EXCLUSIVE: Nic Klein Takes Aim at the "Winter Soldier"

Good and evil routinely clash in the Marvel Universe, but that in no way means characters' allegiances to either side remain static. Sometimes villains can come to see the world in a new light and fight for redemption even as a hero loses faith in what they're fighting for. Or, in the case of Captain America's World War II partner James "Bucky" Barnes, they might be brainwashed into a vicious assassin.

In the final days of the largest global conflict the world has ever seen, Barnes was transformed by agents of the Soviet Union into the cybernetic assassin known as the Winter Soldier. Over half a century later, a chance encounter with his former partner restored Bucky's personality, and since then he's been fighting to atone for the acts he committed while under the control of others. At first, Barnes' briefly served as Captain America while Steve Rogers was believed dead. Now, he continues to attempt to repair the damage he inflicted on the world by conducting clandestine espionage operations in his old identity of the Winter Soldier.

This February, Bucky's days as an assassin will come back to haunt him in a way that leave him questioning his violent past when writer Jason Latour ("Loose Ends," "Untold Tales of the Punisher MAX") begins his run on Marvel's "Winter Soldier" series. Joining Latour is artist Nic Klein, who is no stranger to espionage stories having just wrapped up wrapped work on the acclaimed Image Comics series "Dancer." We spoke with Klein about his upcoming stint illustrating the clandestine side of the Marvel U.

CBR News : Nic, by taking over "Winter Soldier" you're moving from one action/espionage book to another. Is this a coincidence or do you really enjoy working on those types of stories?

Nic Klein: I do like the genre, even outside of comics, but this is more of a coincidence. I think Jason and our editor Lauren Sankovitch were kind of hesitant to ask because I just finished a spy book and they weren't sure if I wanted to do something that kind of goes in the same direction on another project right after. From what I've seen, though, "Winter Soldier" is not going to be a spy book like "Dancer." There's lot of other stuff going on

What was it about the pitch that made you accept the "Winter Soldier" assignment?

It was Jason's writing, because he's an artist himself, and quite a great artist as well. Jason has a great visual mind. He writes some cool stuff that's fun to draw.

I think artists who write maybe have a better understanding of what to give an artist to draw because they come from a visual background themselves. I've been lucky because all the writers I've had so far have actually been really good at this, even if they aren't artists. I have heard horror stories of writers who just write the craziest things on a page with no regard for what is actually possible or not.

Which aspects of the Winter Soldier do you really want to capture and bring forward in your art?

To be honest, I'm still getting acquainted with the character. In this arc, we pick up with Bucky after a lot of things have happened. He's not really in hiding; he's kind of down and out and trying to figure out who he is. So he's not really a shiny super hero -- he's more of a down in the dirt kind of guy, and that's what my take on the character feels like.

He's a fun character to draw, too. This is the first time I've actually drawn a bionic arc in comics, which is kind of cool because I grew up on the '90s [MArc] Silvestri "Cyberforce" stuff, and that was just full of bionic arms.

Bucky inhabits an interesting and mostly unexplored corner of the Marvel Universe. How does it feel to bring this clandestine world of shadowy spies and fantastic technology to life?

It's fun. I do like the darker characters more than the bright, shiny characters. That's a trait that a lot of people seem to have. Darker characters always seem to have a bigger fan base.

In our first issue, there's some cool James Bond-style high-tech stuff. I wouldn't say it's too far out there. It is if you're speaking realistically, but it's nothing that pop culture consumers of today will have trouble believing.

There's darkness, but there's also high tech stuff. I think it really keeps up with the tone and style that writer Ed Brubaker established during his run.

When we talked with Jason, he told us he'd be introducing two new characters into Bucky's world, an ally and an enemy. Are you the one designing these characters?

When Jason came up with both those characters, he did some designs. I might expand on those or make them my own in certain ways. I haven't sat down to do that yet, but they are pretty cool. I don't know how much I would actually have to change.

There's always a bit of making something your own in your own style. Some artists are always finding nuances they can change. People don't often know this, because they usually don't see character designs unless they're included in the back of trades.

We've talked about the world of the book and some of the characters that inhabit it. Let's conclude by talking about the overall look you want to bring to the "Winter Soldier." Have you begun to think about how you're going to bring this book to life?

I just got the designs that Jason did, and the script, so I'm still in the early stages, but I think I'll keep the book a little bit darker. Bucky goes through some pretty intense moments in the first script, so I'll probably try and keep things moody. I like that type of feel and I think it fits the story.

Jason Latour and Nic Klein's first "Winter Soldier" arc debuts with February's issue #15.

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