In October 2010, Marvel Comics announced a four-issue miniseries from Andy Diggle and Adi Granov titled "Astonishing Captain America," with "The Losers" writer and "Iron Man: Extremis" artist teaming for a timeless solo Cap story planned for release before the character's first Marvel Studios feature film, "Captain America: The First Avenger."
Of course, things don't always go according to plan, and the series disappeared from Marvel's publishing schedule, with Diggle stating in subsequent interviews that the delay was due to Granov's schedule filling up with gigs like providing concept art on Marvel's "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3" films.
Three years after the initial announcement, the story has surfaced, albeit with a different title and a different artist for the final three-quarters of the series. Now titled "Captain America: Living Legend," Diggle remains as writer, but Granov only illustrated issue #1, on sale now. Agustin Alessio, whose work was recently seen on "Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison" for Dark Horse Comics and Marvel's "Infinity: Against the Tide" Infinite Comic, joins the series with #2, on sale October 30.
CBR News talked to Diggle about seeing the long-delayed series finally reach readers, why he went with a truly solo Captain America adventure, the story's sci-fi bent and working with both Granov and Alessio. Even though Diggle's current workload includes the ongoing "Uncanny" at Dynamite and wrapping up a "Thief of Thieves" arc at Image Comics, the writer teased that new projects are coming soon -- like, as soon as next week's New York Comic Con.
CBR News: Andy, we first talked about this series back in October 2010, and three years later, it's nearly out. How pleased are you to see the book finally heading to stores? Were you ever concerned it might be shelved completely?
Andy Diggle: I'd kind of made my peace with the fact that the book might never see the light of day, and I'm still like, "I'll believe it when I see it!" It's been so long, I can hardly remember what I wrote. Man, I hope I don't suck!
I kid, I kid. It's exciting to see the book finally coming out. Hopefully the fans will agree it was worth the wait.
Given the three-year gap between announcement and release, did the story happen to change at all on your end, or is the finished product effectively the same as what you originally wrote? Since it seems to be something of a timeless story rather than one dependent on continuity, I imagine there probably wasn't much need for maneuvering.
Yeah, it was always intended to be a timeless, standalone story that would be accessible to new readers as well as longtime fans. So in that respect, the delay hasn't hurt it in the slightest. In actual fact, it probably makes more sense in the current Marvel Universe than it would have three years ago!
Obviously a major change is that Adi Granov is now illustrating only issue #1, with Agustin Alessio taking over from #2 through #4. Visually, Alessio definitely seems to be of a complementary style -- how was the collaboration with Alessio, and what different touches has he brought to the series?
The script was written long before Agustin came aboard, so there was very little for me to do at that point, beyond the customary dialogue polish. Adi Granov is a tough act to follow, and I think Marvel were smart to wait until they found the right artist to complement his style. Agustin is a great match and he did a stellar job. He has to illustrate some pretty freaky alien weirdness, and he just nails it. Really beautiful work. I couldn't be happier with the way it's all worked out.
An interesting element of this series -- and something that makes it somewhat rare -- is that it's squarely focused on Captain America as a solo hero, rather than with the Avengers or one of his many crime fighting partners. What were you able to explore about the character that you wouldn't have been able to in a team-up story?
Adi and I wanted to explore Steve Rogers as super-soldier rather than super-hero. An army of one. We wanted to tell the kind of tough-guy-on-a-mission story that we love in movies like Rambo and Predator, with the added sci-fi weirdness that the Marvel Universe setting allows. And personally, I wanted to explore the connection between Cap and Volkov, this mysterious figure from his past. We only had four issues to play with, and throwing in too many secondary characters would only have diluted it.
It's also notable that this story appears to be full of science-fiction elements -- the solicitation for #3 includes the words "alien mutants," after all. That seems like a side of your writing you weren't previously able to explore full-tilt at Marvel -- do you consider "Captain America: Living Legend" a full-blown sci-fi story? And given some of the places the character has gone in recent years, do you see Cap as a character who can work in a variety of genres?
I do love a bit of sci-fi, it's true, and even if Cap isn't quite as versatile genre-wise as, say, Batman, there's still plenty you can do with him beyond punching bad guys. He's inherently a science-fictional hero, given his origins. It's always fun when you can bring in elements from beyond the familiar bad guys and situations. A degree of the unexpected.
The solicitations also reveal that Cap's World War II past plays a role -- how important is that aspect, and how much of a priority was it for you to bring that storied side of the character's history into the series?
We could easily have set the whole story in the present, but it felt richer to bring the story full circle from the past, with two very different portrayals of nationalism. Cap and his nemesis Volkov meet in the closing days of the war, then take very different paths across the ensuing decades, until they finally meet up again in the present day. There's a connection between them which I won't spoil here.
Your recent work has generally been on the (relatively) more grounded side -- is "Captain America: Living Legend" your last superhero story for a while?
My next spandex book will probably be creator-owned. Watch this space.
I'll be making some announcements next week at NYCC. Let's just say I'll be living the life of crime for a while longer yet!
"Captain America: Living Legend" #1 by Andy Diggle and Adi Granov is on sale now.