Brubaker explains why he’s leaving the book and talks about Captain America 2 some, as well as his final arcs on the title, but I’ll splice to the relevant-for-this-blog bits:
In the meantime, “Winter Soldier” readers can still look forward to his final two arcs which continue the “Broken Arrow” theme of the Black Widow’s reverting to her brainwashed espionage origins. “One of the reasons I thought she and Bucky made sense together was that they both have that brainwashed aspect, and I also thought it was a clever way to integrate her preexisting continuity as the femme fatale/fake ballerina,” he explained. “I really wanted to touch on that stuff. I read the Richard K. Morgan/Bill Sienkiewicz series in trade and thought, ‘That’s really smart.’
Alert! alert! nerdrage detour: No, no, the first Morgan trade is slick as a single story, but the stuff he did to her origin made negative sense to her character and actively uprooted all her past agency. What Morgan did, what he was trying to do, was refashion her into a victim, into a pawn, for her whole superheroic superspy career. His feminist pretentions were making a statement about women in comics and women in society, how their stories wind up bending for the men who surround them. And he’s got a point, but Natasha’s basic hero myth has her suffer through these things and then free herself, over and over again. Her story is liberation— and to take her past away from her, take her decision to free herself away from her, take all that regrettable self-determination and cover it all up with false memories and mind control— well, I don’t think it was quite the feminist commentary I’d want. That Brubaker is channelling Morgan so heavily is the source of a lot my unsure.jpg reaction to the ideas in this arc.
Because I do think there’s a lot of shared ground to cover between the backstory he’s cooked up for Bucky and the many shades of past that have been established for Natasha. But I also think it’s wrong to make them two peas in the pod. Bucky is and was an American patriot who got conked out of himself and had the USSR put something there in his place. “Remember who you are” is the watchword, there, the gift and the curse, because Bucky is Captain America and the Winter Soldier both, and reconciling the two is his trial. Natasha’s journey is much more linear, she was an honest Russian girl honestly tricked by her patriotism and her loyalty. There was always a degree of kooky Soviet mind-experiments, but if that helped Natasha along, that wasn’t what made her. Eventually Natasha sees the dark places she’s been brought down to and fights her way out of them. But she is whole and unapologetic. She is the Black Widow and that means many things, but her drama is why and how she doesn’t feel she has to reconcile herself.
This isn’t me arguing against the pairing, this is me rambling on about what I think makes it interesting, the differences in spite of the similarities. If we’re really going full-tilt into mind control territory I hope this story gives me more to think about.
“This was a place where I knew the second and third arcs would end up being more about Black Widow because she’s somebody Bucky cares about. And if you read my ‘Daredevil’ run, you know that basically anything Matt Murdock cared about was ripped from his hands. I only have one speed, and it’s ‘Destroy’!”
Here’s some grim stuff to freak out over. Remember: Brubaker dealt with Matt’s marriage by having his wife ingest comic book fear chemicals and go on a murder spree. There was no cure. She needed to be committed, and they had to get her out of the book. The fan speculation I’ve been reading is that Brubaker will end the arc with Bucky wiped from Natasha’s mind, all to make room for the Clint/Natasha MCU-ordained pairing. I wouldn’t go that far in my conspiracy theories, but I do wonder if he’s planning to leave on a Bad End. It wouldn’t be unlike him.
You can read the whole interview here; it’s generally pretty illuminating.