The Patriot is only going to look familiar to a handful of readers, I wager. A former member of the Liberty Legion, a WWII team created by Roy Thomas in the pages of Marvel Premiere, Mace is a Golden Age hero from the 40’s much like Captain America, Bucky, Namor, the Human Torch and many others. A tough as nails reporter inspired by the newsreel footage of Cap’s exploits, he donned a colorful costume and fought the Nazi menace on the home front while the Invaders took the battle to the enemy.
When Stan Lee got the wild idea to bring Captain America to the swinging 60’s, he dreamed up an idea that froze Cap in his 1940’s self, making him a ‘man out of time’ when he rejoined the land of the living. Unfortunately, Stan overlooked a number of comic appearances that the shield slinger had given in the intervening years during the character’s cryogenic slumber. In later years, after the development of Roy Thomas’ Invaders series, it was explained that a number of devoted heroes wore the Captain America costume in the hero’s absence. Jeff Mace was revealed as the second Captain America, but not much of his story has ever been told… until now.
This autumn, Karl Kesel and Mitch Breitweiser will explore the unknown story of Jeff Mace, Patriot and Captain America.
Kesel gave an interview at ComicBookResources.com in which he explained his pitch.
CBR News: When exactly does your story take place? Is it right after World War II?
Karl Kesel: The majority of it. Jeff Mace became the Patriot because he was inspired by Captain America, so, we do start there. We start with his origin, which as far as I can tell has never been told before. Even in the old Golden Age stories – the ones I’ve seen, I can’t say I’ve read all of them – they refer to him being inspired by Captain America, but I don’t think there’s ever been an origin story. So, we finally show his origin story; what exactly inspires him, and how did he meet Captain America, and where his name came from and all of that. Then very quickly from there, we fast forward to the point where he is asked to take over the Captain America name and uniform. The majority of the miniseries is him in that uniform and the highs and lows that it brings in his life.
CBR News: Obviously, you can’t go into how exactly he was inspired by Captain America, as that would give away the whole thing. But when you look at the original creation of Captain America, he was created to be a inspiration for young men to join up in the army and to instill a certain level of patriotism. Are you drawing on any of that when exploring Jeff’s origins?
I can’t say that I’ve thought about it like you’ve just thought about it, but what you’re saying sticks with the way I’ve been approaching it. Jeff Mace is a reporter for the Daily Bugle, and he does have a discussion with his editor about how damn inspirational Cap is to everyone and how he is too big for the printed page and all of that. So, I mean, a lot of what you were saying is in the background and in the subtext of what’s going on.
You mentioned Namor and the Torch being in the book. Are there any other characters we’ll be seeing? When it comes to the All-Winners Squad, we’ve got people like Miss Patriot and Golden Girl, who is Mace’s future wife…
Yeah. Golden Girl, obviously we’re going to see a lot of her – probably more of her here than she’s seen anywhere else. So, yeah. Golden Girl plays an important role in the story, definitely. We also see that there is, of course, a Bucky at this time. Fred Davis it the second Bucky, and the interesting thing about that relationship is that Fred has been Bucky longer than Jeff has been Cap. So, Fred kind of thinks that the team should be referred to as ‘Bucky and Captain America.’ Really, there are a few times he saves Jeff’s ass on a number of levels. Jeff doesn’t know about Cap’s history, and when you’re trying to pretend you’re a guy that you’re not, there are one or two times that Jeff starts to put his foot in his mouth and Bucky is like, ‘Hey Cap! Why don’t we go away, right now?’ So, Bucky is watching out for Jeff, and there is a certain amount of resentment there. He’s pulling more of his weight, and yet all the spotlight is still on Cap, isn’t it?
We talked about Mitch earlier. His art is simply stunning, but what is it about his style that compliments the tone of this story specifically?
I think Mitch is just such a phenomenal talent. I’m very lucky that he agreed to do this project. Every page that I have seen from Mitch has just been knockout gorgeous, and dynamic and compelling. Every time I get a page from him, it’s like a Christmas present I get to open up. His stuff just has this wonderful sense of reality to it that just helps this story a lot. I like to think it was a good script when I wrote it, but what Mitch brought to it helped root it in the real world. His hero costumes are not really skin tight. They’ve got folds. It bags around the neck. I actually really, really like that about it. It just makes it seem more tangible, more solid. When he draws a building under construction, he’s got every rivet in there. It’s astounding. I just can’t say enough good things about him. He draws a really great Captain America. He also draws some great women. His Golden Girl, I don’t think she’s ever looked this good. I just loves that he gets the hairstyles and the fashion of the period right. We spend some time with the Patriot’s supporting cast. One is a gal named Mary Morgan, and Mary Morgan is actually a pretty big supporting character in the miniseries. His Mary Morgan is wonderful.
… it’s very interesting that you got a Captain America with no military background. I think it’s very interesting that you’ve got a Captain America with no super powers. I think it’s very interesting that you’ve got a symbol for America who is built to fight a war and there’s no war. You’re in the Cold War world. It’s a very different world – McCarthyism, Red Scare, Communism. How does Captain America fit into that world? (full article here)
In the mid 70’s, Roy Thomas was given free reign to revive several heroes that had not been spoken off in decades, creating a long legacy of super-heroism dating back to the birth of Timely Comics. It’s great that Marvel Comics is delving into its roots in books like this, the recent Torch comic and the still unfinished Twelve. I hope that we see more projects showcasing these forgotten characters from a bygone age.