Marvel Comics has confirmed for Newsarama that author David (First Blood
) Morrell’s Captain America
project, originally announced almost two years ago, is now ready to ship to comic book shops.
Captain America: The Chosen
is a Marvel Knights
six-issue limited series penciled by artist Mitch Breitweiser and launching this September. Each issue will be 22 pages in length, until the final issue #6, which will be 26 pages.
Now at this moment you may be saying to yourself, “Hey wait, didn’t Morrell announce in an interview a few months ago that the project was called Captain America: The End
, seemingly a chapter in the umbrella of Marvel's ‘The End’ titles?”
No, you’re not crazy - yes
he did. But things have changed since then, mainly due to another
Captain America story from a few months back you may have heard of, that … well … is kind of an “End” story too…
We’ll let Morrell explain…
“Yes, the title was originally Captain America: The End
,” confirmed the author. “But when Steve Rogers/Captain America was shot on the courthouse steps in another series, that original title suddenly seemed to suggest that my story and that other story were somehow related, which they aren’t.
“The Marvel Universe is spread in many different directions. My editor and I had no idea what was happening in that other story arc. When we learned that Cap had been shot, we were as surprised as anybody, and I immediately realized that we’d need to change the title in order to avoid confusion. The change turned out to be beneficial, because I much prefer the hope and epic feeling implied in the new title, Captain America: The Chosen
As the title change is intended to make clear, Morrell’s now Marvel Knights
story completely stands on its own two feet. His full script was finished late last year and the writer tells us his original story and concept remains completely intact.
“Obviously, readers are curious about what will happen in that other part of the Marvel Universe, where Steve Rogers has been shot. Captain America: The Chosen
won’t give them any answers,” explained Morrell.
“My story is a completely different series, with a very different, very realistic tone. It is self-contained and feels like a mini-novel. When all six issues are read in one sitting, I hope the reader gets a sense of the scope I tried to put into the story. More than sixty years of history are compressed into it.
“From the start, I wanted to tackle the theme of the burden of being a superhero in today’s troubled world, especially a hero named after the United States. I wanted to try for the kind of character development that a novel provides. I wanted to try for emotion and relevance to the actual world and to present Cap’s history in a new way that makes us understand him as if for the first time. He’s a complex character with rich implications for all of us.”
Given the project was
initially announced nearly two years ago, we asked Morrell to give us some insight into the origin of the story, and some insight into why it’s taken this long to come to get into readers’ hands?
“A Marvel editor, Andy Schmidt, got in touch with me two years ago and asked if I’d be interested in doing a six-part Captain America series,” Morrell explained. “The idea was that Captain America had a strong military background, and I was the creator of Rambo in my 1972 novel First Blood
, another strong military character. Andy thought it would be interesting for me and Cap to get together. I love finding new ways to tell a story and immediately said that I was interested. But neither Any nor I knew if I had the ability to write an illustrated story.
“In my youth, I was a comic-book addict, particularly the EC horror and science fiction stories. But after the government restricted the comic-book industry, I drifted away (except for MAD
). Now I had a lot of catching up to do, particularly with regard to Captain America. Andy sent me the essential Cap stories along with some script formats. I was reminded of movie scripts, with the difference that illustrated stories are based on stop action. I wanted the experience so much that I wrote two spec issues of the mini-series, and when Marvel saw what I wanted to do, they welcomed me aboard.”
And as to the reasons between the long development period..? Morrell explained that too…
“First, I needed to immerse myself in Cap’s history and to think of a new way to explore his character. Then I needed to learn about writing illustrated stories. Among other things, I really fell in love with the drama of what happens when a reader turns a page, the opportunity for surprise.
“Next, I kept getting ideas for revisions, for better ways to present certain scenes, so I was constantly asking Andy Schmidt to give me extra time. And extra pages. The story so engaged me that I got permission to add four more pages to the final issue.
“Meanwhile, Mitch Breitweiser was showing us these incredible images with such realistic details of combat in Afghanistan that there seemed to be actual grit on the paper. Mitch’s painstaking research and attention to dramatic possibilities meant that he had to move at a slower pace than he otherwise might have been able to. His images are exceptional. One look at the first issue will announce to readers how stunningly talented he is.”
So finally, having talked about what his story is not
and the two years it took to hit shelves, Morrell explained what his story is
about, and given its combat scenes in Afghanistan, how tied to the “real” world and the U.S.’s current political reality it is…
“There are references to recent major world events, but there isn't a political soapbox, unless you consider the stress that our military goes through as a political statement. The theme is big, however. “
“I don't like giving away big story details,” said the author, “but I feel comfortable saying this. The entire story takes place in Afghanistan in the present, although I can't recall if we actually name the country. The story is about a new character, a U.S. Marine corporal named James Newman, who fears that he is suffering from combat stress when he starts seeing Captain America. Their relationship allows Newman to understand Captain America and his career in a completely different way.”