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Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
The Return of the Real Captain America
By Chad Derdowski
April 13, 2011
To the surprise of absolutely no one on the face of the planet (especially those who read Captain America #615.1), Marvel Comics recently announced that Steve Rogers will be donning his old red, white and blue togs again, just in time for his big-screen debut. To the surprise of perhaps a few (but likely not many), he’ll be getting another #1 issue and to the surprise of at least a number of people (including the seemingly omniscient voice of Comicscape), the regular Captain America book will be re-titled Captain America and Bucky and will feature flashback stories about the good Captain and his former partner, former enemy and former replacement, Mr. James Buchanan Barnes.
We at Comicscape have never made our love of Bucky-as-Cap a secret, despite being perfectly comfortable with the inevitable return of Mr. Rogers to his neighborhood. In fact, we’ve discussed it more than once in this very column but with these recent announcements… well, why not discuss it again?
The Re-Numbering Issues Issue
You oughtta know our stance on re-numbering comics by now: we don’t care. You can call every issue #1 as far as we’re concerned; just try to tell a good story. That being said, it is pretty cool to see a book reach a milestone issue and in the case of comics like Superman or Batman, there’s just something nice about knowing that these books have been published regularly for 70 years or so. Seeing that big number on the cover is like seeing your Grandpa and Grandma during the holidays. It’s kind of warm and comforting.
Of course, in the case of most Marvel comics, it’s also bull****. While Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk, Daredevil and Fantastic Four might have numbers in the high digits, all of those books have been cancelled and restarted with new #1’s, only to “return to their original numbering” when they neared a milestone. Which really means “we added up every book that they might’ve appeared in and then fudged the numbers a bit to make it an even 600”. But it’s cool – like we said, it doesn’t matter what kind of number you want to put on the front, it’s what’s inside that counts.
Marvel seems to have found the perfect way to please fans on both sides of the fence. It’s the same old trick DC did when they launched a new Superman book back in the ‘80s. You just retitle the old book with a new name (Superman became Adventures of Superman) so the numbering doesn’t get interrupted when you launch a new title. Eventually, the new book will be cancelled and the old one will regain its previous name. This will likely happen with the advent of another milestone issue.
Besides, Captain America #620 (the one where the title will change) isn’t really the six-hundred and twentieth consecutive issue of that book anyway. This is like, the 5th volume of Cap, and for the first 99 issues, the book was called Tales of Suspense. So who cares about numbering?
The Bucky Issue
Luckily, there’s somebody else using the Nomad name, so we don’t have to worry about that one, but for the love of god, don’t put Bucky back in the Winter Soldier costume! Odds are, Bucky will just be “the other Captain America”, sort of like how there’s two Batmans. Or is that Batmen? Anyway, Marvel may have even said something about this kind of thing happening and we missed it (or are just too lazy to look it up), but we won’t be at all surprised if Bucky remains in his modern version of the Cap outfit and perhaps leads the Secret Avengers when Steve resumes the mantle of Captain America and leads the uh… regular Avengers. Or whatever they’re called.
And that’s cool too. As much as we might prefer to actually see a little progress being made, we recognize the need (or perhaps simply the desire) to put the one, true Cap back behind the shield, especially in time for the movie. And with the nation divided in so many ways, it’ll be nice to see the guy who doesn’t necessarily represent the United States government or the corporations who control that government, but rather the ideals of the United States of America back in the costume, fighting the good fight for the good people of the USA. Captain America is a powerful symbol and let’s face it: Steve Rogers is the heart and soul of that symbol (as well as the physical embodiment).
So now that we’ve got all that covered…
The Flashback Issue
Starting in July, the newly minted Captain America and Bucky title will focus on the journey that Steve Rogers and James Barnes took together and separately through World War II through (presumably) the present day. It will tie in to the events in the new Captain America title as well as Marvel’s next big crossover event, Fear Itself.
So does that mean we’ll get a monthly title featuring Cap and Bucky bashing Nazi skulls during the second World War? Well, that sounds awesome! We love World War II stories and wish that there were more of ‘em in comics. Hell, Nazi-smashin’ is a full 50% of what we love about the Indiana Jones movies and at least 23% of what we love about Hellboy. We’d kill for a Justice Society comic set during WWII – but we’ll settle for Cap & Bucky (‘cause that basically means we’re getting an Invaders book).
Of course, with what we’re hearing from Marvel, there’s always the fear that Captain America & Bucky might be nothing more than a tie-in book: One of the many one-shots and mini-series’ that don’t function on their own but only serve to enhance the bigger picture of the summer crossover event, albiet one with an issue number somewhere in the 600’s. And that may very well be the case, but still… Cap and Bucky fightin’ the good fight behind enemy lines? Awesome!
Sure, we’re a little dissappointed that Bucky won’t be Cap anymore, but it’s not like we didn’t know it was coming and overall, we really have no complaints. Well okay, Captain America: Reborn was kind of a letdown, but other than that, Ed Brubaker has been delivering a solid story which, for all intents and purposes, started in Captain America #1 back in 2005. The man did the unthinkable by bringing Bucky back from the dead, completely retconning his history to make him not only an advance scout who took part in some particularly heinous deeds during the war but also a Soviet assassin and making it work. Bucky has long been considered one of the holy trinity of Marvel characters who can never return from the dead (the others being Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy) but in bringing him back, Brubaker wrote a new chapter and enhanced the legend of Captain America.
So we’re not going to complain about Steve slingin’ the shield again, especially since Brubaker’s going to be writing both series’. Right now, we’re just waiting to see how he does it and hoping that it’ll live up to our expectations. The bar has been set pretty high, but Ed’s the guy who set it, so we’re pretty confident it’ll be okay. And honestly… they had us at Cap & Bucky fightin’ Nazis.