The mind is willing, but Steve Rogers can no longer carry his shield into battle.
After a dire encounter with the Iron Nail, Rogers finally shows the brunt of his 90 years on Earth. The time has come for the old man to find a new outlet for his patriotic sense of duty, and to counsel the next Captain America.
This fall sees the rise of a new Captain America, just as the Red Skull marches to AXIS. It all starts in CAPTAIN AMERICA #25.
“This is the final bit of story that we started off in CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 with the opening of Dimension Z,” writer Rick Remender explains. “Beyond that we’ve also got a nice tie-in to AXIS. Zola and Red Skull have been in cahoots, Red Skull having been a consciousness saved by Zola and then given a new body. Now we’ve reached the payout. The issue itself is just bombastic action. It’s Steve Rogers doing his very best to deal with a huge escalation in Zola’s war against the Avengers and mankind. There are a number of guest stars in it. We’ve got Iron Man and Hulk and Thor doing what they can to stave off Zola and his invading armies.
“We’ve also got the return of a few surprise characters we haven’t seen in a while. We’ve got a betrayal of a cast member and we’ve got the reveal of the new Captain America.”
But where does that leave Steve Rogers?
“Steve is in a spot where he’s still determined to serve, and he’s still determined to have a positive influence on the world around him,” Remender says. “He wants to work to defend his nation and his world, but he’s left in a physical state of not being able to perform. The choices he has before him as to who he’s going to select as his replacement seem very simple at this point—it’s a short list—but we’re revealing a number of characters in #23 who’ve been gone for a while, that decision gets a little trickier. Steve hasn’t had a lot of time to concern himself with these things. Literally a day after the Iron Nail debacle when he lost the Super Soldier Serum and rapidly aged to the physical age he would have been had he never been frozen, he’s forced to make some hard decisions.
“He’s a man in his 90s now without the frame or physical strength, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of the fight. He’s basically orchestrating things and playing tactician, fighting against Zola, using his friends in the Avengers to try and do so. He’s waging a war from a room rather than the front lines, which is new for Steve. There might be some shuffle boarding in his future. I do like the idea of giving Steve a bit of a break once the new Cap steps up and takes the mantle for a while. Steve’s going to continue to play a role in the series as mentor and tactician and eye in the sky, running ops and things. He’s got all of his faculties and is still the super soldier he earned the right to be called; he just lacks the physical form.”
Though numerous others—from William Naslund and William Burnside to John Walker and James “Bucky” Barnes—have wielded the shield and answered that same call, Steve Rogers remains the most popular individual to assume the role of Captain America. His name remains synonymous with the cause. Will he be so willing to relinquish that mantel?
“I think that Steve himself realizes that there’s always going to be a Captain America,” Remender contends. “It’s an honor and a privilege to serve in that role, but no one man is Captain America. There were a lot of reasons I wanted to do what I’ve done here. I pitched it. I proposed it. I put it all together. There wasn’t any sort of a mandate to do it.
“There are a number of changes that happen with the new Captain America that allow me to write and tell stories from a perspective that’s quite different from a WWII soldier and a child of the Great Depression. That ‘Man Out of Time’ aspect of Cap is such a great part of his character, but who this new Captain America is in contrast allows for stories where the modern world is a bit more connected to the lead. It’s a completely different perspective. It’s quite possible that the new Captain America isn’t one to be a soldier. Then you start getting into some questions. Somebody who wants to serve their country and is still highly motivated to do so, but isn’t a soldier, isn’t someone with experience taking orders or navigating that world. It offers up a lot of new opportunities and a lot of new drama as well as getting to tell Captain America stories with an entirely different character, a character I have a real affinity for and like to write. I think the fans will dig what we’ve got coming up.”
The unveiling of a new Cap will unfold in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA! Stay tuned for the revelation of their identity in the coming weeks!