First of all, if you’re not reading this book right now, what are you waiting for?
Ed Brubaker is calling it quits from this title starting at issue #14 in order to pursue more of his creator-owned work. It’s undeniable that he single-handedly brought Captain America, Bucky, and Black Widow back from plain mediocrity to becoming iconic powerhouses of Marvel comics once again. The gritty espionage, action, pulp-thriller is back again and continues the story of James “Bucky” Barnes (The Winter Soldier) and the aftermath of rescuing his paramour Natasha Romanoff (The Black Widow) from the brainwashing by his former ally, the elite soviet soldier Leo Novokov. After the showdown from last issue, it appears that Bucky has managed to pull Natasha out of her brainwashed state and return to her self again. Unfortunately, that doesn’t last for long and there’s concern over how deep the brainwashing went and how much she even remembers at all.
After turning past the title and intro page for this issue, I was completely blown away by Butch Guice’s insatiably awesome artwork. Not to dismiss the fantastic pencils by previous artist Michael Lark, but the action scenes and panels of Guice’s first eight pages of the book not only exude stylistic pulp art with dynamic, cinematic action, but by the time it culminated with The Black Widow driving a commandeered flying motorcycle through the glass windows of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier to the panel close-up of a wide-eyed and dead S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, I had to pick my jaw up wipe the drool away from my mouth. The art remains dark and gritty throughout the rest of the issue evoking neo-noir sensibilities in this little corner of the Marvel Universe and I don’t believe I’ve seen a more gorgeous rendition of Maria Hill ever.
The dialogue and narration is pitch perfect. Brubaker orchestrates another masterpiece and with Bucky’s former mentor, Steve “Captain America” Rodgers showing up with Hawkeye and Wolverine to help pick up the pieces, I can’t wait to read the dialogue and banter he’ll have in store for this assembly of tough guys working together in next issue!