Marvel’s renewed focus on some of its lesser0known characters in Marvel NOW! has led to some unexpected breakout stars, including James Bourne, the titular hero of writers Gerry Duggan and Geoffrey Thorne and artist Paco Diaz’s upcoming Solo ongoing title.
Solo has recently appeared as a member of Deadpool & The Mercs For Money, but in October he’s breaking off on his own as a “One Man War On Terror,” taking Marvel’s espionage world by storm in a mission recruited by Dum Dum Dugan.
Newsarama spoke with Duggan and Thorne in advance of Solo #1’s October 12 release to figure out who James Bourne really is, how he came to accept his mission, and how he fits into the larger Marvel Universe.
This article also includes the first look at a Solo #2 variant cover by Mike Hawthorne.
Newsarama: Gerry and Geoffrey, despite previously headlining a limited series in the 90s, Solo is something of an untapped character for Marvel. What can you tell us about who James Bourne is, and his mission?
Geoffrey Thorne: James is basically a small business owner. Killing terrorists makes his conscience feel better but it doesn't pay bills. To do that, he takes jobs as a mercenary. Often those jobs are dangerous. Sometimes they are dangerous and embarrassing. These are those stories.
Gerry Duggan: His mission was vengeance, but now it's to get paid, and also when he can squeeze it in - vengeance.
Nrama: Solo has recently been part of Deadpool & The Mercs For Money. What led to him spinning out into his own ongoing?
Thorne: If I had to guess I'd go with Gerry having compromising photos of senior editorial having something to do with it, but that's just how my mind works.
Duggan: His unique set of skills makes him attractive to Dum Dum Dugan for a non-S.H.I.E.L.D. gig.
Nrama: Solo has been described as the “one man war on terror.” Does he see himself as a superhero? Or is he a soldier?
Thorne: He sees himself as the greatest clandestine operative that has ever lived. Despite considerable evidence (and testimony) to the contrary.
Nrama: Even though he works alone – it’s right there in the name – who are Solo’s supporting cast and allies?
Duggan: Don't want to give too much away, but Geoff cooked up a really fascinating domestic situation for our hero. I mentioned Dum Dum, but should caution - this is not a typical Marvel S.H.I.E.L.D. story
Thorne: For now he has some associates at S.H.I.E.L.D. and an ex-partner he keeps in contact with. Someone must be helping outfit him with gadgets but I'm not sure we're ready to reveal who that someone is.
Nrama: On the flip side of that, who is Solo fighting? Will we see him take on any supervillains?
Duggan: Yes, eventually. Not so much in the first couple of issues. Later arcs for sure.
Thorne: [Laughs] From Solo's point of view he's fighting pretty much everybody. He goes where the jobs are and there are a lot of bad guys in the Marvel Universe who are mostly off the main radar. Someone has to take these people down too.
Nrama: How did the two of you get paired for Solo? What’s the scripting process like for you as a team?
Duggan: I asked for Solo, and I asked for Geoff. He's written a bunch of great scripts and novels, and was on staff on Leverage. I knew he had the perfect sensibility for spies in the Marvel Universe. Geoff and I talked comics for years when I was clerking at Golden Apple. We dissected which comics worked and which didn't while learning to write. Geoff's carrying me on this.
Thorne: Gerry asked me to come on. I said yes because, it's Gerry. We broke out the beats of the first arc together. I do a pass on the script. Gerry does a pass on the script. We chat. The result of that chat is sent to editors Jordan White and Darren Shan. Then they secretly bring in some real writers to make a script Marvel can actually produce. I think this year Quentin Tarantino is the Go-To guy.
Nrama: That's a joke of course, for the people reading at home.
The artist on Solo is Paco Diaz. What does Paco bring to the title and the character that no one else could?
Thorne: Big giant scoops of amazing. Solo has never looked better than he does in this book. Never. Not ever.
Duggan: He's got it all. His characters emote, the action is smooth. He's everything you could want for this book. Paco's carrying Geoff, who's carrying me.
Nrama: By nature, Solo is something of an espionage agent. Will he find himself sucked into that world with S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra and Marvel’s other big spy agencies?
Thorne: Yes. As needed. It's not the primary goal but he does live in that world.
Duggan: Yes, but not in the way that Solo is hoping.
Nrama: What are your long term goals for Solo? What’s his niche in the larger Marvel Universe?
Thorne: My long term goals are to keep him employed and to keep him in one piece. He has a kid to support. I think the fun of the book will be carving out Solo's niche in the Marvel Universe. That I'm not kidding about.
Duggan: To portray a more down to Earth take on the espionage stories that are part of this universe. Comics should be fun and entertaining, and I think we have that in buckets.