Marvel's 'Winter Soldier' Comic Book Goes Cosmic
It's bigger than the Cold War
If the announcement of Marvel Entertainment's forthcoming Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier comic book series seemed like a no-brainer after the success of this spring's Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie, it should be pointed out that the movie's 1970s political thriller vibe isn't necessarily a good primer for what to expect from the comic. Instead, readers should think bigger.
"Winter Soldier is Marco Rudy and I doing the Marvel Universe at a galactic scope," writer Ales Kot tells THR about the series, which launches this October. "It's us looking around ourselves, into ourselves, exploring and experiencing the inner and outer space, imagining new planets and solar systems, imagining the Marvel Universe 200 years from now, imagining black holes turning into white holes, seeing Asgard and Limbo and the underwater kingdoms, contemplating Stephen Hawking and Jim Steranko and the best S.F. poetry, the kind Philip K. Dick and Paul Verhoeven made."
The shift in tone, perspective and scale result from the Original Sin event currently running through Marvel's comics, which bring Bucky Barnes out of the cold and onto a far larger stage than he'd ever dreamed of.
"He's trained as an assassin, someone who operates in the shadows, and now he's taking over from Nick Fury as the man on the wall, a man who is supposed to guard the Earth from all the danger in the galaxy," Kot explains, describing the character's new position as "interesting, because it posits that the galaxy is perhaps inherently a dangerous place, and that's a belief I don't subscribe to. So having that thematic clash and reconciling it into a story that will be true to me is a wonderful challenge."
Kot says that his approach to the series is "a combination of Bucky's missions, with a riff on 'Ghost of Christmas Past.' Everything Bucky's done up until this point, and in some ways perhaps even more, makes him the person he is now. He travels across the galaxy with Daisy Johnson, an ex-SHIELD director on the run, and explores the universe while changing."
Integral to the series, in Kot's eyes, is artist Marco Rudy. "I always need to work with people who inspire me and who share a certain aim toward bravery of the spirit," he says. "I can only invent in a team when working with collaborators who are interested in doing the same. Marco is exactly that. He's educated in the art form, he switches styles as he pleases, he pushes himself into the new. The way he mixes media and paints the pages, the way he reinterprets what I write so I have to rewrite after ... I adore all of it. I am having a blast."
For Kot, Winter Soldier is "the final piece" of a conceptual trilogy with his critically acclaimed Image Comics series Zero and his other Marvel book, Secret Avengers. "I am interested in exploring what it takes to shed the old and embrace the new, and how we navigate such acts. I am interested in memory and in anxiety mechanisms — after all, the core belief of 'The universe is out to get us' is precisely that," he explained, calling Zero and Secret Avengers explorations of "the effects of war, violence, even the war on terror, and they explore the belief mechanics as well. A case could be made for Secret Avengers being the farce to the tragedy of Zero, at least at this stage of their stories."
Fans of the Winter Soldier can expect something unexpected and transformational from the new series, it seems (The first issue is titled, in a nod to Philip K. Dick, "The Transmogrification of Bucky Barnes"). Kot is aware of what a Winter Soldier series might have suggested to some, saying "The darkness is inherent to the character, but we push through it." But push through where, exactly? "Across the universe," he teases. "It's time to expand."