Ed Brubaker knows how hard it can be to give readers what they want in regards to Marvel Comics' star-spangled Avenger.
"You know, originally Steve Rogers was only going to be dead for six months," recalled the writer. "And then the Cap book kept growing and growing, and all the people who were mad that we killed him are now kind of mad that we brought him back, because they're worried that we'll take Captain America from Bucky. That's not happening."
What is happening, as revealed last night at the Diamond Retailer Summit ahead of the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) that this July, Marvel will release "Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier" - a four-issue miniseries by Brubaker and artist Dale Eaglesham which promises to take the original Captain America off into his own cloak and dagger adventures while Bucky Barnes continues as Cap."I did miss the character. He and Bucky are among my top three or four Marvel characters that are fun to write. I felt Steve's voice had really been missing, and there's a lot more to do with the guy."
The origins of this new series came from that need to find more of a place for Steve Rogers than as a supporting character in "Captain America" and even though it's also been revealed that the hero (who will sport a new costume designed by Marko Djurdjevic) will star in "Secret Avengers," Brubaker explained that a solo series made sense. "Part of why it came up is just because Steve is back. While he is starring in 'Secret Avengers,' that's a team book, and he's not on every single page. He hasn't been around in a few years, and he was only in 'Reborn' in a really strange way, so part of it was 'Let's spend some time with this guy.'
"Now that he's back, and Bucky's running around as Cap, he's in various Avengers books here and there, and he's the star of 'Secret Avengers,' but really, it's a different role than when he's off on his own. It can bring him into this big, international, high explosive secret story that's going on. It fits in thematically with everything going on in 'Secret Avengers' and 'Cap,' but it's really following up on 'Reborn' to a large degree, too. It answers the question of 'Where's Steve's head at?'"
The subtle, secret story Rogers embarks upon hold ties to his earliest days as the shield-slinging superhero who helped ignite the Marvel Universe. "In the first issue, he sees somebody who he watched die in World War II, and he can't believe they're actually alive, and that draws him into this paranoid conspiracy theory story," the writer said. "There's this giant international incident that happens that causes him to reflect on his own history and everything he's been through. While he's trying to stop these foreign powers and international corporations - and I don't want to ruin the story - it all gets tied into his past and how he is America's first super-soldier and how he was created."
Adding Eaglesham to the mix helped bring some slick action to the espionage-themed setting, according to Brubaker, who said he's been watching the artist's career for years. "Like all those guys who went off to CrossGen, I don't know what was in the water there, but all the writers I talked to who were there were miserable, and then [Steve] Epting and Butch [Guice] and Mike Perkins and Dale and all these guys - something about the way they worked there meant that they ended up coming out of there so much better. Maybe Butch is just as good coming out as he was going in, but Epting changed the entire way he thought about drawing comics while he was there. You can see that in everything he draws.
"Dale was the same way. I was working at DC when he went over to CrossGen, and everybody liked his stuff. He was doing 'Gotham Knights' for a little while, but when he came back from CrossGen and was doing 'JSA' with Geoff Johns, you could tell he'd taken huge leaps. So when Tom [Brevoort] called me up and we were talking about who would draw this thing, he said, 'How do you feel about Dale?' And I was just like, 'I'm a big fan...does he want to draw this thing?'"
Eaglesham, of course, did, and the working relationship between the two creators finds them on the same page about the strengths of Steve Rogers. "I asked him early on, 'If there's anything you want to draw or don't want to draw?' A lot of artists I work with really want to draw World War II stuff, but I've worked with a few who were like, "Please, don't make me draw World War II.' But Dale was a guys who was all about that, and it's good because one of the coolest things about Steve is that he's the man out of time. He lived through WW2, and anytime you've got a chance to do cool 'Cap in WW2' stuff in your comic, you should take it. That way we get a chance to show him as Captain America in this book when he's not Cap in the present day."
"Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier" hits in July from Marvel. For more from C2E2, stay locked to CBR all weekend long!