Winter Soldier #14
Written by Ed Brubaker
Pencils by Butch Guice
Inks by Brian Thies
Colors by Jordie Bellaire & Bettie Breitweiser
Review by Joey Braccino
And so one of the definitive runs in modern comics comes to a heart-wrenching close with Ed Brubaker’s final issue of Winter Soldier. A few months back, I reviewed the finale of Captain America, and, with that book, Brubaker took the opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Captain America and the way in which the character’s mythological significance transcends creator. With Winter Soldier #14, however, Brubaker instead imbues his finale with heartache and an unmistakable sense of loss. Unlike a character like Captain America, who several writers and artists have molded and mined over the last 70 years, Ed Brubaker rebirthed Cap’s plucky teen-sidekick, Bucky, into the modern Marvel Universe as the Winter Soldier. Bucky has become Brubaker’s definitive (re)addition to the Marvel canon, and the sorrow present in this final issue is felt by the eponymous hero and, it would appear, the writer himself.
Oh, and the reader as well. Nearly cried myself.
For the last few issues, Bucky has been fighting an uphill battle against former protégé and sleeper Soviet agent, Leo Novokov. To make matters worse, Novokov has kidnapped and brainwashed Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff, Bucky’s one true love—his “home” as he states at the start of this issue. The conflict comes to a head in this issue, as guns blare, fists fly, and, as I mentioned earlier, hearts break. Leave it to noir-extraordinaire Ed Brubaker to write a final issue filled to the brims with espionage action, high-profile suspense, a superheroic resolution, and an absolutely tragic ending. No spoilers here, but Brubaker really knocks this one out of the National Mall, if you know what I’m saying.
Butch Guice and the art team also bring their double-A-game for Brubaker’s final issue. Guice is a legend in the comics biz and, though his style is similar to Gene Colan’s classic work, there’s still a distinct modernism to his lay-outs and obsession with rain sequences. Of course, the rain sequences are gorgeous, but you’d think John Cusack were in this book for all the amount of time these characters suffer in the rain! Needless to say, inker Brian Thies and colorists Jordie Bellaire and Bettie Breitweiser (dream team) have a high standard to meet when working with someone as versatile as Guice, and they perform spectacularly. It’s a gorgeous book, and the team deftly balances the melancholy and the action well.
Buy it. Buy the whole series. Bucky has become one of the most popular characters in the Marvel U, and Brubaker is to blame for it. Heck, they’re making a movie out the storyline for goodness’ sake! With this issue, the great Ed Brubaker leaves the House of Ideas for greener, creator-owned pastures. Here’s to hoping he returns to our favorite metal-armed former-Soviet assassin someday…
PS – For those wondering what Bucky will be up to next, Jason Latour and Nic Klein (Dancer) pick up with issue #15 next month!