Being a member of Marvel Comics' Avengers means you get to rub shoulders with some of the giants of the Marvel Universe. Of course, being teammates with someone as powerful as Thor or as smart as Tony Stark can be pretty intimidating, but perhaps the most daunting Avenger to work alongside is Captain America. The Living Legend of World War II is one of the most inspirational figures of the Marvel Universe; when he's counting on you you'll move heaven and Earth to make sure you don't let him down.
That makes Captain America a very interesting character to bounce up against and off other characters. Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Alessandro Vitti began doing this in April when the ongoing "Captain America & Bucky" series morphed into "Captain America & Hawkeye" with issue #629. When issue #633 hits stores on June 27th the title of the series will morph again into "Captain America & Iron Man" as Bunn and artists Barry Kitson and Jay Leisten kick off the second arc of the series, which teams Steve Rogers with his Avengers teammate, Tony Stark.
CBR News: Cullen in terms of plot there are two things going on in your initial "Captain America &…" tale, which stars Cap and Hawkeye and comes to a close on June 13th with issue #632. Let's kick things off by talking about the immediate one which involves a pretty obscure Marvel race, the Saurians, and a semi-obscure race that was recently brought back to prominence, the Dire Wraiths. This suggests to us that you're a pretty old school Marvel fan and that this book will allow you to reintroduce and polish up some classic and forgotten characters, concepts, and ideas. Is that correct? Is that something you're interested in doing in this series?
Cullen Bunn: My Marvel roots run deep, and I love the idea of weaving some of the more obscure characters and concepts into these stories. There's always the possibility that I'm going to try to weave some long-forgotten (by everyone but me) concept into a story, but I don't think that's gonna be a driving force for the series.
This story was one that just sort of fell into place for me. I've always liked the Dire Wraiths, and I wanted to do something a little different with them. I wanted to use their history and mythology but I didn't want to use the creatures directly. The tragic war between the Saurians and the Wraiths gave me the opportunity to create something new from pieces left over from the good old days. So, these
Saurian-Wraith hybrids were born. Stegron, of course, was the final old school piece of the puzzle, as it was his ability to bring long dead reptilians back to life. Saurians, Dire Wraiths, and Stegron -- the trifecta!
I was actually really surprised by how many people have reached out to me about Stegron. I always liked the guy and apparently I'm not alone!
The other plot element seems to involve a new character that you created for this story named Kashmir Vennema, the head of the Damocles Research Facility. Based on the hints you've dropped so far Kashmir has some masters we haven't met yet. Can you hint at Kashmir's ultimate agenda is? Is the mystery behind her something that will unfold over the course of several arcs in this book? Or will we be given answers about Kash soon?
Kash definitely has a role to play in the series. After her introduction in the Cap & Hawkeye arc, she becomes even more important in the second and third arc. Her story is going to get much, much bigger. As for her agenda, I can't say much. She works for a very powerful, far-reaching organization that has not been seen in the Marvel Universe before. She runs a number of different operations for the group, and you can't be sure what she's going to be up to next. By the end of the third arc, we'll have revealed at least the basics of what Kash has been up to, but there will be quite a bit of potential for future stories.
As you mentioned, Kash plays a prominent role in your your next story arc which begins with issue #633 and finds the title of the series morphing into "Captain America & Iron Man." What's your sense of the current dynamic between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark? What do you find most interesting about their relationship?
Tony and Steve are friends. They don't always get along. They don't always agree. But they have a great respect for one another. They have vastly different approaches to the job of being a superhero, and we explore that right from the beginning. At different times in the arc, both Cap and Iron Man are blasted right out of their comfort zones, but they know they can rely on each other when the chips are down.
The story you're telling with Cap & Tony takes place in Madripoor, a country that underwent some changes when Wolverine's son Daken took control of the criminal underworld. With that in mind, what's the climate of the country when your story begins? Are things stable? Do Daken and his associates
factor into the story at all?
Cap and Iron Man head to Madripoor to attend a high tech arms and ammunition expo. It's an event attended by business people, government officials, international terrorists, and dictators. Madripoor seemed like the perfect locale for such an event. The city itself is stable -- at least at the beginning of the story -- but that's subject to change.
This is a pretty fast-paced arc, and I've packed a lot into three issues. At the end of the day, there just wasn't enough room for Daken and his associates, although my guess is they're probably lurking around the expo somewhere.
In terms of plot and themes what is the "Captain America & Iron Man" arc about? The solicits and images suggest an emphasis on science fiction, high technology, and espionage. Is that accurate?
The story goes through a number of stages. We start off with a spy-fi story, but it rolls into a high-tech actioner and technological disaster yarn. It's a fast-paced story. This is meant to be a fun, high-octane romp.
The other thing the solicitation revealed is that Cap and Iron Man are facing off against Batroc and his Brigade in this story. What made you want to include Batroc and his team in this tale? It looks like while classic Brigade member Zaran is still around, this is a whole new incarnation of the Brigade, correct? Is that Rapido and a new female version of Machete on the cover to #634? How formidable is this new incarnation of Batroc's Brigade?
I guess this goes back to your first question. Batroc's Brigade has always been a villain team I really liked, and this just felt like a perfect opportunity to showcase them against Captain America and Iron Man in a major way. Batroc and Zaran are the mainstays in the group, but we've got a new (and extremely psychotic) version of Machete in the group. Rapido has joined up as well to give the team a little more firepower.
This version of the team will definitely be a challenge for our heroes, which is no easy feat. Captain America is no slouch, of course, but when you add Iron Man to the mix it really ups the challenge factor. But this isn't going to be an easy fight for Steve and Tony. In particular, Iron Man is going to have a really rough time on this adventure. Of course, he handles it with style.
Are Batroc and his Brigade the sole antagonists in "Captain America & Iron Man?" or are there villains behind them? And if so what kind of role do they play in this story?
Batroc and company are definitely the most aggressive villains in the story. They go toe-to-toe with Cap and Iron Man in a big way in all three issues. But they aren't the only bad guys we'll see. There might very well be a M.O.D.O.K. sighting.
Are there any other important supporting players in this tale? Will we see some Madripoor regulars like Tyger Tiger?
With Cap, Iron Man, Batroc's Brigade, M.O.D.O.K., and a bunch of robot nasties running around, I didn't have a lot of room for many of the Madripoor mainstays. Kash will be our most important supporting player in the arc, though. She has a knack, as you'll see, for setting big things into motion.
Artists Barry Kitson and Jay Leisten are bringing all these characters and action to life in "Captain America & Iron Man." What do they bring to this particular story?
What can I say? They are simply awesome. They get to do some really, really fun stuff with Iron Man in the second issue of the arc. Are we seeing the rise of a new Iron Man armor design? Yeah, we just might be.
Finally, we know Cap will be spending quite a bit of his summer in Madripoor with Iron Man, but can you tease where you'll be sending him after this tale and who he'll be working with?
After the Cap and Iron Man story wraps, we'll take a jaunt into the past to see some Invaders-era Cap and Namor action in issue #635.1. They're tussling with Thule scientists and undead Atlanteans. They're also encountering a very powerful new group of movers and shakers.
After that? We've got a five issue arc that will take Cap and his partner to places they've never been. As for the partner, I can't say much, but I think readers will get a kick out of the adventure she and Cap embark upon.
The beauty of a book like this is that I have the opportunity to explore so many different genres and styles of stories. There are endless possibilities here. Hmm... that almost sounds like a hint regarding that
mysterious third arc.
"Captain America & Iron Man" #633 is on sale June 27.