The Winter Soldier, for pretty much the first time in the character’s history, will be written by someone other than Ed Brubaker as of February 6, 2013. That someone is Jason Latour, the well known artist of Wolverine, Django Unchained & Captain America. Latour was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to discuss how he sees the Winter Soldier, what readers can expect from the upcoming arc, and how being an artist can affect his writing style.
Aaron Long: Let’s start at the beginning: how did you get attached to Winter Soldier, and what drew you to the project?
Jason Latour: Well when my editor, Lauren Sankovitch, approached me it was a bit of a shock, a really pleasant surprise. This character has been synonymous with Ed Brubaker so long, that I didn’t think it would ever be in the cards. But the second it became a possibility, when I heard where Ed was leaving things, I seemed to instantly connect to it. The revenge of insane Russian super soldiers and brainwashed lovers aside, the emotional core of it felt like a situation I know very well. I quickly knew where I felt it should go.
AL: You are the first creator that isn’t named Ed to be the primary writer of Bucky in quite a while…what is your take on the character? What traits define the Winter Soldier in your eyes?
JT: This is a resilient man. Listen, he’s beaten death twice now, been reborn in both a literal and figurative sense. He’s got more comebacks in him than Brett Favre and Frank Sinatra combined. And each time he becomes a little stronger. He evolves. I find there’s a really great ongoing exploration of humanity rooted in that. Nature is literally fighting nurture within and without. He’s endlessly dynamic.
Then there’s his world. The seedy underbelly, of this limitless, 4 color playground. He’s one of the few guys who’s seen the top of that mountain and the pit of that valley. It really gives him an interesting view on all of it and provides unique access to both.
AL: Will your first Winter Soldier arc be following the tone Brubaker set for the book, digging into the Winter Soldier’s past, or are you going to explore different avenues of the character in the next arc?
JT: One of my main goals is to push things forward. As I said, there’s been a cycle to Bucky’s life so far. Cresting highs of heroism, followed by crushing losses. But each time around he’s eventually reached a higher orbit. Prior to “Widow Hunt” he’d seemed to have reached a point where he’d transcended a lot of the things in his past. He’d found a life partner and a purpose. He was beginning to find himself.
“Widow Hunt” unravelled a lot of that. Arguably leaving him at a new low point. So now the question is, how does he find the path upward? How does he push toward being an even stronger Bucky Barnes? What will that take? What will it mean? That’s something this character is going to be struggling with. It certainly won’t be easy, or happen overnight. There’s a lot of skeletons that have escaped from his closet. But ultimately he’s going to be resigned to it.
AL: The Winter Soldier has been surrounded by a very small cast of characters in the title so far. Will the cast be expanding during your arc?
JT: It will remain pretty intimate, but with a few new faces. Center of it all will be a new villain by the name of The Electric Ghost. Now that he’s re-focused on threats he’s aware of, or foreseen, here comes something different. Not an old spymaster or unfrozen Nazi Super Soldier. The Electric Ghost is what grows in the rubble of those battles. The stones Bucky tossed into the pond as the Winter Soldier caused a lot of ripples, and she’s one that’s grown into a full blown tidal wave.
We’ll also be introducing a man by the name of Robards. He’s kind of the spy left out in the cold. A S.H.I.E.L.D. double agent, left uncover so long that everyone but Fury has long thought him to be on the other side. He has a very sordid, tangled past with Bucky and the Electric Ghost that will become even more twisted as he rides shotgun on Bucky’s new mission. Toss in a cagey, hopped up on Meta-meusel, Nick Fury and it nearly writes itself.
AL: You are well known for your work as an artist. Do you feel your background impacts you as a writer? Are you visualizing how you would pencil particular panels as you write?
JT: It definitely doesn’t hurt. They’re so intertwined, I feel like an understanding of comics is an understanding of both disciplines. It helps to know what an artists needs, and gives me a lot of empathy for what it feels like to spend your time hunched over a drafting board. I don’t know. Maybe ask Nic Klein. He might tell you it’s forged me into a sadistic troll who fears his own name and demands the flesh of first born babes in exchange for his precious, precious golden straw. Toe may toe, Toe mah toe.
I’m really confident having read this interview. Sounds like Latour is evolving the character whilst retaining the book’s integrity. Plus the supporting characters sound suitably quirky. Big shoes to fill but now I am optimistic