Latour Takes on WINTER SOLDIER's Mission After Brubaker

Ed Brubaker is leaving Winter Soldier, starring former Captain America sidekick-turned-brainwashed Soviet assassin-turned-superhero-turned-superspy, Bucky Barnes. That news means he's also leaving work-for-hire comics at Marvel (for now, at least) and the character he brought back from the dead eight years ago. But, as announced Friday at Fan Expo in Toronto, the series is continuing — not entirely surprising given that the 2014 Captain America movie sequel is subtitled "The Winter Soldier." New writer Jason Latour (12 Gauge's Loose Ends, Untold Tales of Punisher MAX) is at the helm as of February's Winter Soldier #15, with no artist yet announced for his run. Newsarama talked with Latour about following Brubaker on the series, the new adversary set to vex Bucky, and what kind of stories he's looking to tell in Winter Soldier.

 

Newsarama: Jason, congratulations on the news, and let's start the obvious question — what's it like taking on Winter Soldier, a character that's been so closely associated with Ed Brubaker over the past eight years or so? And it's still early in the process, I'm sure, but have you picked his brain at all about the character?

Jason Latour: Well, as I re-read Brubaker’s work on the character in preparation, it's really staggering how firm the foundations he built are. If I stand any chance of pulling this off it'll no doubt be because I'm being handed the keys to such a great ride.

We haven’t talked personally yet, because Ed’s a busy guy, but our editor Lauren Sankovitch has done a nice job keeping us on the same page. He’s left some really big shoes, but I’m looking forward to stomping around in them.

Nrama: And on that note, is the impulse to keep things in a similar vein to what Brubaker has been doing, or to go in a different direction, and put more of your own stamp on things? Or is it somewhere in the middle?

Latour: Well — for a character that’s technically been around for seventy years or so — Bucky is sort of exceptional in that Brubaker’s run is the definitive run. If it were say, Thor, you’d be able to point back and sort of see a history of different versions and takes. So it’s new territory in that regard.

Winter Soldier

#13 cover.

Ed basically treated Bucky as a creator-owned character and the book was all the better for it. I’m kind of taking the same approach in that I’m trying to really invest myself into this book. So the familiar, crucial elements of what’s been established will be there — but in order for me to invest fully we’ll have to use those to springboard into new directions.

Nrama: For you personally, what's attractive to you about Bucky as a character? And what sides of his personality are you looking to explore in your run?

Latour: When you look at Bucky I think it’s kind of easy to summarize him as a man dealing with two possibly irreconcilable sides of his nature: The superhero and the assassin. But what essentially formed him into a superhero is that he was trained from a very early age to be a soldier and a killer. So the makings of the Winter Soldier were there all along. If he doesn’t end up lost, the atrocities he committed for the Soviets could have very likely been things he committed for the U.S.

When Cap fixed Bucky’s mind with the Cosmic Cube, it’s telling that he used the phrase “Remember who you are.” Cap may have believed or hoped he was giving Bucky a clean slate and returning him to the boy scout he wanted him to be — but the Winter Soldier wasn’t wiped away. It’s a part of him.

So just where and when does Bucky Barnes end and the Winter Soldier begin? There may not be an answer to that question — and if there is it might be very ugly — but it’s one we’re going to be looking for.

Nrama: You've worked a great deal as an artist for Marvel, and written a Punisher MAX story, but this is, I believe, your first writing credit in the "Marvel Universe" proper. How exciting is it for you to get to, as is often said, play in that "sandbox" for the first time? How big of a benchmark is it for you as a writer?

Latour: It’s very exciting. As a kid, I often dreamed about writing a Marvel comic and I think this is the kind of book that really scratches that itch. I have so many ideas, I could easily do it for a long time. The feedback we’ve gotten for stuff like Loose Ends has been so gratifying that I don’t think anything will ever top that experience — but the fun I’m having doing this so far-- it’s like having your imagination unshackled.

Nrama: On that note, are you gravitating more towards writing at this point in your career, or are you still focused on art, as well?

Latour: I don’t foresee my desire to draw waning, it’s just that where and when I do it may morph. I’ve always been kind of an odd duck in that I bounce around and do all the different jobs in different places and at present I’m lucky to have a great gig drawing Mignola-verse stuff for Dark Horse. As hard as it is to sit at a table and grind — that’s where my creativity lives and breathes. It’s a horrible masochistic sickness really.

Nrama: It looks like your first arc will introduce a new villain that might not be entirely new to Bucky — what, if anything, can you share about the character at this point?

Latour: She’s, hopefully, a new take on The Winter Soldier’s rogues gallery in the sense that she’s the first indirect casualty of his actions. She has a very personal connection to Bucky, but her plans are grand. The scale of which are probably only equal to the pain she’ll cause Bucky.

Winter Soldier

#12 cover.

Nrama: And though the Winter Soldier is isolated by nature of his status quo at this point in time, do you have plans involving any other familiar Marvel faces?

Latour: I’m trying my damndest to get approval to put Bucky on the pro arm wrestling circuit — big rigging it with US1 — facing Cable in the big tournament championship.

No, seriously — at the moment the plan is to take him deeper into the shadows. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see some familiar faces while we’re down there.

Nrama: Winter Soldier is a different kind of book than most Marvel fare, with a focus on espionage over superheroics. What types of stories are you looking to tell in the book?

Latour: The great thing about this character is that he is both those things and the mix of that creates something potentially new and  interesting. This isn’t going to just be nameless henchmen in Hydra masks. James Bond isn’t big enough for Bucky’s world — and in my own odd way I’m planning to take full advantage of the Marvel U to prove that.

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