Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #1 – Bond-Style Adventure


Rick Remender has tasked himself to take over where Ed Brubaker left off. First, it was Captain America, and now Winter Soldier. Granted, Jason Latour officially took over Winter Solider post-Brubaker, but he was hardly given time to breathe before the series was cancelled. Marvel Now is re-launching the continued adventures of Bucky Barnes, this time tapping Remender to steer the ship. Cracking open issue #1, I can only hope this isn’t the complete debacle that Remender’s Captain America has been.

Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #1 begins in 1966 and maintains a James Bond spy-thriller vibe through out. The usual cast of characters is here for a Marvel spy jamboree. SHIELD, Nick Fury, and Hydra. As is also standard with spy movies, two scientists have concocted something that could cause mass destruction in the world. Referred to as the Alchemy Formula, this creation is of massive interest to SHIELD and Hydra. Remender is serious about the James Bond feeling; going so far as to open the issue with an homage to the winter chase in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Chase scene aside, Remender does a nice job with Winter Soldier #1. This first issue is an enigma because it opens when Bucky is still under mind control. The Winter Soldier is still a myth, a Russian spook story meant to scare American agents. Is Remender looking to explore the dark history of the Winter Soldier, or is this story a prequel to a bigger arc? It’s a mystery, which is a nice surprise. The majority of this first issue has to do with Nick Fury and Agent Ran, Fury’s number two agent, attempting to get inside Hydra’s lair to rescue the scientists. Fury and Ran go back and forth with crackling spy wit, which is really well written.

The key to the whole issue is how Remender turns it on a dime. Jokes fly, high-octane adventures dominate, and then the Winter Soldier shows up. Suddenly, things become serious, and deadly. Agent Ran, who has been fearless and cocky thus far, begins to show real signs of fear. The Winter Soldier myth is terrifying; the Winter Soldier reality is too much to bear, especially when Ran can’t find Fury and is trying to protect two targets in the open forest in winter. The end of issue #1 practically guarantees a return for issue #2.

Roland Boschi’s art is amazing. Every single panel is a punch right to the jaw of both style and detail. His line work is so odd, but really effective. This is another dip into the Silver Age pool, but Boschi completely makes it his own. How he adds movement, the focus of the panels, even the anatomy of the characters is completely original. There’s an immediacy to Boschi’s work, but balanced with an odd elegance. Helping elevate the work is Chris Chuckry’s amazing color work, which ties everything together stylistically.

(4 Story, 4.5 Art)