Review: Winter Soldier (2018-2019) #1

This limited run of Winter Soldier (2018-2019) is 5 issues and was written by Kyle Higgins, with art by Rob Reis, and letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles. 

What do you need to know?

All you need are the bare bones of the Winter Soldier as a character. Good thing I know the story well. Bucky Barnes was a kid recruited by the army during WWII as a sidekick for Captain America. Presumed dead by his allies he falls into the hands HYDRA (an evil Nazi sub-division) and brainwashed to become an assassin known as the Winter Solider. After regaining his memories, and a stint as Captain America, Bucky is trying to atone for his past

What do you need to have read?

Some background for Bucky is always useful, so I’d recommend Captain America and Bucky #620, or the bind up, Captain America and Bucky: The Life Story of Bucky Barnes. After covering the past it’s time to move into Winter Soldier territory with Captain America: Winter Soldier, vol. 1 and vol. 2., which are excellent. However, I will repeat that this is all completely optional and you should be fine to jump into this issue. 

I wanted to start off by talking about the art in this book because it feels like a tale of two halves. Half of the art is perfectly fine, but the other half is really nice, which is particularly noticeable with the splash pages. 

Now, this looks like art, not just comic book panels and I love it. At times you can see echoes of Dave McKeen’s work (most notable for his art in DC’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth), though admittedly a lot easier to read. It’s fascinating that the art gets more complex when depicting Bucky’s past as it’s such a complex, and unclear topic given his problems with memory. The juxtaposition of the two styles illustrate the juxtaposition of Bucky’s past and present and getting to see the complexities of his psychology visually represented on the page. 

Winter Soldier #1 begins where every Bucky comic should begin; with a whole load of action. As a character the Winter Soldier is immensely physical and the action on these pages really captures that, reminding the reader that he’s a force to be reckoned with.

The book does a good job of giving you a crash course in the biography of Bucky Barnes because that’s the only background that you need. It’s quick and it’s succinct, suggesting that the writer was reluctant to dwell on the past because it’s a story that’s already been told, and when it comes to Captain America, and Bucky, you’re not going to get much better than Burbaker. Instead the writer is quick to establish what’s going on right now with this character and how he’s living his life, informed by his past. 

Typically, we see Bucky struggle to handle the memories of his past, a man with a hundred regrets, so it’s great to see him address the second chance he’s been blessed, or maybe cursed with, as he tries to help other stuck in similar situations. The real meat of the plot isn’t revealed until the final panel and even then, it doesn’t quite explain what is happening. It’s more of a hint towards the journey rather than a map. Overall the plot keeps a decent pace, balancing the action sequences with more domestic sequences so that we get to see both sides of Bucky, both the emotional James Buchanan Barnes side and the physical Winter Soldier Side. 

Winter Soldier #1 is available from Comixology or your local comic book store. Alternatively, it’s also available as a trade paperback, Winter Soldier: Second Chances from Comixology, Amazon, or your local comic book store. 

Coming Soon… Winter Soldier (2018-2019) #2 

In the meantime, why not check out… Captain America: Winter in America or Civil War: Captain America.

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