The Truth is out there, but writer Robert Morales is far from finished.
Morales, who penned the controversial Truth: Red, White, and Black series, will pick up the reins of Marvel’s Captain America with issue #21, bringing artist Chris Bachalo along for the ride. The writer was kind enough to answer a few questions concerning his upcoming run on the title, and comments on the potential fallout from Truth, why Bachalo is the perfect artist for the title, and how Captain America is a lot like Michael Jordan.
Brandon Thomas: Your upcoming run on Captain America comes on the heels of the controversial Truth miniseries. Were you satisfied with the series, and will anything from that story carry over into the Cap run?
Robert Morales: I always need some distance to figure if I’m satisfied with anything I do. Overall, Truth accomplished much of what Marvel wanted: It’s a high-profile series that appealed to an audience outside the comics mainstream, and it made far more money than they were expecting (whatever you might’ve heard from online shitheads), and they expect it to be a perennial earner once it’s collected. Fans who stayed with the book–or who came to read the book once it was concluded–were by and large moved. And different kinds of black characters finally appeared in a comic book! So I’m pleased about that–and the wonderfully accessible art Kyle Baker did for the book–but more concerned with what I’m doing today.
While FBI agent Damien Spinrad might appear as necessary, there are no plans to reference Truth in the regular Cap run. Not yet, anyway.
Thomas: Fans seem to feel strongly one way or the other about new series artist Chris Bachalo. What do you know that the naysayers don’t, and what makes Bachalo the perfect man for this?
Morales: What I know is I’ve seen much of the art, and I share the awe that everyone else at Marvel has for what Chris has brought to the table: a dynamism that’s matched by a considerable humanism; I think it’s the first time you can look at Chris’s art and see at once the mindsets that drew Death and Steampunk and Ultimate War in total harmony. He was an inspired choice on Axel Alonso’s part.
Thomas: With any creative relaunch, the first storyline is often critical to establish a pace and tone for the entire run. What can we expect from Homeland?
Morales: Basically, I’m trying to ignore all that, and con myself into believing I’m already in the middle of a Captain America run that’s exciting, fun and smart. It’s the kind of functional self-delusion that keeps the pressure at bay. Thematically, Homeland will restate Cap’s standing as a world figure in the world arena. (Typed with crossed fingers.)
Thomas: Some writers have used the character to address relevant political and social issues. Will you be doing the same to some extent?
Morales: The great thing about the Marvel Universe is that it references the real world. My pre-Truth collaboration with Kyle Baker was a series of satirical cartoons for Vibe magazine. So look for different political viewpoints as they come up in course of Cap’s business, but don’t look for my endorsing one political party over another through Cap–that’s not my job.
Thomas: From a storytelling standpoint, how do you approach a character like Cap, and make him “human” without compromising his essence? Who’s the more interesting character to you, Captain America or Steve Rogers?
Morales: Recently, I was interviewed re: Truth by Stanford Carpenter, an academic doing a book on blacks in comics for Duke University Press. Carpenter made a great comparison–he saw Cap as being like Michael Jordan: “He’s the pinnacle, and you know him–but you don’t really know him.” After years of interviewing celebrities, I know exactly what he means. Cap has/is a public face we all know.
Steve Rogers, on the other hand, is the most underrated character in the MU. Here’s a guy who’s seen and done it all. Cap’s one of the cornerstone characters of comics, but it’s Steve that I’m exploring because Cap is an attitude, an action, an ideal–those moments when Jordan embodied an impossible three-pointer that made you leap up and your jaw drop.
Steve Rogers has a life. It’s interesting. (I hope.)
Thomas: Will we be seeing any of Cap’s classic villains, or are you concentrating on forging some new adversaries?
Morales: As of today, there are no plans for any classic villain appearances. Part of what we’re trying to do with Cap is retool the book’s approach without lots of continuity baggage in the way. The bags are in storage until they’re needed, but right now Cap needs to be a comic that longtime fans and new readers can enjoy.
Thomas: In your opinion, is Captain America better served by teaming with the Avengers and taking down the Red Skull, or fighting against a more “grounded” threat?
Morales: He’s better served by stories and art that don’t suck, whatever their approach.
Thomas: Since you’re penning the Marvel Universe incarnation of Cap, any pressure to differentiate or separate this Steve Rogers from the Rogers that appears in Millar’s Ultimates?
Morales: There’s no pressure at all. Mark’s Cap is a very European metaphor for American imperialism, a kick-ass critique. The Marvel Universe Cap is a metaphor for American values that make a positive difference in the world. Each Cap has his place.
Thomas: Does your run have a predestined end point, or will you be staying with Cap for the foreseeable future?
Morales: I’m committed to 18 issues with Axel, but it’s a gentlemen’s agreement, not a contractual one.
Thomas: Special thanks to Bob Morales for participating this week, and keep an eye out for his first issue of Cap this winter.
Special Note: Fellow Padawan learner Barb Lien has an interview up at Comicon’s PULSE http://www.comicon.com/pulse/ about her new series GUN STREET GIRL, which premiered at Graphicsmash.com today. Give it a look.
Next: It’s time to change the way I’ve been approaching the writing of comic books. More details in seven…