The Captain America everyone knows and loves grew from a frail Steve Rogers to the Star-Spangled Avenger after growing up in the Great Depression era of New York City where he learned to stand up for the weaker guy. These lessons learned has served Cap well over the years and especially now after being transported to Dimension Z under the control of Arnim Zola thanks to Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. The look and feel of Dimension Z is being pulled from a number of sources says CBR with Remender commenting, “That stuff is always fun to look at and it gives me ideas, but really this was a world where the life forms were not very evolved. It wasn’t a place where there were towering cities or flying cars prior to the arrival of Arnim Zola. We haven’t really seen much of Zola’s city yet, and the second arc takes us inside Zolandia where we’ll get a look at the city and and how it operates. Those influences are definitely there, and there are also a little bit of Frank Miller sprinkled on this story in terms of trying to beat Cap down into the ground and then build him back up. That is, if I do build him back up.” As told in Captain America #4, The First Avenger has been trapped in Dimension Z for over a decade, which ponders the question as to whether or not his allies have tried to come look for him and if time in this reality will impact his adventures elsewhere in the Marvel U. “There are a number of theories floating around as to what’s going on, and I don’t want to put a spotlight on any of them,” Remender said.
“There’s a big reveal about how this all works and how exactly it will move into the rest of the Marvel Universe,” continued the writer. “The impact will be felt at the end of the story. I don’t want to give away any of the reveals. It will all make sense in the end, and at this point the craziness has really just started. You haven’t seen half of the story. I spent half of these first four issues really trying to get a look at Steve; who he was as a kid and how he earned his tenacity, his ethical compass and the great heart he possesses,” Remender continued. “When we add up the pages, in the first four issues it’s almost half New York flashbacks and half Cap in Dimension Z. We barely got things started, and when you eventually see the things that are going on in this story, you’ll be glad I didn’t reveal it in an interview.” Cap’s adventure in Dimension Z may have isolated him from his allies, but it’s discovered he has become the role of a father figure after rescuing an infant boy named Ian from Zola’s laboratory. “Steve Rogers’ life is too clean for me, so my plan for the first year or two is going to be to try and give him a number of other connections to family types that aren’t just a Sharon Carter or a Falcon. That’s all I can really say. It’s a bummer, because by the time we get to this, nothing is what anyone is going to expect. It’s all pretty big when it comes falling down,” Remender said. “I think more than anything, though, I wanted to give some context to what he was fighting for by giving him someone that he was protecting.”
“Where this leads and where the story takes us will change Steve quite a bit moving forward,” says Remender. “I think the added responsibility will perhaps spotlight the fact that he’s allowed his personal life to shrivel up and die in service to the uniform.” While the writer is expanding Steve’s family in this new story arc, Remender is also showing readers how his family fell apart during his childhood years through a series of flashbacks, which helped Cap become the man he is today, but Remender feels they also impacted the hero in other ways as well. “His family fell apart and left him in a dangerous situation,” states the writer. “He and his mother were all that was left by the time he was around ten years old. In my mind, he’s fighting for his mother and he always has been. This woman raised him on her own, with no money, during the Great Depression. Through all the hardships they faced, she continued to impart on him that you cannot allow difficult circumstances to change you. That you always have to stand up for and help protect those in need. Steve has followed that to such a degree that he’s almost obsessed with it. He’s intent on showing his mother that he’s going to live up to this challenge she set out for him. None of that challenge, though, was, ‘Settle down and have a family.’ It was all about these ethical ideas and this moral compass that she built into him instead of having a life and being normal. If you look at the history of the character, he’s always washed that away. He’ll have a relationship and get his art career up and running — and it will immediately fall apart and he’ll just leave it alone.”
“He struggled a little bit to hold it together in writer Mark Gruenwald’s issues, but for the most part it comes and it’s not that important to him,” says Remender. “So he washes it away,” Remender continued. “In my mind, Spider-Man works because of Peter Parker, and if Steve Rogers doesn’t have a Peter Parker-style cast and life, the context for what he’s fighting for and trying to hold together isn’t there. He becomes a guy who’s chasing down this ideal. That’s why I tried to connect it to his mother. He’s really trying to live up to the ideals and expectations that she put on him. However, that pursuit has left only Captain America. There is no Steve Rogers. There is no accepting a wedding proposal from Sharon Carter and having a few children and enjoying your life. There is only service.” While Cap is focusing on his alter ego at the cost of his personal life may remind readers of a similar hero famous for his devotion to service, but the writer states the parallels to the Dark Knight end there for the most part. “Cap has a very different kind of origin, but that’s why I wanted to tell it,” says Remender. “He wasn’t shocked into being this person by his parents being gunned down in an alley. Steve’s nightmare is slow and real. His existence is starving and being completely broke and destitute while caring for your sick mother during the Great Depression after you lost your father and your grandfather. So there’s nobody left in the god damn world that’s going to help him. I needed to tell that story to understand who this character was. I came out it with a much clearer understanding of Steve Rogers, and hopefully the readers will have as well.”
As for some of the empathy you may see Steve have while in Dimension Z, it’s not a trait Arnim Zola has because his recent god complex has driven the mad scientist to create a multitude of genetic monstrosities, while Ian and Zola’s daughter Jet Black appear to be normal humans. “Beyond being a sociopath who craves experimentation and scientific knowledge, Zola wants to be loved. The big question was, why does this guy want to make these perfect children? Why did he bring Steve Rogers around to try and get some Super Soldier serum and make these kids as physically powerful, strong, intelligent and genetically perfect as he can? The answer is: ego. It’s a big sense of ego, but he also expects these kids to worship, adore him and love him. I don’t even know if he’s aware of that, but that’s definitely what’s going on in the background.We haven’t unveiled Zola’s big plan. Again, the first four issues of this story Cap is raising Ian on the planes of Dimension Z while years are passing by, and we’re getting a look at his origin,” Remender continued. “This first arc is a slow build that really just gets the train out of the station. When you think about five issues of modern comic books, you’re dealing with a hundred pages. To tell Steve’s origin, to get him to Dimension Z and set up there, and then get the plot bubbling took about a hundred pages. The second arc is really where we’ll get to what Zola is up to, his plans for the various mutates he’s created, what the kids are all about and what was expected of them. We’ll also explore the connections between Cap, Zola and Zola’s children.”
“Zola is the vengeful father who believes that his son has been killed, and should he discover that the boy is alive, he will, of course, consider him to have been abducted,” Remender states. “Jet is the vengeful and somewhat confused sister. And then you’ve got Steve, the accidental father who’s not sure he did the right thing by taking the kid in the first place. He was drugged up out of his head and he saw a baby in the clutches of Arnim Zola, so his first thought was, ‘Let’s get that baby and get out of here.’ I don’t think he had any idea of what was coming next. That drama is what drives the second arc.” In issue #5, tensions begin to boil over when the first confrontation between Cap and Jet Black take place, and everything begins to change for Steve. “The issue doesn’t have a flashback, but the idea is, at the end, you’ll see why I told each one of the flashbacks that I did,” says the writer. “I hit a couple of the lessons that Steve walked away from in each one of those experiences on the head, but a few were more subtle. When you see the end of issue #5, you’ll see exactly how each one of those moments in his life, be they big or quiet, have informed him as a character. When he comes to certain points in life and he’s down low, he draws upon them to rise back up. Plus, issue #5 is all action! It’s John Romita Jr., Tom Palmer and Scott Hanna doing craziness with Dean White and Lee Loughridge colors. It’s a pretty spectacular looking comic book.”
Over the next several months, Remender and his team will continue to collaborate on the Dimension Z saga before moving on to the next arc. The writer didn’t talk too much about the next storyline, but offered a few hints as to what it will feature. “You’ll see Doctor Mind Bubble, the Super Soldier Serum mixed with LSD, the Weapon Minus program, and Nuke. Plus, we’ll see more of Green Skull, the villain from issue #1 who I write as if he’s the Dennis Hopper character in Apocalypse Now!”