially with Dean White coloring everything. The teams have just been delivering absolutely stunning work. So you’ve got Carlos Pacheco doing Nuke with a little help from Nic, and then in issue #16.NOW, Pascal Alixe comes in to do the Jet Black issue. The stuff he’s been turning in has been just stunning. After Pascal Alixe, Nic comes back to do the entirety of the Dr. Mindbubble arc which goes from #17 to #22. It’s great. Nic and I are buddies so working with him is a treat. I talk with him on Skype and Carlos and I have become friends while working. I just couldn’t respect his work more. I think he’s been delivering some of the best work of his career.
Marvel.com: It sounds like people reading CAPTAIN AMERICA have a lot to look forward to.
Rick Remender: I think so. We’re doing our best to do a story with a lot of heart, a lot of character, as opposed to just big pyrotechnics and giant [expletive] blowing up. If that’s the kind of book you like then CAPTAIN AMERICA is the book for you.
Marvel.com: There was some pyrotechnics on the rooftop of his apartment in Brooklyn, though.
Rick Remender: That’s true. He did hold a cleansing ceremony, didn’t he?
Marvel.com: Which the Falcon did not seem happy about.
Rick Remender: Yeah. Sam’s going to be playing a real big role in Steve’s life again. And he’s going to be the person that Steve turns to [for help dealing] with all of the craziness that’s been going on. He’s the one that Steve trusts the most. It’s going to put Sam in some precarious situations coming up.
Marvel.com: Is there anything else that people reading this might want to know as we head into All-New Marvel NOW!?
Rick Remender: This is the beginning, if you’re waiting to get on board you’re going to be buying these in back issue because we’re doing some wonderful crazy [expletive] coming up. It’s all based on character and I think that’s something we need more of in comics. We’re going to be unearthing more and more things about who Steve Rogers is and why you should care about his plight and what he stands for and then we’re going to shatter him on the craggy cliffs below.
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