Earlier today, Marvel held a "Next Big Thing" press conference call to discuss the just-announced "Winter Soldier" series by Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice. Comic Book Resources was there, live, updating throughout the call.
On hand for the call were Junior Sales Administrator James Viscardi moderating the discussion, Ed Brubaker himself and editor and SVP-Publishing Tom Brevoort.
"We all need to take a moment and congratulate Matt Fraction on 'Fear Itself,'" Brubaker began, noting that it was Marvel's best-selling title of the year.
Speaking about Bucky's return, Brubaker laughed, "I couldn't be happier that I no longer have to keep this a secret." He said that it had been difficult not lying in interviews. "Half the people who were so mad about Bucky dying were the ones who were mad about bringing him back in the first place," he added, "It feels good to have won them over."
He concluded, "Hopefully I'll be able to win them all back."
Brubaker said that the plan had always been to make Bucky Cap then ultimately have him revert to Winter Soldier, "and hopefully get his own series." Originally, the fake death would have happened in the "Gulag" story, but "Fear Itself" "accomplished the same thing" by allowing the Marvel U to believe him dead, "so he can slink back into the shadows as the Winter Soldier."
The revelation that the Russians created other Winter Soldier-like sleeper agents will provide the launching point for the new series.
Brubaker said that he and Butch Guice have been working together for ages, and it's been exciting to see his evolution, especially as he explores the more shadowy, street-level scenes that will be seen in "Winter Soldier." "The look of 'Winter Soldier' will stand out from anything else on the shelf," the writer said.
Brevoort said that, at present, "Bucky's coming back to life is known to maybe three or four people—Cap, Nick, and Black Widow—and it kind of has to stay that way, because otherwise his past catches up with him again." Brevoort added that "this doesn't mean he won't run into people," and his existence also poses problems for Cap if Bucky is found out, "because he knows, and knows that, legally, he shouldn't really be out there."
Brubaker added that Bucky will "have to go on these covert missions without outing himself," and will confront people who "will shit their pants, recognizing him and realizing he's not dead."
The series will feature new villains and "things that are linked to Bucky's history from the Cold War," Brubaker said.
Black Widow will be a part of the "Winter Soldier" series, Brubaker said. "It's a bit like the 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith team," Brubaker said.
Brubaker will mix Marvel history with actual Soviet era history, such as Department X, where mind control experiments were conducted.
Nick Fury is a member of the supporting cast, Brubaker said, though "he won't appear as much as Black Widow." The writer said he is being careful "not to step all over what Jonathan [Hickman] was doing in 'Secret Warriors.'"
Brubaker said that he considers "Winter Soldier" his "ultimate Marvel book," focusing on his favorite characters and topics.
Asked about international threats outside of Cold War legacies, Brubaker said "there will be globetrotting" and noted that "a lot of modern espionage is corporate espionage," adding that there will be multiple threats and multiple kinds of threats.
Though the "Winter Soldier" series will be the more espionage-focused series, "Captain America" will continue to feature many of the hallmarks that made his run a success. "It helps that one has a guy in a dark uniform slinking in the shadows, and the other one is a guy in a brightly colored suit," he said. "They'll stand apart quite nicely."
Brevoort said there are at least two more arcs of "Captain America and Bucky" with direct input from Brubaker, after which he will "consult" on the series.
"I was pretty heavily involved in the second art," Brubaker said of "Cap and Bucky," adding that it changed considerably from writer James Asmus' initial pitch, but "I am not involved in the day-to-day writing scripts."
Asked about taking the Infinity Formula off the table, Brubaker called it a "get out of death free card" and considered it a "one-time use thing." He added that it could later be discovered that "the Infinity Formula stopped working, and you want that on the table." Nick Fury, he noted, has not been seen using it lately, so giving it up isn't a huge loss.
On the subject of Bucky keeping his secret, Brevoort said, "We have to remember that this is someone who, for years, operated in secret doing reprehensible things." He added that Bucky has been "haunted, if not tortured," since he got his memories back and he's now "diving headlong back into that crap."
Guice will not be invoking classic artists' styles as he did on "Captain America," Brubaker said. "He did that because that was part of the tradition of that book," he said, but "Winter Soldier" needs to be its own book, "modern and now."
Brevoort said Guice "is giving the 'Winter Soldier' book its own look," with Brubaker adding that Guice is doing washes and other techniques. "It's hard to describe, but once you see it, you'll say, 'oh!'" Brevoort said.
Bucky, unlike Mockingbird, will not get enhanced powers from the Infinity Formula. "She got an entirely different thing," Brevoort said, noting that Mockingbird's included a version of the Super Soldier Serum and other ingredients.
Brubaker joked that Bucky got "a weaker dose that was also laced with purple acid from Woodstock."
"When Tom and I first talked about this in our initial phone conversations, I don't think either of us could imagine a day when Bucky was embraced as one of the favorite new Marvel characters since Wolverine and Deadpool," Brubaker concluded. "So I just want to thank you."
"Winter Soldier" #1 is on sale in February for $2.99