By: Ed Brubaker (Writer) Butch Guice (Artist), Jordie Bellaire, Bettie Breitweser (Colorists)

The Story: Bucky, along with his allies, track and encounter Leo Novokov to free Black Widow from his hold on her.

The Review: This is a tough one. Not only is this the last issue of Ed Brubaker’s tenure on the title, but it’s also the last comic the writer will write in the Marvel Universe for a while, with his beloved pet character no less. When I think of Bucky Barnes, it is immediately Brubaker’s name that comes to mind, as he was the one that made him rise from a small joke about dead comic book characters to a full-fledged character.

In this issue, we see the ending of the long storyline that Brubaker had set in motion in the very first issue of the series, as Leo Novokov, one of the agents that Bucky had trained during his time as the brainwashed Winter Soldier. With the fate of Natasha Romanoff in the balance, Brubaker set an atmosphere of rush close to panic right from the very start. The thrill and suspense in the first part of the book is palpable, setting a mood that only elevates as the confrontation with Leo continues, a sensation enhanced by Bucky’s dialogue and narration. The tension is set very high, yet we can feel a lot of sympathy for Bucky as even though his actions are not dictated by logic, the reader can surely empathize with them. It makes for an exciting read all the way through.

What’s also exciting would be the action, written and paced expertly throughout the book. Be it the desperation in Bucky’s move or the grace of Black Widow, all of these moves help add to the general spy comic feel of the comic. Nothing incredibly flashy or impossibly big, just acrobatic and fully controlled moves that accentuates the fact that those are professional hand-to-hand fighters in a bad spot, thus enhancing even more the tension created by the issue in general. Truly, this is where Brubaker has always excelled when he wrote Bucky Barnes in Captain America.

Where the issue does not show the same amount of excellence, though, would in its conclusion. I will not spoil it for those who have followed the series or wish to read it in its entirety, but it feel like as if Brubaker had to remove certain elements that made Bucky such a great addition to the Marvel universe. It is a sad ending and one that is not without its merits, but it feel a little bit like a letdown, considering how Ed Brubaker’s tenure on Captain America ended. It feels a little bit disappointing that Brubaker’s final story about Bucky would end on this note, but it only feels that way because Brubaker had done such a nice job writing this character from the start.

Brubaker isn’t the only one who did a nice job on this issue, though, as Butch Guice is at the pinnacle of his art here, creating some very good panels and making the action scene very acrobatic and smooth thanks to his particular style. The way he creates the rain and thunderous effects in these panels is nothing short of astounding, helping the atmosphere grandly. What also helps is the great coloring job by Jordie Bellaire and Bettie Breitweser who add quite the somber tone during most of the book scenes. The art team in general truly does help, thanks to the juxtaposition of dark and light themes that truly accentuates the action and the mood of the confrontation. Kudos to them.

The Conclusion: This is a nice finale for Brubaker’s tenure on the title, with lots of tension and action helped with some atmospheric art and colorization. It is only a little bit sad that the ending of Brubaker adventures with the character ends like this, but it is a testament to how he raised the character from his initial situation.

Grade: B+

Hugo Robberts Larivière