To say comic book writer Ed Brubaker -- half of the creative team behind popular crime comic "Criminal," writer of "Captain America," restorer of Bucky to the Marvel Comics universe and one of the main architects of the upcoming "Avengers Vs. X-Men" event -- is a busy man would be an understatement.
"I've got way too much work to do!" laughed Brubaker, speaking from the House Of Secrets comic book shop in Burbank, California where the author was promoting his most recent crime series, "Fatale." Discussing his Marvel work with CBR, Brubaker cheerfully admitted his hectic writing schedule would not be abating anytime soon, especially when it came to his work on the ongoing "Captain America" series.
"I think we're going to be putting out eighteen issues this year or something," Brubaker said. With his latest arc in "Captain America" soon ending, Brubaker hinted at things to come for the star-spangled Avenger, revealing that seemingly forgotten events in one of his earlier subplots would begin to make their way to the forefront of the book.
"There's a thread that stays unresolved in the second arc that actually leads into the third arc, but nobody will realize it when they're reading it. It seems like this one-off subplot in the fifth or fourth issue that we never get back to, but it's actually the most important thing because the entire next arc after it is all about that," Brubaker said.
The writer also teased the entrance of new characters and said he had plans to re-introduce a "classic Cap villain" as well as bring back one of Captain America's old flames.
"We're going to see one of Cap's old girlfriends who I've never written in the book, but who a lot of fans have been screaming at me about for seven years. So, it was like, 'Alright, fine, I'll do it!'" joked Brubaker. "I finally had a way to bring her into the book that made sense, so there will be some good stuff for classic Cap fans, but it will still feel like my book: still basically a crime comic with a guy with a flag and a giant shield."
Outside of plot and character details, Brubaker said he was excited to work with artist Alan Davis on "Captain America," enthusiastically labeling himself a "huge fan" of the artist's work since high school.
"I asked for him at some point and [the editors] said we couldn't get him. Then they were like, 'Maybe if you write to him and ask him,'" Brubaker said, recalling how Davis first came onboard. "So I wrote to him and said, 'Please do the book. I don't know if you've seen my work but it's more like Jim Steranko espionage stuff,' and he wrote back, 'Eh, it doesn't really sound like it's up my alley,' -- and then he took the job anyway!" laughed Brubaker.
The writer then praised Davis' work on the series, naming the veteran artist a "total pro."
"What I learned early on is that if you write a hardcore riot scene, Alan Davis will not only draw every person in the riot but he'll draw a story within it. He's a writer too, so he doesn't skimp on the details," Brubaker said, continuing, "And then he knocks it out of the park. He's still at the top of his game!"
Talk about "Captain America" naturally led to discussing last year's Marvel Studios movie -- especially since "Captain America: The First Avenger" screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, as well as director Joe Johnston, had vocally named Brubaker's modern run on the character as inspiration for their cinematic version.
"I met them at the after party and they were just the greatest. I mean, Joe Johnston was really nice to me," recalled Brubaker. "He was on Howard Stern talking about how he wanted to do 'Winter Soldier' and that was amazing."
In fact, Brubaker attributed the film's portrayal of Bucky as a factor in bringing "Winter Soldier" back as a comic.
"Part of the reason we're doing the 'Winter Soldier' comic is that those guys talked so much about 'Winter Soldier' in their interviews. I think we would have always ended up doing one eventually because he's probably Marvel's most popular character since Wolverine and Deadpool, but them putting Bucky in the movie and making him my version of Bucky [helped]," explained Brubaker.
With a sudden grin, the writer confessed he was so excited to see his version of Bucky on screen, he could not contain himself at the "Captain America" debut showing. "We were at the premiere and there was that moment where you see the sniper scope over Cap, and then it goes up to the Hydra guy. Then, it cuts to Bucky with the sniper rifle and I went 'Woo!'" laughed Brubaker. "I talked to them afterwards and I said, "I was the guy who wooed at the sniper rifle shot,' and they were like, 'Yeah, we know.'"
Brubaker also got a chance to speak with Bucky actor Sebastian Stan and expressed his hope for a Bucky-centric movie in the near future.
"A 'Winter Soldier' movie would be awesome. To know that they took my favorite character as a kid who got killed off -- I got so angry when I found out that there was no comic where Bucky died when I was like eight. I just assumed there was an issue #99 where Cap and Bucky get captured by like Zemo and then died," Brubaker said, continuing with a laugh, "I was like, wait there's no comic like that? You just made that up afterwards? This is bullshit, we're going to bring him back!
"I've been wanting to bring Bucky back since I was eight or nine years old. I got to bring him back and turn him into a new character who is Marvel's most popular character since Wolverine, which is crazy," Brubaker added.
Speaking about the actual look of the book, which is drawn by artist Butch Guice, Brubaker promised while the story would be in keeping with his Cold War espionage take, visually it will be one of the "most different looking Marvel books on the stands."
"I keep telling people it's more like 'Modesty Blaise' or like 'Thirteen' or like these really popular European comics, but also like 'Mission Impossible' and 'Splinter Cell.' It's got some hard-core dark espionage craziness, but also you turn the page and there's something that clearly goes, 'Oh, that's a Doombot!' Something that clues you in this is Marvel," Brubaker said.
Beyond his Captain America work, Brubaker is also one of the architects of April's "Avengers Vs. X-Men" event, something the writer stated had been in the works for nearly a year.
"I barely think about it at this point because we're so endgame on that already, which is crazy since it hasn't even started yet," Brubaker said. "We're all friends, and Jason [Aaron] and Brian [Bendis] and all of us had a bunch of meetings and plotted out the basic idea of it. Then Jason and Brian wrote the outline, which is constantly evolving and we're constantly giving input."
Explaining each creator involved was able to change parts of the outline to fit their issue while keeping the underlying framework, Brubaker acknowledged the level of collaborative work was a new experience for him.
"It's different; I prefer to do my own thing usually, so it's been interesting, and thank God we're all such good friends or we'd all kill each other over it!" joked Brubaker.
Speaking to the unique format of the story, in which each issue of the event is written by a different writer, Brubaker stated while the chance to tell a story in that way appealed to him, the biggest concern he and the other architects had was the scheduling.
"There's a crazy amount of pre-production on that because it needs to come out every two weeks. These guys are some of the biggest artists so they need their scripts and they need to be far ahead so we're not missing shipping on a single issue of that," Brubaker said.
The writer also saw the event as the official creative beginning of Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso's tenure at Marvel. "I've been saying to people, Axel's been editor-in-chief for a year, but Axel came in and there was already all this stuff in the works and he couldn't really rip up all the tracks and put his stamp down. 'Avengers Vs. X-Men' is really the beginning of Axel being Editor-In-Chief," Brubaker said.
Although Alonso hinted a future Watcher story by Brubaker following his work on the "Point One" one-shot, the writer declined to comment on the possibility. However, he mentioned fans would be excited for what's next for the Marvel U.
"The stuff that's going to come after ["Avengers Vs. X-Men"] is going to blow people away!" Brubaker enthusiastically stated.
Despite all the projects in the works, Brubaker admitted he'd be fine with taking it a little easier for now. "It's 'Fatale' for the next year, year and a half, 'Captain America,' 'Winter Soldier,' and that's really my main focus comic books wise, and then the ['Criminal'] film and stuff that's outside comics -- but those will be my three main comics for the next year, and then my portions of 'Avengers X-Men' and that's it!" Brubaker said.
"God forbid I accept anything else. I don't have time to do it!" the writer added with a laugh.
"Captain America" #8 hits stores February 8; "Winter Soldier" #1 releases February 1; "Avengers Vs. X-Men" is currently slated for April.