I'm not a real fan of "Mainstream" superhero comics, with their constant "events" and crossovers, especially Marvel superheroes, who seem to have an event or crossover every couple months or so where you have to buy 10 books if you want to keep track. No thanks, I like more self-contained stories. But I DO like Captain America, and I liked the Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier/Bucky-Cap saga. I didn't really remember THIS series, though. Not sure why I didn't recall much about it, but I was pleasantly surprised to become re-acquainted with the post Bucky-Cap adventures of the Winter Soldier. . .
I didn't remember much about this run except that Black Widow was in it until I started reading this first issue and was like "Oh yeah. This is some good stuff. I remember now." after the first couple of pages.
I like that this is the same writer that brought Bucky back in Captain America, and he brings that same "grounded" feel to this series as well. I wish Epting could have done the art, but Butch Guice does a damn fine job bringing that gritty, more realistic feel that Epting brought to Captain America. So no complaints about the art
I liked that there was plenty of introduction in this first issue and that it wasn't really intrusive, but part of the story. I know these characters, but I'm not real big on Marvel continuity. I had forgotten that at this point, Bucky was thought dead from some crossover or other, so the light memory refresher without resorting to the internet was greatly appreciated.
All in all, I thought that this was pretty close to the perfect first issue of a series. It introduces the characters, lets you know what the bigger continuity picture is, and starts off on its own path. . .what more can you ask for?
The only thing I DIDN'T like was the Russian speaking gorilla with a machine gun at the end of the issue. With the gritty espionage tale at hand, I had forgotten that this was a book in regular Marvel continuity. I hope it doesn't get TOO silly with these things and sticks closer to the spy games in future issues.
The story continues off on a strong start. Unfortunately, the first part of the book is a battle against machine gun toting gorillas. . .but hey, Marvel, right?
The good news is that Guice makes even gorilla gunfights look great! His art is really the start of the show here, considering that the majority of the book is basically taken up by two fight sequences with a bit of superspy information-gathering and infiltration in between.
I really like the unusual panel layouts, shapes, sizes, overlap. His art is extremely dynamic even when it's just people in a room full of computers talking about who's on the screen.
The colorist (Brietweiser) also deserves mention for the muted colors that bring a dark and gritty feel to a comic book where the heroes are fighting armed apes.
Still strong, but hopefully the gorilla nonsense will come to an end soon, before I remember why I don't really read too many mainstream Marvel books. . .
Thank God there is a lack of gorillas in this issue. . .a lack that is taken up by Winter Soldier and Black Widow teaming up with Doctor DOOM!
I love Doctor Doom as a character. He's a villain who doesn't think he's a villain, and he chews up scenery in every scene he's in, so I'm happy they decided to throw him into the mix this time. . .not as a egomaniac with a plan to take over this or that, but ALMOST as another hero trying to stop the real villain from her nefarious plans.
Speaking of the real villain, I had no idea who Lucia Von Bardas was, but in this issue there's a very nice double-page info dump on her and I was like "Oh yeah. . .Secret War. Now I remember" I really like how Brubaker slides continuity information into the story for those of us who might not be rabid Marvel fans. . .so well done on that.
I'm also really liking the idea of Doctor Doom as hero. . .as much in the grey zone as that might be in this story. And those outstanding Berjermo covers!
I'm starting to remember why I had this book on pull for over a year.
Now THAT'S a cover!
This issue has no gorilla action, thank God. . .but plenty of Doctor Doom, which is a good thing. There's a lot of action in this issue with Winter Soldier, Black Widow, and Doom confronting their enemies and stopping part of Von Barda's plot, only to discover that they only know the half of it.
So with a lot of fighting, once again the art does the heavy lifting. In particular is a very nice panel of Winter Soldier and Doom flying off in a jet while Black Widow takes the low road on a motorcycle. Very nicely done!
That said. . .because most of this issue is taken up by fight scenes, I didn't like it as much, but that's not to say it wasn't good. This is still some top-quality comics.
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Issue # 18