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Winter Soldier #11

Written by Ed Brubaker

Pencils by Butch Guice

Inks by Brian Thies

Colors by Bettie Breitweiser

Review by Joey Braccino

So in this week’s Talking Comics podcast, the crew talked about how difficult it is to write reviews about series that are consistently amazing. I concur, because I’ve had to write about Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier for the last few months, and I don’t know how many more good things I can say about this series. Brubaker’s run is ending in 3 short issues, and the final arc, “The Black Widow Hunt,” is quickly escalating to what promises to be an explosive end.

Issue #11 is the second chapter in this arc, and a lot of the action on the page sets up the conflict for the final three issues. Brubaker constantly puts Leo Novokov—Bucky’s arch nemesis for the last 5 issues or so—one step ahead of Bucky and Clint Barton for the entirety of the issue. In typical Brubaker-Cap fashion, issue #11 weaves flashbacks, espionage, and action together into suspenseful comics storytelling. But while this issue might read as a set-up chapter, it’s the character-centric developments that really help make this book one of the best on the stands.

Brubaker’s larger project with the Captain America and Winter Soldier mythos has always been the redemption story for Bucky Barnes. A lot of the plot beats over the last 10 issues of Winter Soldier have direct corollaries in the initial stories of Brubaker’s Captain America run. In a sense, Bucky now takes on Steve Rogers’ role as hero and guardian to The Black Widow. Seeing Bucky grapple with this new role—particularly his struggle with his deviant doppelganger, Leo Novokov—is the perfect conclusion to Brubaker’s story, and I hope that the story pans out over the next three issues.

Butch Guice and Company are in true form as always this issue. The artwork is dark, gritty, and scratchy—perfect for Brubaker’s suspenseful, pulp yarn. It’s Bettie Breitweiser’s coloring this time around that really stands out. Oranges and yellows clash with blues and greys. A flashback sequence incorporates blood reds with flat green-greys into Guice’s unique angular and round panels. It’s visually fascinating and complex. Did I mention the amount of rain in this issue? Rain is so hard to draw and make look good in sequential storytelling, but Guice, Breitweiser, and Thies are up to the task.

Verdict

Buy it. And buy last week’s issue. And buy all the back issues, too. Winter Soldier is a master class in comics writing and illustrating.

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About The Author

Joey Braccino took his BA in English and turned it into an Ed.M. in English Education. Currently, he brings comics back in a big way all day every day to public education. In addition to proselytizing the good word of comics to this nation’s under-aged citizenry, Joey is a firm believer in the academic and literary merits of cultural media more broadly—particularly film, radio, pop journalism, and social media. #Excelsior!

3 Responses

  1. RepStones

    I’m loving this book too. It’s got a very unique look, primarily down to Bettie Breitweiser’s amazing colour palette. Her use of colour for some strange reason helps evoke that Cold War-ish thriller feel, which is complimented perfectly by Butch Guice’s art style. I realise i should be saying its Breitweiser’s colours that compliment Guice’s art, but her palette is the main attraction for me. It’s just immense.
    Brubaker has most definitely developed the perfect world for his Winter Soldier to operate in. You get the feeling that if you were in trouble in this world, it’d be Bucky you want showing up more than Cap, as he seems more adept (as he obviously is) to understanding the machinations of cold war espionage.
    Brubaker has set up this arc beautifully, with the brainwashing aspect being a central theme. It informs us as readers that we can’t take anything for granted, which is why this title is working so well as an action thriller type comic.
    You mention the flashback sequence – which is a narrative tool that has been a big feature of this run – and it is indeed beautifully rendered. It’s not vastly different from the present storyline in the book, but just a subtle change in colour tone and panel layout are enough to inform us of the time change.
    Im already dreading the fact Brubaker is gonna jump ship on this title in a few issues, but i really hope they keep Bettie Breitweiser on board, because to lose the two most important components to one of your favourite books doesn’t bear thinking about. i may need brainwashed into forgetting about how good this run of Winter Soldier has been ;)

    • Joey Braccino

      On all counts, precisely. Bettie Breitweiser is just so darn good at what she does. Her coloring is so evocative and so appropriate to the Captain America stable of pencilers. Guice, Lark, and Samnee have all worked with her on recent Brubaker-penned Cap stories, and the products have been nothing short of spectacular. Unsung hero in my book!

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