Marvel Comics’ attempts at corporate synergy between what their line of films are doing and where their comic books are going (or vice versa) is usually about as blunt as carving a turkey with a chainsaw. To this end, Marvel Comics announced yesterday (January 19) via Comic Book Resources and a TV special on ABC that Steve Rogers would once again be in super soldier form with a costume and shield last this year. His own series, “Captain America: Steve Rogers” will run alongside “Captain America: Sam Wilson” comic and be written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Jesus Saiz. By sheer coincidence, the third Captain America film, “Captain America: Civil War”, hits theaters on May 6.
Steve Rogers seemingly lost his super soldier serum during a storyline in 2014 which led to him settling into life as an old man (who still had enough experience to serve as support for an Avengers team) and his longtime partner Sam Wilson (also known as the Falcon) once again taking on the mantle of Captain America. He even has his own take on the costume and was given Steve’s unique shield as his own. As revealed by the cover and other promotional artwork, Steve Rogers will don a new costume and use a new triangular shield (allowing Sam to keep his old one). As explained by Jesus Saiz, Cap’s new shield “has two main innovations: its tip can deploy an ‘energy blade’ so Cap can cut into things, and the shield can be divided in two, so Steve can use both halves, one with each arm”. It is meant to invoke his original shield from the 1940’s which was triangular in shape.
Despite all of the promotional bleating, these sorts of story lines are nothing new to Steve Rogers. He has seemingly lost his super soldier serum and/or seemingly aged into retirement several times during his long comic book tenure. In the mid 90’s he even briefly wore armor (built by Iron Man) to allow him to continue fighting crime until he literally dropped dead, and several years ago Ed Brubaker wrote a “Steve Rogers: Super Soldier” mini series where Steve lost and regained his super soldier status within four issues. He’s also gone through several different shields for various reasons; during the 1980’s when Steve was “replaced” as Captain America by John Walker, he used a circular shield made of Vibranium supplied by him by Tony Stark (which Steve later returned after they had a spat). In the late 90’s and very early 2000’s, Steve’s original shield was seemingly lost and he used a hi-tech “photonic shield” for several years. Even running alongside his “replacement” is nothing new, only instead of dressing Sam Wilson in a palette swapped costume and calling him something else (as happened to Walker in the early 90’s when he became “U.S. Agent”), he will be allowed to share the title of Captain America with Rogers. In fact the only real “twist” is the fact that Marvel allowed Steve Rogers to run around in his aged form for almost a year. The precise method for Steve Rogers regaining his super-soldier form is currently unknown, but over the decades has always varied. It might be hilariously honest if he simply went on TV and asked the American public to clap their hands enough.
Despite the character’s recent box office success, both he and Sam Wilson struggle to make as big a bang in monthly comics sales. Currently, Sam Wilson’s book as Cap is selling over 29,000 copies an issue; right around where the out-of-continuity mini series “Captain America: White” by Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb is selling. The last time the “Captain America” comic was selling gangbusters beyond death or renumbering stunts, Bucky Barnes was at the helm. It is doubtful the franchise will be able to support two monthly series for long in terms of sales. In the end, however, Sam Wilson has gained a much deserved “promotion” while Steve Rogers is returning to the role which was always inevitable for him without undoing said promotion, which in the end is what really matters.