In possibly the biggest announcement of the day at Image Expo, Captain America: The Winter Soldier creator Ed Brubaker announced that he and his frequent collaborator Sean Phillips have inked a five-year deal with the publisher. Brubaker's past creator-owned books like Criminal and Incognito, originally published by Marvel's Icon line, head to Image. "Sean [Phillips] and I are doing a five-year deal with Image where basically we can do whatever we want, and they have to publish it," Brubaker told the audience in San Francisco. While their critically-acclaimed series Fatale will end with #24, Brubaker is confident that fans will respond to what he has planned next. The project, titled The Fade Out, will particularly appeal to fans of Criminal, he said. "[The Fade Out is] loosely based on things that happened in Hollywood in the '40s," Brubaker, whose uncle worked as a screenwriter, said.
In a statement, he added, "The Fade Out is my ultimate noir story. It's a brutal crime story set in late '40s Hollywood, and all spinning around the mysterious death of an up-and-coming starlet. For people who've been waiting for us to return to Criminal, this will be exactly what they're looking for, but on a much more epic scale—going from studio backlots to the debauchery of the rich and famous, and even stretching back to the horrors of World War Two."
All the way back when the pair worked together on Sleeper, Brubaker and Phillips wondered if the fragile economy of comics would continue to support their doing cool work together, Brubaker explained. Speaking more of their new deal, Brubaker says that when he and Phillips were doing "Sleeper," the two always worried about whether they could keep doing projects together. "That's why this deal was so amazing to me, because they were willing to do it. Now all I have to do is worry about us doing great comics. I feel like this is a new stage of my career here, and I'm excited about," Brubaker said. A five-year deal will likely allow him to finish whatever he starts, as he prefers story with an endpoint and is unlikely to do long-running titles like The Walking Dead, the writer said. In addition to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which will hit theaters in the spring, Brubaker has a handful of projects at various stages of development in Hollywood, including Criminal, which he worked on with Phillips.