Good ol'Cap gets the "Astonishing" treatment in a four-issue miniseries by writer Andy Diggle and artist Adi Granov, slated to be launched in Summer 2011, possibly to coincide with his upcoming Hollywood outing. Meanwhile, Ultimate Cap (the ultimate badass version) gets his first solo outing, courtesy of writer Jason Aaron and a familiar face, artist Ron Garney.

So what exactly is an "Astonishing" treatment?

Well, you would have seen how it was done with X-Men, Spider-Man & Wolverine if you have been following Marvel's line for the last few years. It first began in 2004 when Joss Whedon (obscenely famous now for being the director of the upcoming Avengers) took over the writing reins of X-Men and Marvel launches Astonishing X-Men, a pseudo continuation of Grant Morrison's New X-Men title featuring a similar line-up of characters, and more importantly, a continuity-light take on the title. Perhaps overwhelmed by the all-affecting impact of Morrison's quintessential run, the powers-that-be ensured that the continuity of Astonishing remain comparably self-contained (though these continuity barriers are as of now non-existent) and well-protected from participation in the major crossover events like House of M, Decimation and Civil War, both intended so and due to long delays.

In summary, "Astonishing" is now synonymous with a continuity-light take on some of the most popular Marvel characters by a high-profile creative team. The "Astonishing" treatment were also applied on Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine, written by Jason Aaron with art by Adam Kubert, with encouraging results.

At the New York Comic-Con, in a conspicuous way to coincide with the release of Captain America: The First Avenger on July 22nd next year, Marvel has announced "Astonishing Captain America" a four issue miniseries by writer Andy Diggle, the main architect behind Daredevil's recent game-changing arc, "Shadowland", and artist Adi Granov, known for his work on the "Extremis" arc on Iron Man and his design work fro the Iron Man suit for Jon Favreau's 2008 Iron Man film.
Andy Diggle, architect of the current Shadowland crossover writes the five-issue series; Adi Granov, best known for the "Extremis" arc on Iron Man, illustrates.

Being a man out of time, Steve Rogers has missed many monumental events of history that reshapes America in a way he can never imagine in the relatively simpler times of World War II era. What would be the impact on Cap should he be around during the Vietnam War and Cold War? We can only imagine but with "Astonishing Captain America", an old face from World War II shows up and promises to open Cap's eye on what he had missed all this while.

Check out some excerpts from Comic Book Resources'interview with Diggle and Granov.

The villain that Diggle and Granov have designed for this project is a Russian soldier named Volkov, who Steve Rogers meets towards the end of World War II and then mysteriously resurfaces in the 21st century. "In the first issue, Captain America saves this guy's life in the closing days of World War II. Then of course, after that, Steve Rogers ends up getting frozen and misses the next few decades while he's floating around in an iceberg somewhere. Meanwhile, Volkov becomes a hero of the Soviet Union. He gets recruited into their space program," Diggle explained. "He has this whole parallel career that's going on while Steve is on ice. Then decades later, in the year 2011, Volkov makes a mysterious reappearance in a way that I don't want to spoil. Hopefully it comes slightly from left field."

When Volkov reemerges in the 21st century, he'll have become both a powerful and enigmatic figure. "He's extremely dangerous, but his motivations are not going to be readily apparent to start with," Diggle hinted. "A series of, shall we say, phenomena, begin to occur, and Volkov connects this series of seemingly unrelated events. I know that's slightly cryptic, but that's all you're getting [Laughs]."

It's not everyday you see a gun-wielding Captain America on the cover, and on this occasion we see not one, but two of them.

The second art you saw above is illustrated by Ron Garney, whohad a highly acclaimed run on "Captain America" with writer Mark Waid in the late 90s. Together with writer Jason Aaron, Marvel also announced at the NYCC on the upcoming five issue "Ultimate Comics Captain America" miniseries slated to be released in February next year.

It's interesting that I had earlier mentioned the two major "wars" that Captain America missed out and how both of them are coming back to haunt him. In "Ultimate Comics Captain America", Steve Rogers will come face-to-face with the Captain America of Vietnam War. Some brief plot synopsis from Comic Book Resources:

In "Ultimate Comics Captain America" the title character gets involved in stopping a plot to upset the balance of global power in the Ultimate Universe. "Cap gets embroiled in the story to stop the proliferation of Super Soldiers. S.H.I.E.L.D. finds out that suddenly a lot of other countries are starting to develop their own super soldier programs; countries like North Korea and Iraq," Aaron explained. "They're trying to track this proliferation and figure out where these countries are getting their Super Solider Serum. They discover that it actually comes from a man who was the Captain America of the Vietnam War. At some point during the war he dropped off the map; disappeared and apparently switched sides, turning his back on America. Now he's popped up again with an awful big axe to grind."

Both essential reads for fans of Captain America, Astonishing Captain America will be released in Summer while Ultimate Comics Captain America will be released in February next year.


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