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Steve Epting. #Winning

 

Winter Soldier #13

Written by Ed Brubaker

Pencils by Butch Guice

Inks by Brian Thies

Colors by Jordie Bellaire

Review by Joey Braccino

Last issue, Bucky made the rash decision of playing into arch-nemesis/rogue-sleeper-agent Leo Novokov’s trap by submitting himself to Red Room reprogramming. Though he did it to save the love of his life, Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff, the brainwashing session resulted in Bucky hunting down and assaulting Daredevil. Issue #13 opens with Bucky and Daredevil’s brutal battle, with Wolverine and Hawkeye hot on their trail of destruction! Ed Brubaker deftly scripts this brawl for about half the issue before a certain Star Spangled Avenger intercedes. The final half is wrought with some excellent character-work for our downtrodden heroes and sets the stage for Brubaker’s final issue on The Winter Soldier.

Thus far, Brubaker’s final storyarc, “The Widow Hunt,” has moved rapidly through high-octane action sequences and intimate, reflective character exchanges. Threading it all together is Bucky’s final “redemption” storyline. Brubaker deftly writes his main players, Bucky and Captain America, but also hits all the right notes with characters like Wolverine, Hawkeye, and, in this issue, Daredevil. Granted, Brubaker previously handled Hornhead back during his “gritty, nervous-breakdown” phase, but it’s refreshing to see a writer so expertly grasp and juggle multiple characters. Even though Brubaker’s epic run on Captain America ended a few months ago, it will be the end of Winter Soldier next month that will truly mark the writer’s exit from Marvel comics. Issues like this one exemplify just what we’ll Marvel fans will be missing once that sad day comes: fantastic characterization, nuanced dialogue, and comics that are equal parts suspense, drama, and action. Bummer.

Similar to how Steve Epting’s brilliant artwork on Captain America solidified Brubaker’s run as an instant classic, Butch Guice and Company’s artwork on Winter Soldier has made this series one of the lesser known visual gems in the monthly Marvel catalog. Butch Guice’s lay-outs are dynamic and innovative. Brian Thies’ subtle inking accentuates Butch Guice’s fine linework and shading. Jordie Bellaire (and Elizabeth Breitweiser on previous issues!) washes the issue in saturated blues, reds, and greys. The visual synergy on this book has been fantastic since its debut, and this issue is no different. Stand-out panels include an engaging opening sequence that features a multi-tiered panel lay-out, sweeping rain, a flying car, falling bodies, and a giant eye. The story title is penciled into the side of a building. The car’s high-beams are colored in a sharp yellow against the indigo sky. It’s a visually stunning sequence, and yet another bittersweet reminder that next issue will be the last time we see such perfect artwork.

Verdict

Buy this book. It’s not exactly a new-reader-friendly issue to jump in on because of the rapidity of the storyline, but that’s just an excuse to buy the entire series from the beginning Brubaker’s run is coming to a close next issue, and leaving with him will be some of the best genre-bending storytelling this side of the House of Ideas.

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