Shall we continue?
On the back half of the run now. Lark leaves art duties and Guice steps back in for the next arc, which looks like it will revolve around Winter soldier teaming up with other heroes to hunt down a brainwashed Black Widow after she attempts to assassinate Nick Fury.
Lark's art style was perfect for the pretty much costume-less previous arc, but Guice's style is much better suited for this one so far. Either way, Marvel hit the target with both artists on this title.
Unfortunately, Marvel just CANNOT resist the crossovers and teamups. So we get Captain America, Hawkeye, and Wolverine joining up. That said, so far it's not bad at all. As a matter of fact, it's damn good! I'll keep my fingers crossed that Brubaker can keep it on the rails even with costumed superheroes coming on board.
Winter Soldier and Hawkeye team up in this one. A lot of action, so once again the art does the heavy lifting. There's a very nice 2 page sequence showing Winter Soldier thinking through a problem that stands out. Unfortunately, Novokov is a bit of a weak villain. They try to make him strong, but his plans are Bond Villain convoluted and it would seem there are more simple ways to achieve his goals. One of the side characters, a weapon smith Novokov drags into his schemes even points this out to him. It looks to me as if they're dragging out his plot so Winter Soldier can have an excuse to team up with a few more Marvel costumed heroes.
All in all, very nice art. . .questionable (but still good) writing.
This arc basically feels like an excuse for Winter Soldier to have other Marvel heroes in his title and on the cover.
This time around, Winter Soldier goes rogue and allows himself to be programmed back from Bucky to his old self, the assassin Winter Soldier. Captain America, Hawkeye, and Wolverine are hunting him down and we find out the target he's been programmed to take out is Daredevil. For. . .reasons?
It's not explained why Novokov wants to pit Winter Soldier against Daredevil (in this issue, anyway), but I have the feeling it's so they can have Daredevil in the mix and not much else.
Still, nicely-drawn. Most of the issue takes place in the pouring rain and Guice hits the target very nicely. The writing isn't bad either. This is pretty much a Wolverine comic, as most of the narration is in his head and he is in most of the action. . .I'm not a huge Wolverine fan, but Brubaker keeps it gritty and grounded. I'm just not liking how this title suddenly turned into "Marvel Team Up Featuring Winter Soldier".
I haven't been a huge fan of this arc, and this issue doesn't help. I find it a bit hard to "comic book believe" that it would take Captain America, Hawkeye, Wolverine, AND Daredevil to take down WInter Soldier all by himself. I mean. . .that's like half of an Avengers team.
In any case. . .I see by the "To be concluded" tag on the last page that this obligatory Marvel All-Star team up is about done with. So that's a good thing. The other good thing is that even though the title has slipped into typical Marvel teamup/crossover territory, the art still remains extremely strong. Marvel really did pick the best artist for this title. I wonder if it was Brubaker's choice to have all the Marvel costumes in his gritty superspy story, or if he was doing the best he could on Corporate orders. Still. . .the writing's not bad, but if I wanted Avengers, I'd read Avengers.
First off. . .now THAT'S a sweet cover! Standing slow clap for Daniel Acuna.
In this issue, the "Widow Hunt" act comes to a close with Bucky finally running down Novakov and Black Widow in Arlington National Cemetary. The mini-Avengers team saves the day. . .or so they think. Black Widow has had all her memory of Bucky completely erased.
Wait. . .just last issue, Novokov made his move for some Black Widow booty and she was like (in my terrible Russian accent imitation) "No. After being undercover with Barnes for so long. . .I don't want to be touched by anyone."
So one day, she's disgusted by having to sleep with Bucky when she was supposedly undercover (as Novokov brainwashed her to believe), then ONE DAY LATER she's like "Who the hell is this guy?"
Okay. . .I realize that the dramatic end, where Bucky decides he's brought enough pain to her and that Black Widow has had her head messed with enough, so it's just better if she can't remember who he is and he dips out of the picture quietly. Okay. . .it was a nice, dramatic moment. But it fails, Brubaker! It fails! Part of her brainwashing by Novakov was her wanting revenge against Bucky for being "forced" to pretend to love him for so long! I CALL FOUL!
Anyway. . .
It was all nicely drawn and written, except for that one glaring point that sort of destroyed the ending for me. This wasn't my favorite arc, but it was still well put together. Just not to my taste. Why does there have to be Avengers and X-Men in my gritty spy story?
5 issues left in the run. Here's hoping they feature neither talking gorillas or the "Sort of Secret Avengers".
Holy Changeup, Batman!
New writer, new artist. A whole new feel for the book. What the hell?
That said. . .
I really liked this issue. Much more than I liked the previous handful. Winter Soldier is off the grid, but Nick Fury finds him and enlists him to take on some off the books missions. I'm liking this new direction, even though there's only 4 more issues left after this one.
The new art is yet another perfect pick by Marvel for this title. I especially liked the depiction of Nick Fury as a grizzled old secret warrior. Sort of reminded me of the Max series "Fury: My War Gone By" Forget Sam Jackson Fury, THIS is a guy you don't want to mess around with.
One thing that concerns me a bit is a short prologue that takes place in outer space.
Please, God. . .don't let Winter Soldier go to outer space.
Annnnnnd. . .now we go off the rails.
This series has been on the edge of control since it started, but Brubaker always seemed to barely manage to keep her steady. Now that he's gone, there's been a quick swerve and we're through the guardrail.
The first issue by this team was quality. From the cover to the new direction, to the new art style. That quality has turned to crap with this issue. Like taking a bite of well-done filet mignon. It looked good when they brought it out, but now you're looking for the manager.
I'm not sure if this was part of a bigger crossover, but the world is in turmoil. . .S.H.I.E.L.D. is helpless, world leaders are being killed, nuclear bombs are going off, and the world is being held hostage by "The Electric Ghost" in a hijacked S.H.I.E.L.D. satellite.
And only the Winter Solder can stop her.
In a world where THOR exists, not to mention several teams of X-Men and Avengers, Bucky Barnes is the sole hope of the world?
My "comic book suspension of belief" has officially been blown. They had Captain America, Hawkeye and Wolverine on deck to help hunt down Black Widow when she was missing. Where are they now? Where's Iron Man? Where's Captain Marvel? Isn't she usually on top of outer space threats? How about the Fantastic Four? (Nick Fury even references them in this issue) The Fantastic Four is usually on hand for these kind of things, right? WHY IS WINTER SOLDIER THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SAVE THE EARTH?
And. . .there he goes into outer space.
Thank God it's almost over.
This entire issue is take up with the origin of The Electric Ghost. It makes very little sense, although the writer attempts to make it sound grand and meaningful. The whole time I was reading it I was wondering when Iron Man was going to interrupt her ramblings by blowing her a new Repulsor-Beam A-hole.
Like I said. . .thank God it's almost over. This series turned real bad real fast. Even the covers suck on these last few issues.
Thank God it's over.
A terrible ending with cosmic cubes, time travel, something, reasons, things.
Look. . .I understand. They wanted to try to end on an epic note. The problem is that Bucky Barnes A.K.A. The Winter Soldier isn't an epic character. He himself (or at least the writers) admitted as much when he was supposedly killed and he went underground to take on less epic missions than he would be expected to as Captain America. He pretty much admitted the same thing in this series in issue 14 where he dipped out of Black Widow's life quietly and went to go drink himself stupid on the beach until Fury showed up. Winter Soldier just doesn't work as epic. And so this final arc failed.
A damn shame. . .
And there you have it. The entire 19 issue Marvel run of Winter Soldier.
All in all, I enjoyed this series until the end. The writing swerved a bit here and there and it fell victim to being a mainstream Marvel book and basically being expected to cross over and team up with other Marvel heroes, but the art was consistently fantastic and the stories were pretty gritty and grounded for the most part.
But that ending *facepalm*
I'm going to go ahead and heartily suggest this series to anyone who is a fan of Black Widow or Winter Soldier, or wants to know more about them. But I'm also going to heartily suggest that the story ACTUALLY ends with issue #14. I have no idea what was going on with those final 5 issues, but it seems like a completely different book. Seriously. . .end it with #14.
Coming next. . .
Hey, remember when one of Earth's greatest heroes was killed in front of the entire world? Then his old partner decided to maintain the legacy of his fallen mentor by taking up the uniform and name and carrying on his work? But what nobody knew was that the hero wasn't dead after all, but was trapped in time for. . .reasons. . .and was fighting his way back? Remember that?
Captain America? What? Him too? Naw. . .I'm talking about Batman!
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne 6 issue mini. Be there or be square!
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Issue # 1