In the aftermath of Marvel Comics' recent Secret Empire series a number of heroes are mourning the loss of Soviet spy turned superhero and S.H.I.E.L.D agent Natasha Romanoff (AKA the Black Widow) who was killed in the event series by a Cosmic Cube altered Captain America. The two most grief stricken of that group are bound to be the Widow's former flames: Bucky Barnes (AKA the Winter Soldier) and Clint Barton (AKA Hawkeye). This winter, the disparate heroes shared sorrow will lead them to join forces and embark on a globetrotting investigation into the mysterious legacy of the women they both loved.
It all happens in “Red Ledger,” a five issue Marvel Legacy series written by Matthew Rosenberg that will unfold in the pages of the classic Tales of Suspense series, which will be revived this December with issue #100. CBR spoke exclusively with Rosenberg about his take on his protagonists, how they're handling their grief, the adventure they'll embark on together, and The Odd Couple style dynamic between them.
CBR: So Matthew, with Tales of Suspense #100 "Red Ledger" you're keeping true to the titular series by focusing on two specific characters, Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier. What's your sense of your protagonists and their initial perceptions of each other before this series begins? They have had many similar experiences, but are they necessarily friends and comrades?
Matthew Rosenberg: Yeah, we're keeping true by picking up right where Tales Of Suspense #99 left off in 1968! (That's a joke.)
But seriously, yes, we are following Hawkeye and Bucky as they try to unravel a mystery around Natasha's death. It's equal parts spy book and team-up, with some crazy superheroics thrown in for good measure. I think what makes the book fun is putting the two of them together because, no, they aren't really friends. Both are men who have seen and done some tough things, done their time as villains, but how they came out of that is where they differ. Hawkeye is fun and nonchalant about everything, perhaps covering for things, but very easy going. And Bucky is very intense and focused. And their differences spread to what they think is happening and how to approach it. They don't particularly work well together and they don't particularly like each other, but they both love Natasha and want to honor her memory.
How are your protagonists handling their grief when “Red Ledger” begins?
How they process this is a big thing. They are both seemingly stuck in difference stages of grieving. Hawkeye is almost in denial. He wants so bad for Natasha to still be alive, he's holding out hope, even when he knows there is none. And Bucky is just angry. He is out for answers and is ready to bust heads and shoot some people to get them. The funny thing is Hawkeye's hope and Bucky's anger is what brings them together and also makes their working together so difficult. They can't find common ground even on the things that are most important to them.
What else can you tell us about the mystery Hawkeye and Bucky are looking to uncover?
Enemies of Natasha are ending up dead. After Secret Empire a lot of people in Hydra have decided to go to ground and are trying to resume having normal lives. But someone is hunting them down and killing them. And the way the assassinations are happening, and who the targets are, make both Clint and Bucky think that somehow it's old scores of Natasha's that are being settled. But who and why is the big mystery, and the closer they get the more dangerous it becomes.