by Rick Remender (Writer), Roland Boschi (Artist), Chris Chuckry (Colorist)
The Story: As Nick Fury and Ran Shen tries to save a couple of Nazis from Hydra, they are visited by a myth from Soviet Russia…
The Review: The last time we saw the rather beloved Winter Soldier in a title of his own, he was written by Jason Latour and drawn by the very talented Nic Klein. Now, however, with the imminent release of a movie in which he is part of the title, it seems that Rick Remender has the audacity to write a miniseries about the character, tying it to his overall narrative that started in his Captain America run. However, with Remender not being in his general element with his depiction of Steve Rogers and his adventures as the sentinel of liberty, does he have what it takes to write a story featuring Bucky Barnes?
The answer isn’t exactly easy on this one, however, as the writer subvert expectations a bit with a tale that is somehow a homage to older Steranko issues featuring Nick Fury, mixing things up with a bit of Brubaker along with his very own style. Pushing forth Ran Shen, the man who will become the Iron Nail, as the protagonist here along with a setting straight from the 60’s.
In many ways, this is a story that use storytelling sensibilities from the past and present, using a setting very well-known for kooky devices and lots of action, yet those very ideas are delivered in a way that are more in line with what modern readers might expect. Presenting a setting straight from old action and spy movies, a castle in a snowy mountain side, Remender never stops with the use of cliché in a way that feels referential, yet fresh at the same time. Femme fatales, Hydra acting like the big evil organisation they are, two agents that are friends and rivals, gadgets, rookie mistakes and a lot of other conventional ideas are presented here straight, without any bitter irony or sarcasm, letting the fun of this issue speak for itself.
Something else that speak for itself is Ran Shen, the actual protagonist of this issue. Presenting him to the readers in his days as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, his actual introduction and his demeanour are presented through the action and through a light touch of narration. Letting us know how he is not through introspection but with the help of his reactions and his interactions with the various threats and friends he has in this issue, Remender makes a nice case for Ran as a fun protagonist. A bit of a charmer, a man full of humor and of action combined with a bit of a daredevil attitude, the reckless yet also likable Ran is actually fun to see develop, which also serves as a stark contrast to how he actually is in the present days.
Another character which is quite different from how he is in the current Marvel universe is Bucky, also known as the Winter Soldier. The titular character acts as an antagonist here, interfering the mission as he is presented here in the days when he was a brainwashed Russian super weapon, which work rather well to set up some obstacle for the protagonist and his mission. What’s a tad disappointing, however, is the fact that Bucky only arrive in the second half of the issue, not making much of an impact when he finally participate in the action. While the build up to him and the description of what he is promise a lot for fans of the character, it does not deliver quite enough to properly satisfy those who want some more Winter Soldier in their comics.
Where the comic is more satisfactory is in the art, with Roland Boschi doing a pretty nice job. Despite a certain weakness of his in drawing characters without a certain elongation of lines, his style doesn’t get in the way of the story at all, delivering a great range of emotion and poses with a certain cartoonish, but also bizarrely apt approach to body language. His backgrounds, despite being utterly simple and squiggly in their lines, are evocative and efficient enough to actually present the setting in which the characters evolve decently. The castles, the mountains, the forest and the underground bases are all done in a way that is minimal in term of details, yet also precise enough to add just enough elements to make sure things are easily understood by the readers. Where he seems to do a really good job, though, is with his visual pacing, with the sense of progression being neither forced nor too quick. Each panels serve their purpose without dragging things on for no reasons, which serves very well in a tale that is essentially high-action espionage.
The colorization is also quite good, with Chris Chuckry showing a fine balance between monochromatic and nuanced. Using an economy of light shading at the right place along with a good use of shadows here and there, Chuckry does a decent job of respecting the past in which the story is set in terms of visual storytelling without making it an hindrance to the story being told in the issue. With a good handle on palettes and a rather neat diversity on display, Chuckry makes the potent work of Boschi even more so.
The Conclusion: While there might not be enough Winter Soldier for those looking for more appearances from him, Rick Remender does deliver a fun tale of action and espionage that manage to be a rather good homage to older comics all the same. With a very decent artistic direction thanks to Boschi and Chuckry, it is well worth.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière