Brubaker and Phillips come up with a great conclusion. Not so much for the present day part–Brubaker’s cheap with the present day stuff–but the flashback story closes beautifully.
While there’s a lot of good action, the issue excels because of the characters. Brubaker provides deeper insight into his protagonists during the issue’s busyness. They’re little insights, very quiet, but Brubaker gives them significance without too much emphasis. If that description makes any sense at all. It’s neat.
There’s not much explaining. Not in the present or the past, which gives Fatale an otherworldly tone even though there’s nothing fantastic in this issue. Even with the seventies cult resolution, there’s nothing uncanny either. It’s a very grounded finish to the arc.
Except for the present day stuff. Brubaker rushes it because it’s a cute resolution for the modern protagonist–whose name I have, in fact, forgotten.
Still, great comic.
The Devil’s Business, Chapter Five; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
Hansel, the cult leader, again gets his own scene juxtaposed against the regular action. Once again, it doesn’t work. Everything else this issue works–except one flashback panel requiring the reader to remember minutiae from the arc’s first issue and a revelation scene–but the cult leader is a constant problem.
Brubaker can’t make him interesting. He’s scary, he’s disturbing, but he’s not interesting. He’s just a bad guy. There’s nothing else to him. If he were addicted to Big League Chew, Fatale would work much better.
Anyway, the issue’s successes. Miles and Jo have a nice chemistry to them as they navigate the issue. It’s occasionally domestic, sometimes nearly cute. Brubaker makes Jo extremely sympathetic. The guy a little too, but nowhere near as much. It’s a damsel in distress story, even if there are a lot of damsels and the distress isn’t clear.
It’s a good, fast read.
The Devil’s Business, Chapter Four; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
There’s not a lot of seventies L.A. scenery this issue; there are a couple good moments though, a couple great panels from Phillips. Instead, most of the issue is spent indoors, whether present or past.
Brubaker gives the modern protagonist–Lash, I think (Brubaker makes his name less important every issue)–a little story. There’s some mystery, of course. A flashback in the present tense set after the regular flashback. And then there’s a cliffhanger in the present.
There’s a cliffhanger in the past too, but Brubaker’s so successful in splitting the two, it’s hard to see the cliffhanger as consequential. All these events occurred forty years before the present action. There’s nothing anyone can do to change them.
It’s an excellent issue. Brubaker’s got a few plots running and he’s writing great characters for all of them. Well, except the evil cult leader’s tone-deaf interlude. It’s weak.
The Devil’s Business, Interlude and Chapter Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
There are so many new supporting characters this issue, I really hope Brubaker isn’t expecting me to remember them all. He opens the issue revealing a little of Jo’s new ground situation. She’s in the house, there are more secrets (physical indications abound), but probably none relevant to this storyline. It’s mood. Phillips’s great at mood.
Then the arc’s protagonist–Miles–heads out to see what kind of trouble he’s gotten himself into. Page after page of Phillips seventies L.A. The art more than makes up for what seems like Brubaker treading water. He’s trying to get the day out of the way so Miles and Jo can go to a cult ceremony.
At this cult ceremony, Brubaker reveals (to the characters, not the reader) some of the connections to the previous Fatale story arc.
Brubaker has a fair amount of artificiality to his plotting, but it’s a good comic.
The Devil’s Business, Chapter Two; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
Brubaker introduces a lot of little mysteries this issue. Some happen in the present, most happen in the past; the big one is how the past and present are connected.
The present day mystery isn’t particularly intriguing, not when compared to the ones in the flashback. It’s set in seventies Hollywood, with a b-actor the apparent protagonist. Brubaker does spend a little time from Jo’s point of view, but she’s such a sympathetic character here it’s hard to recognize her.
The protagonist stumbles into a few of the big mysteries and serendipitously ends up at Jo’s house in the hills. Brubaker makes it feel completely reasonable, never contrived.
Phillips excels at the time period. The art’s more interesting with just the mundane–the fantastic or horror elements are nothing compared to Phillips’s seventies street scenes.
It’s a good comic and gets one interested, even if there’s nothing particularly sensational.
The Devil’s Business, Prologue and Chapter One; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
I can’t believe I forgot about the Brubaker fake arc. It’s when he identifies something as an arc, but it leads directly into the next issue, which starts another arc. He usually uses a hard cliffhanger (and does so here too).
It’s always vaguely frustrating because Brubaker uses the expectations to fool the reader. It’s mostly a Marvel phenomenon for him and it’s always a little hostile.
With an extremely fast-paced issue–like this one–it leaves one wondering why bother reading it at all. The recap in the next issue will have all the pertinent information, since Brubaker doesn’t have a single character moment in this issue. It’s all setup for what’s next.
If Brubaker’s Marvel career has been rehashing the books he liked in the seventies, Winter Soldier is more just rehashing his own earlier Marvel work. Bucky’s got a nemesis. Big whoop.
It’s okay, albeit unrewarding.
Broken Arrow, Part Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Once again, I’ve got to question Brubaker’s approach. He splits this issue of Winter Soldier between Bucky and the bad guy. The bad guy has kidnapped Natasha and he’s going to brainwash her. It’s unclear why he hates Bucky so much–Brubaker plays fast and loose with that logic a lot. He tries to “realistically” update seventies Marvel comics, but he doesn’t take into account the character motivations.
Except when Bucky’s fellow SHIELD agent wonders why Bucky would be dating Black Widow in the first place.
Bucky and SHIELD are trying to find Natasha, which provides some fight scenes. Nothing too fantastic, just Bucky beating the crap out of thugs. Again, logic. A super-spy is hiring thugs from waterfront bars? Because it’s the 1940s? Later, Bucky’s metal arm saves his butt. It made me question how good he’d be without it.
As usual, it’s great looking, fun and problematic.
Broken Arrow, Part Two; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorists, Bettie Breitweiser and Mitch Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Brubaker uses Bucky as narrator here, but mostly Bucky just waxes on about Natasha. It’s filler. I wanted to make a joke about it seeming almost as romantic as Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman narration but it’s insincere.
Brubaker has no reason to try to convince the reader of Natasha’s skills as a super-spy. He’s just filling some exposition boxes.
Otherwise, the issue’s great. It’s Michael Lark drawing a superhero spy book. There are no super powers, so the threats are all a lot more grounded. Lark maintains the realistic mood while still doing the absurd action too. It makes Winter Soldier even more interesting to read, to see how Lark bridges the disconnect.
The issue probably does read a little fast and the busy middle of the night mountain highway seems a tad much, but it’s very exciting. Shame Brubaker felt he needed to blather on in the narration.
Broken Arrow, Part One; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, John Denning and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.
As usual, Ed Brubaker excels when not telling a story about his lead character. In this issue, instead of focusing on Bucky, Brubaker follows around one of his former proteges. The protege has a nice backstory and then an interesting side story to Bucky’s. Brubaker plays with the timeline to get a good ending and it works.
It’s such a strong story for the Russian agent, it doesn’t matter Bucky and Natasha barely have a presence this issue. They talk a little bit and they do some investigating from the SHIELD (or whatever organization they’re with) control room. Brubaker’s running into a problem of how to define Bucky post-Captain America and all, but who cares? It’s a good issue.
But I can’t forget the Michael Lark art. It’s Lark inked by Stefano Gaudiano. It’s beautiful art; incredibly confident heroics. Lark’s preppy hair cut for Bucky is strangely awesome too.
Broken Arrow, Prologue; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Thies; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, John Denning and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Tom Palmer is a very strange inker for Guice. Gaudiano shows up for a bit, at the beginning and end most noticeably, but Palmer handles the big action scene. It’s Bucky, Natasha and Doctor Doom versus the Super-Apes and some other bad guys. With the Palmer inks, it looks like something out of a seventies Marvel comic. It’s glorious action in the Marvel style. This issue makes up for the lackadaisical pacing in the last few and it’s not even Brubaker’s fault. It’s all Tom Palmer.
Even more, when he does the quiet scenes, he brings age and gravity to Bucky. I love Gaudiano, but with Palmer… Winter Soldier is a whole different book.
Brubaker writes some great Nick Fury and Doctor Doom banter–they need a team-up series, obviously–and maintains Bucky’s questionable morality.
It’s an excellent finish to a first arc. Fast and fun but fulfilling.
The Longest Winter, Part Five; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Butch Guice; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano, Tom Palmer and Guice; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editor, Lauren Sankovitch, John Denning and Tom Breevort; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Wait a second… at no time during Marvel’s attempts to “toughen up” the line did anyone ever stop to consider Doctor Doom having nuclear weapons is a lot more dangerous than the Hulk?
Sorry, I just gave away Brubaker’s big reveal for the issue. Sadly, it’s a lame one.
Otherwise, the issue’s okay. The pacing is still bad. Bucky and Doctor Doom head to beat up a Doombot, which leads to some excellent art from Guice and Gaudiano. They’re an interesting pair for Doctor Doom and he looks great. The mass destruction chase scene at the U.N. is good too. It’s just without payoff.
As for Black Widow, she gets a side mission. Unfortunately, she mostly just recounts it in exposition.
And that ending? It’s three times longer than it should be, if not more, and Brubaker hasn’t got any reward for the reader.
Winter‘s technically excellent, but highly problematic.
The Longest Winter, Part Four; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Butch Guice; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano, Guice and Brian Thies; colorists, Bettie Breitweiser and Matthew Wilson; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editor, Lauren Sankovitch, John Denning and Tom Breevort; publisher, Marvel Comics.
So, if the good guys are going to figure out the identity of the bad guy–bad girl, actually–before the issue starts, why bother making it a mystery?
In addition to that silly plotting, this issue is the first where Brubaker’s pacing is too hurried. There’s a mission briefing, there’s the mission, then there’s the surprise ending. Except it’s not a particularly good surprise. Maybe in the Marvel Universe, there just aren’t any good surprises. I mean, it’s good comics and it’s fun and Brubaker writes Doctor Doom really well, but the end isn’t a surprise.
I guess there’s some more filler–the bad guys doing bad things–and a funny primate sight gag, but this issue is thin.
Well, except for Guice and company. The artwork is absolutely amazing, both in how Guice toggles between detail and action and how he composes the pages. Even the filler’s beautiful.
The Longest Winter, Part Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Butch Guice; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano, Brian Thies and Guice; colorists, Bettie Breitweiser and Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editor, Lauren Sankovitch, John Denning and Tom Breevort; publisher, Marvel Comics.
While Winter Soldier remains exceptionally entertaining, Brubaker runs into some genre problems. He runs the book like it’s action espionage with supervillains–though it’s unclear why Bucky isn’t familiar with the Red Ghost (to be fair, I got companies confused and thought the machine gunning gorilla was Monsieur Mallah)–but he still keeps the mystery investigation angle.
So Bucky and Natasha are trying to figure out the second bad guy and Brubaker already told the reader last issue. There’s no way the discovery is going to have a significant pay-off and it’s bewildering why he wouldn’t keep the reader in the dark too.
While the approach allows him a money shot at the end of this issue, it’s not a particularly good one. Guice and Breitweiser make it look cool and all… but who cares?
The art continues its excellence. Guice concentrates on the action more, as does Brubaker.
The Longest Winter, Part Two; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Butch Guice; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editor, Lauren Sankovitch, John Denning and Tom Breevort; publisher, Marvel Comics.
So Black Widow is ageless, right? I’m not missing something. Brubaker uses her to interesting effect in Winter Soldier. While she’s technically the sidekick, she’s more a supporting girlfriend character. The comic is so much in Bucky’s head, there’s not really room to share it with a sidekick.
The story’s good Marvel Brubaker; a modern approach to an old story, one with some unexpected villains. But it’s not surprising, even with the big reveal at the end.
What is surprising is the artwork. Guice toggles between these intricate action panels and these photo-like close ups. It causes a pause every time, which is another contributor towards Widow not being a full partner in the book. Bucky–and Guice–concentrate on her as a subject.
Not much happens, but Brubaker’s pace is fantastic. Between his thoughtful, deliberate Bucky narration and Guice and colorist Bettie Breitweiser’s jaw dropping art, Soldier excels.
The Longest Winter, Part One; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Butch Guice; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editor, Lauren Sankovitch, John Denning and Tom Breevort; publisher, Marvel Comics.