Before the Sam Wilson era begins this fall in ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA, follow his personal journey with this October’s six-part ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA: FEAR HIM INFINITE COMIC.
To tell this pivotal tale, Marvel tapped writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Szymon Kudranski to detail the hero coming to grips with what kind of Captain America he wants to be. We checked in with Hopeless to understand what it takes to assume the imposing mantle of an icon—battling The Scarecrow—and how much the writer relishes crafting the story!
Marvel.com: I imagine many Marvel creators are eager to write Sam Wilson as Captain America, but you have landed the Infinite Comic assignment that enables you to get a story in people’s hands before even Rick Remender’s new title hits the stands. How exciting an opportunity is this for you?
Dennis Hopeless: Sam is such a great character and it’s an honor getting to write his Captain America straight out of the gate. On top of that, this project is quite a bit different from anything I’ve done at Marvel. I hope people dig the story because we’re having a hell of a good time making it.
Rick Remender and I actually broke the basic FEAR HIM plot together. I’m half-convinced Rick is some sort of mandroid robot idea factory. He’ll throw out 40 crazy notions in the first 10 minutes on the phone and then spend the next 20 carving them up into three or four different plots. It’s quite a thing to be a part of and I’m really happy with what we cooked up. It should serve as a nice lead-in to ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA.
Marvel.com: ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA: FEAR HIM aims to fill the narrative gap between CAPTAIN AMERICA #25 and ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA #1, do you intend to explore the new Cap perfecting his ability to throw his shield while in flight—both skills are hard enough by themselves, combined clearly requires super heroic reflexes—and other new skills?
Dennis Hopeless: If you’d asked me that before so much of it was already written, the answer would probably have been yes. That’s a really good idea. Maybe Rick will tackle Sam’s shield prowess learning-curve in the main series.
In FEAR HIM we’ll mostly be dealing with the psychological implications of taking up the shield. Sam has to figure out what kind of Captain America he wants to be and what parts of his own personality he can bring to the role. And, lucky for Sam, he gets to do all of it with the-man-the-myth-the-legend staring over his shoulder and barking at him through an earpiece. Steve can’t physically do the job anymore but his mind’s still plenty sharp. There’s a lot of trust between the two men but Steve certainly won’t be shy about giving advice.
Marvel.com: Please share what you think are some of the core characteristics of Sam Wilson that make him the ideal candidate to assume the Captain America mantle?
Dennis Hopeless: More than anything, Sam just wants to help people. He’s much more interested in cleaning up his neighborhood and keeping the streets safe than he is in cracking skulls and punishing the guilty. Sam also understands what Captain America means to people. It’s about hope and courage and standing up for what’s right. When you carry that shield, you’re not just a super hero or a soldier, you’re an icon. Sam understands just how big Steve's shoes are but he’ll be doing his damnedest to fill them.
Marvel.com: Without spoiling the story, what kind of forces and obstacles will Cap encounter in ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA: FEAR HIM?
Dennis Hopeless: Oh, Sam faces all sorts of terrors down in the dark, including a murder of fear-crazed crows, dozens of belligerent street urchins, a 30-foot bird-headed knight and his stone-skinned sewer dragon. From time to time we even pit him against the story's actual super villain antagonist: The Scarecrow.
Marvel.com: Unless I am mistaken, this marks your first time working with artist Szymon Kudranski, what is the key to establishing a strong rapport with a fellow creator when working on critical linchpin story such as this?
Dennis Hopeless: I think the most important is being open to anything and everything your co-conspirators want to bring to the story. Creators all have different strengths and it would be silly not to take advantage of those. Szymon brings a dark, gritty realism to his art that’s perfect for this story and I’ve been trying my best to give him all sort of creepy weirdness to draw along the way.
It also helps that Szymon and our layout artists Geoffo and Mast are three of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. And, you know, [editor] Tom Brevoort’s okay too. With a team like this, making comics is pretty painless.
Marvel.com: Writing for the Infinite Comic platform enables you to explore visual dynamics not available in your traditional Marvel print stories, how do you intend to take advantage of the medium?
Dennis Hopeless: It’s a completely different process than I’m used to. Ordinarily I write a full script with panel-detailed breakdowns and dialogue. Often times after the script gets approved, I won’t really touch the story again until the final lettering proof shows up for proofreading right before it going to press. I do my part then the other creators do theirs.
With this Infinite Comic, the process is much more collaborative from start to finish.
I start us off by writing action-centric plot breakdowns for each of the chapters; sort of a combination between a Hollywood beat sheet and an old school Marvel-Style script. Then our fantastic storyboard artists Geoffo & Mast take those plots and draw up 60-frame animatics that allow us to see both basic page layouts and how all the digital click-throughs will work. From there, Szymon draws the finished pages based on those layouts while I write the final dialogue over the top.
I’m having an absolute blast with all the back and forth. We each have several opportunities to tweak things along the way based on what the others have done. It’s great.
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