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This metaphorically represents what happens in the book.

Winter Soldier #9

Written by Ed Brubaker

Pencils by Michael Lark

Inks by Brian Thies w/ Stefano Gaudiano

Colors by Bettie Breitweiser

Review by Joey Braccino

If you’re looking for some superheroic action mixed with espionage-tinged thrills, all washed in character drama and shadowy intrigue, then Winter Soldier is the series for you. Last issue ended with a re-brainwashed Black Widow joining a ballet company and our eponymous hero grappling with his culpability in the situation that resulted in her capture. This issue features the Black Widow and Leo Novokov (the rogue Soviet sleeper trained by Bucky who killed Fred “Other Bucky” Davis a few issues back!) plotting against the First Lady during a private ballet recital and Bucky and Agent Sitwell working to locate their missing comrade and sort out Leo’s plans. It’s suspenseful, it’s gritty, and it ends on a twist so violent and jaw-dropping that I want next issue NOW.

It was announced late last week that Brubaker is leaving Winter Soldier after issue #15. Sad times. But that means that this extended arc will conclude Brubaker’s epic run with the Captain America mythos. Taking a step back, it’s a perfect story to end on. Bucky is struggling to save the love of his life from serving as a brainwashed killing machine. Sound familiar? Almost 8 years ago, Steve Rogers was struggling to save Bucky from serving as a brainwashed killing machine during Brubaker’s second storyline on Captain America. Steve handled the mission one way; now it’s Bucky’s turn. And it’s this coming-full-circle—this test of character—that makes this Winter Soldier story-arc so impactful. I’m excited to see where it goes, and, as teased in this issue, I’m excited to see some more Black Widow/Winter Soldier throwdowns.

Michael Lark and the stacked art team deliver once again. Brubaker and Lark—much like Brubaker and Epting, Brubaker and Guice, and Brubaker and Phillips—have a distinct synergy that produces everything form high-octane fisticuffs and gunplay to close-up, shadowy noir drama. Breitweiser’s colors produce a haunting ballet sequence and a brilliant blue-orange skyline. Exceptional.

Verdict

Now that we know Brubaker’s run on the series is ending in 6 short issues, you gotta buy it. This issue is actually a great jumping on point as well, as the plot from the last 8 issues is reviewed succinctly and clearly. Bucky is one of the best characters of the 21st century, and the character drama presented in this issue alone puts it above and beyond most books on the stand.  And again, the ending is shocking. Shocking.

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