You have to wonder how far along Ed Brubaker has mapped up Bucky's story. I won't go into what an amazing job he's done in bringing Bucky back, filling in his back story and moving him forward as both a hero and victim of the Cold War. When it seemed he was killed off in FEAR ITSELF, many of us knew that couldn't be the case. Brubaker had invested too much in crafting and evolving Bucky that there was no way the story could be over. Now Bucky has a new mission to take him to places he couldn't go before.
It was in Captain America #619 that we saw the seed planted for this new direction for Bucky. The revelation that there were other sleeper agents that Bucky helped trained left the door open. Obviously Bucky feels responsible for some of it. This isn't something the general public can know. With the world thinking he's dead, he has the perfect cover or as he puts its, "...the best thing about being a dead man...you can do anything you want." That is enough of a set up to put a big smile on my face. With Black Widow by his side, there is plenty of spy-action, romance and undercover elements taking place in some of the darker areas of the Marvel Universe.
Brubaker's script is brilliantly executed by Butch Guice and Bettie Breitweiser's art and color. Reading this is like getting a comic with a cool filter on it. This doesn't feel like a regular Marvel comic. Having Bucky and Black Widow travel around the dark corners is how this should be. In order for Bucky to have the perfect cover, the world needs to believe he's dead. Unless he's going to start wearing a mask, they will have to be extra careful or be sure to deal with any loose ends along the way. The idea of hidden enhanced agents of mass destruction floating around is a cool and scary idea. Seeing Bucky's thoughts about what it must have been like frozen between missions adds to who he is and what he's been through. Even though the idea of Bucky as the Winter Soldier feels like it was explored long ago in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA, it feels like there is still plenty to be said.
This is what I want to see done with Bucky Barnes. There are three sleeper agents he's looking for. Hopefully there will be more than enough story to tell while searching for those three. I'd love to see this series carry on for a long while but eventually a different story line will have to come up. How long can Bucky operate with the world thinking he's dead? Let's not worry about that for now.
Ed Brubaker laid out the groundwork for this new direction for Bucky. Getting "killed" during FEAR ITSELF was the best thing that could have happened. His time as Captain America was a great read but after his years as the Winter Soldier, espionage should now be where he excels. With a story that started in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA, Bucky (along with Black Widow at his side) are on the hunt for other sleeper agents he helped train. The colorful costumes are gone and now it's time to go undercover. We should be visiting new and different areas in the Marvel Universe. Brubaker is joined by the perfect creative team with Butch Guice and Bettie Breitweiser perfectly capturing the mood this book deserves. The series is off to a great start and if you're not already sold on this direction, you will be by the time you finish the first issue.
This issue is on sale Wednesday, February 1, 2012.