Undercover again, Bucky is able to show us everything he's capable of. In other words, we get to see how much ass he can kick month after month.
I was a tiny bit concerned over Butch Guice not handling the art duties here but recalling Michael Lark's style and the fact that Bettie Breitweiser was still doing the colors was enough to quell any concerns I had.
From the very beginning, Bettie's colors immediately set the tone for the story we get. Lark's art captures the essence of what Brubaker wants to convey in his script. I was also concerned that there were only three sleeper agents and that Bucky had already dealt with two of them. This final one might prove to be something a little different. With that, we get a flashback and again, the colors do a brilliant job of separating the past from the present.
The way Brubaker sets the story up is almsot with a subtle creepiness. Bucky doesn't have the most pleasant life right now. He feels an obligation in putting an end to this problem and that atmosphere oozes from the pages. You can almost feel it creeping into your pores as you touch each page in order to move on to the next.
There's also something about the scenes with Bucky and Black Widow. Brubaker doesn't have to fully describe what is going on between the two of them but you can easily just feel the bond they have.
With all that being said, there isn't a whole lot of immediate action taking place. We need to find out more of what happened before and we don't have any giant gorillas with machine guns or Doombots to crank up the action. But none of that is needed at all. I could easily find myself reading and enjoying an extended version of this issue with more of the same.
And of course we get a brutal ending that is really only the beginning of this arc.
I still feel Bucky is being too careless with his 'secret identity.' He may not really have one but the fact that the world is supposed to believe he is dead is a good reason to try to prevent others from finding out. We've already seen others, including Doctor Doom discover that he's still alive. But of course, we can assume that this is all part of Brubaker's plan.
The more Brubaker-written issues I read of Bucky, the more I love the character. I could not imagine anyone else attempting to write this story right now. Brubaker's stories always feel like they've been brewing for months, if not years. It was way back in CAPTAIN AMERICA #619 where the seeds of this story were first planted. What makes it all even better is Brubaker manages to get a great creative team to help him tell the story. Michael Lark was the perfect choice and I can never say enough nice things about how much I enjoy Bettie Breitweiser's colors. It's no surprise that WINTER SOLDIER continues to be one of my favorite titles month after month. Brubaker has me hooked and I can never get enough.