We didn't think it could work, but it did: not only did writer Ed Brubaker bring back Captain America's dead partner Bucky, he made him into a unique character with an avid fan base that's only grown over the years. Now, for the first time, someone else is writing the ongoing adventures of James Barnes... Starting with February's issue #15, artist Jason Latour is taking over the writing duties for the title. Nope, you didn't read that wrong. Latour, probably best known for his art on Scalped and BPRD has written a few stories here and there, but is jumping into writing the ongoing Winter Soldier series. To find out why he made the move, and what new dangers lurk in wait for the Buckster, read on:
MTV Geek: To kick things off, you're probably getting this from everyone, but going from mostly art to writing an ongoing series full time is a huge step. Why make the transition, and what's it like coming aboard Winter Soldier full time?
Jason Latour: Well, I’ve always planned on writing more. It’s a very creatively fulfilling process. I enjoy generating ideas. I enjoy the collaboration. I enjoy the challenge. I’m lucky in that I still have a GREAT gig drawing Mignola-verse stuff for Darkhorse. I haven’t really known the experience of exclusively being a writer. Drawing is a compulsion of mine, so it’s likely I never will. There are stories in my head that I feel can only become whole if I sit down and draw them. But I do feel like if it itches you should scratch it. Winter Soldier is one of those concepts that just lights my imagination on fire. That’s a priceless feeling, and being lucky enough to get to actually make it real-- that’s not something I take lightly. So I’m diving into it with both feet and I hope people will enjoy it as much as I plan to.
Geek: And not to keep pushing this angle, but stepping into Ed Brubaker's shoes on a character he created is, I imagine, pretty daunting. Have you been doing a lot of crunches and wearing jaunty hats to get into Fighting Brubaker Shape?
JL: Y’know I’m that stereotypical bald, bearded comics creator and for a while I used to wear jaunty hats, but Ed is so much more popular than I am and he’s got seniority. So I’ll just have to concede those to him. Jason Aaron has kind of thrown out the red corvette mid-life crisis of beards so that’s ruined for me too. Hell, come to think of it he’s ruining being Southern. I guess I need a new gimmick-- like whacky ties or something.
Honestly, I respect Ed Brubaker to a great degree. He’s really written the book on how to walk the line between work for hire and being a true honest to God artist. The work he’s done on this character has built such a strong foundation, that if I pull this off there is no way it won’t owe a debt to him.
But all that said, I have no problem following Elvis, if nothing else I’m aiming to blow a few speakers.
Geek: So what's your take on Bucky? What makes him unique as a character?
JL: At first glance Bucky is a man struggling with what seems like a dual, warring nature. Hero and Killer. It’s easy to forget that he earned his stripes as a super hero by being such a proficient student of warfare. The U.S. government trained him to be a soldier and a killer from an early age. The makings of the Winter Soldier were there all along. So all those awful things he did for the Soviets, if circumstances play out a little differently who’s to say he wouldn’t have committed those atrocities for the U.S.?
So what exactly is the line? Where and when does Bucky Barnes the hero end and the Winter Soldier begin? Does he even want to know? Those are questions that I find very interesting and very relevant.
Geek: I realize the comics and movies are different divisions, and often there's a lot of guessing involved; but given the upcoming Winter Soldier story in Cap 2, is there any thought to trying to match things up wherever possible? Or is that not on your radar?
JL: Well, I’m a cartoonist and as much as I love movies, and I really do, comics are my deepest, greatest love. So I’m going to try and give folks a few bucks worth of what I find so damned compelling and energizing about this medium every month. As exciting as that movie coming down the pipe is, it isn’t exactly in my purview at the moment. But I really did like Sebastian Stan as Bucky in the Cap movie. He was probably my favorite part. He had a really intense thousand yard stare.
Geek: How about the idea of the arc? Not that Bucky hasn't been without a safety net before, but it sounds like he's going to be in even deeper than usual?
JL: Recently Bucky’s past has come home to roost in very disturbing and destructive ways. It’s left him feeling very powerless and very responsible. When Cap fixed his mind with the Cosmic Cube, it’s telling that he used the phrase “Remember who you are.” That didn’t just turn him back into the newsreel “Get them Ratzis” Bucky- All the awful deeds of the Winter Soldier are still there, just rattling around in his skull like a never ending echo. It’s something he’s really never accepted, and working for SHIELD and being Cap-- those were all ways of trying to sort of drown those memories out.
So when we begin, he’s finally been pushed to a place where he feels he has to face that past, in order to move forward. The people he loves keep getting hurt, and he’s trying to really self examine and see how much of that is him, how much of it is his old habits. Who he works for being one of them. But it will also lead him to digging around in his own past-- looking to make amends. The problem being that he’s probably far too late.
Geek: You're also introducing a new villain here... Any hints on what to expect?
JL: She’s, hopefully, a new spin on Bucky’s rogues gallery in that she’s the first indirect casualty of his actions. Her plans are on a larger scale than revenge. She’s something he should have seen coming, maybe he did but chose to ignore it, and she’ll send him scrambling to try and put the lid back on the chaos she’s let out.
Geek: Any final thoughts? Things to get people desperate to check out the book?
JL: The great thing about this character is that he is all the things you love about Marvel comics but he’s also completely autonomous and unique. You can dive into this book without a whole lot of strings attached and still you don’t lose that sense of scale or the access to all those amazing concepts and ideas. He’s a window into the dark corners of that universe. James Bond isn’t big enough for Bucky’s world-- and in my own crazy way I’m planning to try and prove that.
Jason Latour takes over in Winter Soldier #15, this February from Marvel Comics.