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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Jason Latour

The incoming writer of Winter Soldier sets up a new world for Bucky Barnes!

Winter Soldier #15 cover by Declan Shalvey

By Jim Beard

To follow up on Ed Brubaker’s epic WINTER SOLDIER run, you need a well-rounded creator with an excellent resume. Enter writer Jason Latour, who takes on the title beginning with issue #15, out on February 6.

Latour’s worked steadily as an illustrator since his first comic strip back in his college days and more recently at Marvel he’s filled his artistic portfolio with such projects as DAREDEVIL: BLACK & WHITE, WOLVERINE, I AM AN AVENGER, FEAR ITSELF: THE HOMEFRONT and CAPTAIN AMERICA. No stranger to writing, however, he’s also handled the scripting chores on UNTOLD TALES OF THE PUNISHER: MAX and A+X, just to name a few.

As the new writer on WINTER SOLDIER, he’s looking forward to exploring the dangerous world of James Buchanan Barnes and all the colorful characters that inhabit it. We lobbed a few questions his way to give readers an idea of what they’re in for with Latour at the reins.

Marvel.com: Jason, this has got to be a pretty exciting time for you; what about WINTER SOLDIER #15 are you most proud of and why?

Jason Latour: Probably the ambition of it. Hopefully the core of the Winter Soldier that readers love is still recognizable, but we are attempting to take him down some different roads. So I’m very grateful that [artist] Nic Klein, our editor Lauren Sankovitch, and everyone involved has really had had the guts to go for it and try and do just that.

Marvel.com: In the issue, Bucky begins to deal with his past; what does his past mean to him? How much weight does he give it and what are the ramifications if he doesn’t address it?

Winter Soldier #15 preview art by Nic Klein

Jason Latour: Bucky is just like any of us in that, when things are going well, we don't want to think about unpleasant things that may be behind or ahead of us. Whether he realized it or not the last few years have been relatively good times. But now that his past has come back to destroy a significant part of his life, he’s realized there are a lot of things he's, perhaps, selfishly ignored. Potential threats. Things he feels he could have been doing to make doing to make amends. That’s driven him to take up a new personal mission—to do whatever that takes to prevent his past sins from hurting anyone ever again.

That is, of course, easier said than done. So as he flounders to do so, he'll come face to face with a new kind of problem. Something he never saw coming. This time it's not a frozen Soviet or a reincarnated Nazi he's facing. He understands those things. He threw a lot of rocks into the pond in his day and the Electric Ghost is a villain that's grown from one of the ripples he caused. Grown into a full blown tidal wave.

Marvel.com: Speaking of which, what can you tell us about the Electric Ghost, who first appears in WINTER SOLDIER #16?

Jason Latour: She’s definitely not on the side of the powers that be. This is a woman who embodies all of Bucky’s worst fears. A genius level intellect that, as a possible consequence of his actions, has been set on the path to becoming a very dangerous adversary. She has a plan that is very capable of toppling the entire geo-political structure and military-industrial complex of the Marvel Universe. Not only are these the systems that govern and define the world, but they’ve also arguably caused a lot of pain and suffering for most of humanity. Which very much includes the people who do their dirty work. People like Bucky.

So it’s a very complex relationship. Made even more so when S.H.I.E.L.D. is already fighting to keep Bucky on the leash. As for how the Electric Ghost sees their relationship—well, wait and see.

Winter Soldier #15 preview art by Nic Klein

Marvel.com: What do you enjoy most about writing a character like your mysterious Robards? How would you describe his relationship with Bucky?

Jason Latour: There’s a line from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Mother Night” that I feel very much applies to Robards: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” He’s the spy left out in the cold mixed with my love of 1980’s action flicks, or “dad movies.” Robards has been undercover so long that literally everyone but Nick Fury believed him to be on the other side. So he’s developed a very acidic sense of humor that's—along with being a blast to write—his coping mechanism for his horrible, bottomless sadness.

He and Bucky have both been really chewed up by the spy game. So they’re drawn together by the unspoken admission and understanding that the other guy is probably one of the few people on Earth who can understand their pain. The problem is Bucky has a horrible secret that just may have ruined Robards’ life. He feels he owes Robards, but how does he make up for that? Let alone tell the guy.

Marvel.com: You’ll also be unveiling a “school” called the Orphanage—what kind of education would one get there? What makes it unique?

Jason Latour: It's an education in inhumanity. The few kids that survive this place are taught that life is very much a violent numbers game. The reward isn't freedom or riches, it's a skill set. You're not just given a weapon, you become a weapon. That's what it takes just to survive this place. But perhaps what’s most interesting and unique about it is what happens if you do.

Marvel.com: What can readers expect past issue #16? Any other supporting cast members headed our way?

Winter Soldier #15 preview art by Nic Klein

Jason Latour: An aging, nearly out to pasture, get-off-my-damn-lawn, Nick Fury has an important role throughout. Bucky and Steve [Rogers] were much like brothers during World War II, whereas Nick was much older. So Bucky’s recent troubles have brought out a twisted, tough love, paternal side of Fury. He feels he's looking out for Bucky; if that happens to keep him in the spy game, even better.

Marvel.com: So, we might be treated to a Captain America appearance in the near future?

Jason Latour: Not in this arc, but it's definitely something I'd love to be a part of doing down the road. Seems those guys are due some bonding time. Maybe a team up? A scuffle? Or maybe it'll just be [CAPTAIN AMERICA writer Rick] Remender and I cosplaying during a hotdog eating contest/team up on the Fourth of July? All of the above?

Marvel.com: What’s one of the coolest pieces of art that Nic Klein’s delivered recently? Do you find yourself writing specific things in your scripts to play to his strengths?

Jason Latour: There's a bookend sequence in WINTER SOLDIER #16 that is just flat out gorgeous. Those pages are worth the price of admission alone. It's going to sound crazy given how great the work he's doing is, but Nic's potential is still limitless and untapped. So I feel part of my job is to push him, and push myself to come up with scenes that he'll find interesting. He keeps stepping up and making it harder for both us. That's how it should be.

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