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Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

The Return of the Real Captain America

By Chad Derdowski     April 13, 2011

Chad Derdowski's Comicscape takes a glance at Captain America
© Marvel/Bob Trate


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.


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jedibanner 4/13/2011 5:52:42 AM

Interesting, didn't know any of this. But reading stories of Cap abd Bucky in the old days, not really my thing. I like the way Cap is the big Cheese right now and though it was a great new way for him to be part of the Marvel U.

I hope that part of the equation continues...

GundamWingMan 4/13/2011 6:30:55 AM

I'm probably the only comic geek in this hemisphere who DIDN'T like Bucky parading around as Cap (in fact, I derisively called him "Bucky America") and was counting down the days until Steve rightfully regained the shield. However, I'm looking forward to the Cap & Bucky book as I love stories with them kicking copious Nazi ass. Should be lots of fun.

CaptAmerica04 4/13/2011 7:03:36 AM

Chad, I share your disappointment at taking the shield away from Barnes and giving it back to Steve Rogers.  I really liked the new take on Barnes-as-Cap, though they never quite got him out from under the shadow of Rogers.  

I know it's willfully naive of me, but I hold out hope that, someday soon, after the movies have been made and appreciated, Marvel and/or DC (and I bet it'll be Marvel first) will realize that letting characters stay dead and/or gone is okay, and let the characters start to evolve a bit more.  Barnes as Cap worked.  And though I preferred to see Tim Drake take the cowl, it was good to see Dick Grayson finally fill his "dad's" shoes as the Bat.  Time marches on, and part of life is seeing the next generation step up to make their own name or fill the shoes of their predecessors, for good or for ill.  That was one of the tragedy's of "Brand New Day/One More Day."  All the progress that Peter Parker had made was wiped away.

Thor may stay Thor forever, and we already know that Superman doesn't age.  Wolverine can last for a couple hundred more years, at least.  But Tony Stark will eventually find that armor getting heavier, Hal Jordan will eventually have to step aside (again) for Kyle Ranier, John Stewart, or some other ring-slinger, and even the Hulk will start to get a little long in the tooth.  I think that Marvel/DC needs to accept that time passes, and start working on the next generation of heroes.

Time marches on, even when you wear spandex and kick ass.

Wiseguy 4/13/2011 7:05:05 AM

I was/am with you Gundam just maybe not as vehemently as you.

Looking forward to all this goodness. A little throwback with today's edginess I think will make for great fun

GundamWingMan 4/13/2011 7:38:39 AM

Look, we all know (or should have known) that "Bucky America" was nothing more than a gimmick, and a temporary one at that. It was only a matter of time before Steve took the shield back, that's why I refused to warm up to Bucky as Cap. Hell, even if there wasn't a Cap movie coming out, Bucky's days with the shield were numbered, one way or another. But I'd be interested in seeing what happens in the future concerning Steve's role with the Secret Avengers, can't be fronting a covert ops squad while wearing the flag. Now THERE'S a gig better suited for Bucky, in fact, how about making him the new U.S. Agent!


8man 4/13/2011 7:55:25 AM

I've been reading comic books for almost 40 years.  Early on I realized that there were going to be generational things that happened that would chronologically distance the characters from our world more and more each year.

It's why I've always been in favor of starting over every twenty five years or so.  Same characters, just slightly different origins.  And relevancy to the current day and age.  Some day Cap's origin may not occur in World War II, but during the Iraqi War.  Not advocating it, just saying.

But yeah, Cap and Bucky smashing Nazis, that's good stuff!  And the Nazis are just so easy to root against.  The movie will own and I think Hugo Weaving will deliver a compelling Red Skull like Nicholson's Joker and Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter.

BunyonSnipe 4/13/2011 4:59:28 PM

The thing about characters like Cap, Batman and other heroes is that they live in this bubble, that changes very little.

In continuity Bruce has been the Bat not for 72 years, but maybe 8-10 years at most and with the exception of 52 and One Year Later in another 72 years, he will probably still have been the Bat for about a decade in DC time...

They have become over time more than just fictional characters, for all we know in a millenia or two they might be worshipped as long lost gods...

ChadDerdowski 4/13/2011 5:09:18 PM

Bucky as the new U.S. Agent?  Hmmm... you might just be on to something there.



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