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Winter Soldier #15: Big Shoes to Fill

How can you possibly follow up Ed Brubaker's amazing run? Well, this isn't a bad start.

Winter Soldier #15

I approached Winter Soldier #15 with a great amount of trepidation. When Ed Brubaker left Captain America and Rick Remender took over, he fucked it up. The current Captain America story is just plain stupid and a hollow shell of the Brubaker’s tremendous run. With Brubaker having also recently left Winter Soldier, I was afraid new writer Jason Latour would do something equally as ridiculous. Does he? No. Is Winter Soldier going to continue being one of the better written comics in the Marvel Universe? Hard to tell.

Winter Soldier #15 could have been called “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.” This issue is Latour easing us into his style of writing. Thankfully, he isn’t going as far off the reservation as Remender has with Captain America. There are no new dimensions or televisions popping out of Bucky Barnes’ (aka Winter Soldier) chest. Instead, Latour lets us see his new story arc by writing it around an exposition-heavy scene between Nick Fury and Barnes.

Turns out, after the whole Black Widow ordeal, Barnes has been finding old victims of his time under mind control to try and make amends. As Barnes tries to find redemption, SHIELD is getting very nervous. Winter Soldier is supposed to be dead and dead men don’t apologize. Fury discovers Barnes in a bar in Croatia, where he’s had to beat down several men under the leadership of a Winter Soldier victim. Fury and Barnes engage in a conversation that essentially sets us up to where we are so far.

Latour ends Winter Soldier #15 in a very clever way. He introduces Joe Robards, a SHIELD agent gone awry. Having been undercover for years and having lost the love of his life, this agent walks into a Hydra gambling establishment and kills everybody. Now, Hydra and every assassin in the world is gunning for this man. Barnes heads out to find this agent, but out of guilt, not responsibility. Turns out the great love the agent lost was protecting someone from Barnes when she died. Our hero shows up just in time to help the agent take on Dark Hydra, the arm of the crime unit dedicated to the occult. Latour ends the issue cryptically, but with enough excitement to drive us to issue 16.

I like what Latour has done here. No, he isn’t the caliber of writer Ed Brubaker is, but he has a clear understanding of noir spy thrillers and manages to make this new arc for Winter Soldier tantalizing enough. Only time will tell if Latour can make Winter Soldier his own, but for now, he seems on the right track.

Nic Klein’s art is a bit underwhelming. It’s clear he’s trying to keep a Steve Epting vibe to the work, but never nails it. Some of the shadowing is great, but Klein saturates it to a point of overkill. Nick Fury’s face and some of the action scenes scream for Klein to back off on the shadows. The art is also stiff, it never leaps off the page and joins the story. Each panel just sits there telling its part of the story, they never coalesce properly. Klein’s work isn’t bad, he just needs to work on some of the elements.

For right now, Winter Soldier seems to be in very capable hands

6.5

(4 Story, 2.5 Art)