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.
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.