It’s not a game…not anymore.
Welcome to Ambidextrous Year Two where nothing is truly safe and only one thing is certain…your Mondays belong to me.
I could regale you with some rousing introduction, providing an appropriate mission statement or objective, but that was last year. This year we’re getting right to business.
Wrote an article a few weeks back about Marvel’s upcoming piece of controversy existing in the form of a mini-series revealing The Truth about the origin of Captain America. It garnered the most e-mail that this weekly platform of blistering commentary and aspiring musings has ever seen, so I did what any responsible online columnist would’ve done…
…I asked series editor Axel Alonso (one of the few people who is aware of what this series is about by the way) to drop by and clear some things up. You know Axel. He edits a flood of remarkable titles for Marvel Comics including the Spider-Man line, Incredible Hulk, X-Statix, and a handful of those adult MAX titles. He has a flair for connecting great creators with great characters, often making for great stories. And he’s come to Ambidextrous to tell you all to relax, that there’s nothing to fear from The Truth.
Ambi: The rumor mill is alive with a decidedly negative reaction to this series? Why are people so afraid of THE TRUTH?
Axel:: The first wave of feedback was definitely negative, but that’s par for the course when you announce change of any kind. While the feedback has evened out over the past few weeks, it’s clear this series has inspired quite a reaction.
Many of the folks who, sight unseen, reject the very idea of THE TRUTH suffer from the misconception that Captain America is a static character. That’s bull. Captain America was an icon of American virtue and might during World War II, but in the ’60s, Jack Kirby, Steranko, Gene Colan and Stan Lee had him appropriately questioning that same iconic status. And in the ’70s, Steve Englehart and Sal Buscema cast the Falcon as Cap’s social conscience, a guy who provided Cap with the street-level perspective he needed to stay true to himself. The Civil Rights Movement bubbled beneath the surface of those stories — to their betterment and Cap’s.
The big question, of course, now is who is Cap today? What world does he serve? While John Ney Rieber and John Cassaday are examining that in the monthly series, part of the answer lies where Cap came from? We hope that THE TRUTH sheds some light on these questions.
Axel:: The first time I heard the words “Black Captain America,” Bill Jemas had inspired some online furor by suggesting that a future Ultimates title might feature an African American Captain America. People went crazy. I found it interesting — even telling — that the very IDEA of an African American Captain America inspired such anger and resentment in some corners. That got me thinking, and a common sense question emerged: Realistically speaking, whom would the Super Soldier program have conducted its first tests on?
Now anyone who’s heard the word “Tuskegee” has an inkling whom that might have been.
Axel:: THE TRUTH is not a change in Captain America’s myth as much as it is a deepening of Captain America’s myth. Heroism has as much to do with sacrifice as it does bravery; and THE TRUTH reveals the terrible sacrifices that led to Steve Rogers’ transformation into the legendary hero.
The folks who assume that this book is going to tarnish the legacy of Steve Rogers should wait until they read it. I fail to see how a full examination of the events that preceded Captain America does anything to tarnish his heroism.
While THE TRUTH revolves around the inter-linked fates of an ensemble of Black characters, this isn’t only a “Black” story. As Robert [Morales] said in his early notes, “All history is shared history.” THE TRUTH is not a political tract; it is a piece of fiction that reconciles the origin of an iconic character with real-world events. We’re not going to run from history because it makes some people uncomfortable.
Ambi: How did this project get off the ground? What was the factor that said…Marvel needs to do this a book like this?
Axel:: I was thinking of this project as a STARTLING STORY, and quite frankly, I thought that was going to be a tough sell. But Joe Q and Bill J were immediately intrigued by the series premise and, after an initial meeting with Robert [Morales], they said to go ahead and make it a part of Cap continuity.
Axel:: Since THE TRUTH observes the backdrop of real history, I thought that it might benefit from a creator who drew upon experience as well as research to shape the story. It just so happened that back when I was at DC/Vertigo, I’d had long discussions with Kyle Baker and Robert Morales about a limited series that had a certain verisimilitude with this project. I knew that this team could bring a level of depth and authenticity to this project that not just anyone could.
Ambi: When the series concludes, will we ever see this new character introduced in THE TRUTH in the modern Marvel Universe in some form?
Axel:: Possibly . . .
Ambi: Tell us something about the mini. That we’re not supposed to know … some shiny exclusive tidbit that will confirm the suspicion that Marvel has gone too far this time?
Axel:: Nice try, bro’.
Ambi: Next year, after the smoke settles and some other “controversial” project is making the rounds, what are people going to say about THE TRUTH? Make a prediction. How is this all going to end?
Axel:: I can’t predict. Some folks will love it, some folks will hate it. It’s our hope that when the story is over, people will understand why we published it. THE TRUTH is not a political tract; it is a piece of fiction that reconciles the origin of an iconic character with real-world events. We hope that fans read it with a more-or-less open mind, and leave the series mindful of the different worlds we all live in.
Ambi:: Sounds good. I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Marvel’s Axel Alonso for taking time to answer my questions and providing some preview pages from the series. THE TRUTH is out there in November. Watch this space for further details as I’ll be sure to provide the exact release date for the first issue.
And now…feel free to help yourselves to The New Hotness…
The New Hotness – The Books You Should’ve Read Last Week:
Apache Skies #1 (John Ostrander/Leonardo Manco)
I never liked westerns. Westerns were the strange ancient creations that Dad liked to watch on Sunday afternoons. This leaves me with little explanation why I bought Apache Skies from Marvel MAX and definitely doesn’t explain why I’m recommending it to you all. But it probably has something to do with the crisp narrative and gorgeous artwork. Ostrander tells a classic revenge tale, wraps it around some solid characterization and dialogue, and crafts an engrossing first issue, setting the stage for further dramatics down the line. And he resists the urge to swear unnecessarily simply because there’s a parental advisory stamp on the cover. Mature comics should mean more than excessive violence and gratuitous nudity, and in Apache Skies it does…an opportunity to explore genres that aren’t often represented in comics. Impressive showing on all fronts.
Queen and Country #10 (Greg Rucka/Leandro Fernandez)
This book is always good. It’s one of the few sure things going on in the industry at this moment. It discards the modern trappings of pop culture displays of espionage and substitutes the giant death rays and cackling villains with a sense of realism that permeates the writer’s excellent scripts. You can almost feel Rucka’s extensive research dripping off the page as he weaves complicated tales of modern spy games that rely on the fractured motivations of an ensemble cast of three-dimensional personalities. Leandro’s art doesn’t hurt things, despite the furore his shapely visual interpretation of Tara Chace has caused in some circles. Just go buy the damn thing already…
Oni Press Color Special 2002 (Everybody and their mama…)
Yes. Oni Press twice in one week. The results of good books I guess. The annual summer anthology throws so many stories, concepts, and creators at you that you’ll be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. Some are prologues to upcoming epics, some are interludes to existing tales, and some are just damn good stories. Genres are crossed with frightening speed as people like Warren Ellis, Gail Simone, Neal Shaffer, Christine Norrie, Sabina Ex Machina, Ted Naifeh, Phil Hester, Gary Phillips, Bryan O’Malley, Kelley Seda, and those Red Star boys Gossett and Kayl take turns hitting you over the head. And it’s in full color and wrapped in a fun Mike Allred cover. The best six bucks you’ll spend all summer.
One more thing before we get outta here…
Ambidextrous Street Team:
I’m conceiving a bit of online grassroots organizing to force my hit counter into nearing unparalleled heights. But I need your help. If you like what I’m doing in my little corner of the net, tell a friend and spread the word. Interested persons are also invited to contact me directly at my e-mail address [email protected] to be provided with a direct link to disseminate through your address books. Only you can help me take over the world, and like I said before…it’s not a game anymore. Besides, I need to justify this change of venue/relaunch thing to my editors that don’t realize it was just an excuse to put up a fresh new picture. See you in seven with The Blueprint…
Oh, and before Axel completed his interview, he imparted upon me some exclusive info. Apparently, DC was so intrigued by the idea of doing a little subtle race manipulation to their icons that they’re already planning a Black Superman series. Here’s a first look…