Starting this April, Marvel’s Captain America and Bucky title will be getting a new moniker and a new creative team. Out goes Bucky and in comes Hawkeye as the book shifts from a “between the cracks” Marvel U history book to a Captain America team up book spanning the entirety of the modern Marvel U. Up to bat as writer on the book is longtime Multiversity favorite Cullen Bunn, who comes to the book from several Fear Itself related Marvel titles (including the currently running Fear Itself: The Fearless) and of course his spectacular creator owned title The Sixth Gun.
Following last week’s announcement, Cullen chatted back and forth with us about his plans for the book, his views of the characters in it and just how different it will be from the other Captain America books it will share the stands with.
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Joshua Mocle: Marvel has a long a storied history of team-up books, be it Marvel Two-In-One, Solo Avengers, multiple iterations of Marvel Team-Up and most recently, Avenging Spider-Man. Are there any particular team-up books that hold a fond place in your heart?
Cullen Bunn: I was a huge fan of both Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-in-One. There are a few pairings that stick with me. Spider-Man and Red Sonja, Spider-Man and Ka-Zar, Spider-Man and the X-Men, the Thing and Man-Thing, the Thing and Rom… The list really goes on and on. I liked that pretty much anything could–and did–happen in those books and they explored the world of Marvel in quick, fun, easily-digestible bites. I was introduced to a lot of characters I wouldn’t have otherwise seen in those books.
JM: Team-Up books are kind of a unique beast in that they are the mid-point between a full on solo character book and an ensemble team book. What is it about the two character dynamic that appeals to you as a writer?
CB: I think you nailed it. On one hand, you have the anchor character–in this case Captain America–who gives the foundation and sense of continuity in the story. On the other hand, you’ve got an endless supply of potential guest stars. Each one changes the “feel” of the book in some pretty dynamic and exciting ways. Also, with a team-up, there is the opportunity to work with characters who might not normally get any face-time. Readers these days are really hesitant to try something new. A new Blackwulf series probably wouldn’t make it… but a team-up between an established anchor character and Blackwulf might be something fans will sign up for.
JM: How did the Captain America and Hawkeye assignment come about for you?
CB: I had worked with the editor, Lauren Sankovitch, on a short Captain America story, and I had been in contact with her a bit while working on Fear Itself: The Fearless and some other stories. When the decision was made to turn Cap & Bucky into Captain America and…, Lauren contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in pitching some ideas for it. I jumped all over the opportunity.
JM: What is it about Captain America that makes him an ideal anchor for a team-up book?
CB: Cap is a paragon, a shining example for other heroes. That alone makes him interesting in a team-up book. I also like the idea that every character who meets Captain America comes into the mix with some pre-conceived notions, some of which might be tainted by the media (for characters who haven’t met him before). But on an even more basic level, Captain America is always on the go, always exploring the corners of the Marvel U. So he’s a natural fit in that, by the nature of his job, he’s going to run into all these other players.
JM: I’m going to go out on a limb and assume the choice to use Hawkeye as the first partner for Cap has something to do with him featuring prominently in a certain multi-million dollar film coming out this summer. Given that, what is it about the character of Clint Barton that appeals to you?Continued below
CB: When I was first given the assignment, Hawkeye was one of my first choices to work with. I’ve always been a huge fan of the character. His history, his attitude, and his general coolness. I said he had a Robin Hood vibe, and some people jumped all over that to say, “He’s not like Robin Hood. He’s more of a frontiersman, hence the name, ‘Hawkeye.'” And to those folks I say… get over yourself. No one’s a bigger Natty Bumpo fan than me. I named a hunting dog after Natty Bumpo when I was a kid for pity’s sake! But when I tell people about my take on the Hawkeye character, it’s easier to say he’s a modern Robin Hood. That immediately conjures images of Robin Hood. If I would have said, “Hawkeye is a lot like Natty Bumpo,” it would have conjured blank stares.
JM: How do Cap and Clint end up teaming up for this first adventure? What is it about the task that makes it “Cap and Hawkeye” business and not Avengers business?
CB: At this point, I think “Cap and Hawkeye” business is “Avengers business.” But in this tale they are branching off from the main group to investigate a small disturbance in the Southwest. The Avengers are essentially allotting resources where they do the most good. Of course, the disturbance ends up not being so small after all.
JM: Given the long and sometimes spotted history the two characters have with each other, what is the current state of their friendship?
CB: Their friendship is still strong… but they’ve both gone through a great deal of late. Cap’s becoming a little more regimented. Hawkeye’s feeling both the need to prove himself to Cap and the need to be cut loose to forge his own path. This leads to a bit of strife between them.
JM: Both characters are currently, for lack of a better term, “all over” the Marvel Universe. Will you be bringing any of their goings-on in other books into this one, or will this be a more or less self contained adventure?
CB: I’m definitely not ignoring the Marvel Universe in this series. At the same time, though, I want to make sure a new reader could come into this book without feeling the need to dig through dozens of other issues to get the whole story. There are other stories connecting to these two characters and the world around them. This kind of book helps to open doors to stories the reader might not have found otherwise. But I don’t want the reading of those other tales to be prerequisites for enjoying this one.
JM: Do you have any favorite “Cap and Hawkeye” moments you want to play off of in the book?
CB: Yeah, I’m really enjoying the interplay and banter between the two. Maybe Cap’s the straight-man in this duo, but I want both the characters to have a voice and life of their own. It’s also been a lot of fun to write scenes in which they can use their abilities in concert.
JM: How has it been working with Alessandro Vitti so far?
CB: Alessandro is incredible! His creature designs have been amazing, and he has a real knack for bringing action sequences to life while keeping the story flow clear and easy to follow. What more could I ask for?
JM: What is it about his art that makes him the right one to draw this particular story?
CB: There are numerous action sequences in this arc that could–in clumsier hands–get messy, convoluted, and hard to follow. Alessandro, though, is a master at bringing this kind of cinematic quality to the page. It doesn’t hurt that he can also draw the quieter moments of a story with energy and enthusiasm.
JM: How long will Clint be in the book before passing the baton to the next character?
CB: The Cap & Hawkeye arc will run for 4 issues, followed by (I believe) Iron Man.
JM: You’ve thrown a few potential team-ups out there since the book was announced this week. Are there any characters you are just chomping at the bit to bring in the book?Continued below
CB: Of course! I could write this book for a lifetime and never get to all the team-ups I’d like to tackle. Some of the horror-themed characters would be a lot of fun, I think. Some of the more obscure characters people may have forgotten. The difficulty, of course, is that the more obscure the character, It’s always possible readers won’t pick up that issue. That’s why the first couple of arcs focus on characters readers recognize a little more easily.
CB: Slapstick, maybe? Aw, who am I kidding? I’d write the Hell out of a Slapstick story!
JM: Given the long and storied history of the Marvel Universe, the potential for entertaining team-ups could very well be endless. How do you narrow it down to one particular character or set of characters? Is there any singular criteria that you use to determine which characters to team Cap up with?
CB: I’m approaching it in terms of the stories and characters that make the most sense, play well from arc to arc, and paint something of a cohesive storyline. Even though each of the stories stand alone, I want them to feel like a “family” if that makes sense.
JM: How many different adventures do you have envisioned so far?
CB: So far, I’ve got four or five arcs brewing, as well as a couple of one-and-done tales.
JM: Will you be bringing any elements of your other Marvel Universe books into this one?
CB: It’s always possible that characters or events from my other books might play a role in this series, but right now I don’t have any major plans for that. Well… I take that back. As I was answering that question, an idea popped into my head…
JM: Broad strokes, deep thought question: how does working on this book differ from working on The Sixth Gun or some of your other creator owned works?
CB: The biggest difference is that when you do a book for Marvel, you’re not just collaborating with your artist and editor. You’re also collaborating with all the other creators. You’re playing with characters that the company may have plans for. So, you always have to keep that in mind. I could think of the world’s greatest Slapstick story, but if Jason Aaron is already knee-deep in writing Slapstick vs. Wolverine, I’m out of luck. It happened just recently. I had plans to introduce a supporting cast member whom I thought was a stroke of creative genius. My editor called me up and said, “I have bad news. In the arc Jason is currently writing, he introduces a character almost exactly like that.” It’s the nature of the game, really. The good news is, I enjoy collaboration. Writing can be a lonely existence. That kind of collaboration… the nature of working with others in this way… challenges me to tell better stories.
JM: If you met a fan that was on the fence about picking up the book, especially in light of the fact that there are at least two other Captain America-related books they could be buying, how would you choose to sell them on the book?
CB: This Captain America book is going to be distinctly different from the others out there. It’s going to feature lots of superhero stuff. Lots of guest stars. Lots of big action as well as character moments. And the stories will be, for the most part, stand alone. It’s really going to be an anything-goes type of book… full of mayhem, if you will.
Thanks again to Cullen for taking the time to chat! Be on the lookout for Captain America & Hawkeye when it launches this April with Issue #629!