Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier #1 and Guardians 3000 #1 (Comics Review)

As I’ve mentioned before elsewhere, October 2014 is a big month for Marvel in that the publisher is launching its third big wave of new comics under the Marvel NOW! banner, Avengers NOW! The month sees the release of lots of new titles, such as this week’s Thor featuring a new Thor, a woman this time, among many others. With the end of the recent Original Sin event series, there have been some really big shake-ups in the Marvel universe, and the publisher is using the event to spring-launch lots of new books, alongside all of the new ones it launched previously in 2014.

Two other new titles this week are Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier and Guardians 3000, which are as different from Thor as you can get, and even with each other. The former sees Bucky taking on the role of the dead Nick Fury as the “Man on the Wall”, which was revealed in Original Sin, while the latter sees the Marvel NOW! debut of the original “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Both titles are quite fun to read with some interesting artwork, but they aren’t wholly consistent, in one way or another, so they are not as impressive as they could have been, but I do see some great potential in both of them, especially the former since it features a character I am much more aware of rather than the latter.

Note: This review contains major spoilers for Original Sin.

Bucky Barnes Winter Soldier - Guardians 3000Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier #1 picks up from where Original Sin #8 left off, with Bucky having taken on the role of Earth’s protector from threats both internal and external, but mostly external. His new job, conferred on him by none other than Nick Fury, is to be Earth’s guardian in the shadows, to stop threats before they can become just that. This is a job that Nick Fury performed for several decades and the Nick Fury that the Avengers and other heroes have known for several years was little more than an elaborate Life Model Decoy. But now the original Nick Fury has died, and has passed on his responsibilities to Bucky, who was chosen out of a group of several heroes, and this first issue details one of his first missions.

Ales Kot’s writing here is tight and interesting for the most part. He tries to get into Bucky’s head with this first issue, and he succeeds for the most part. Bucky has been many things over the years: a U.S. Army officer in World War II, the assassin/mercenary Winter Soldier, Captain America, himself, and more. Now he is something grander, performing a job that almost no one will ever be aware of, a most thankless task in the end. All of that really comes through in this issue, and that’s why I liked it as much as I did.

But, there were some moments where I felt that the story was too convoluted and that it wasn’t making sense. Which is where the art comes in. Marco Rudy is the man tasked with bringing Ales Kot’s vision to the pages of this comic, and for the most part he does well, but there are often scenes where I have no idea what is happening. It reminds me of the art from Marvel Knights: Spider-Man, from last year I think, one that I didn’t enjoy at all. My reaction to Marco’s art is nowhere near as extreme, but some of his panel layouts really tripped me up, and it was quite a psychedelic hallucinatory experience. Kind of.

I applaud Marco’s artistic choices, but I also wish that he would tone it down for future issue, so what’s happening on the pages is that much clearer. And Ales Kot seems to be in a good place here with the character and story, so I’m looking forward to him exploring more of that in future issues.

Rating: 8/10

Guardians 3000 #1 is quite a different comic from the ongoing Guardians of the Galaxy. For one, it doesn’t deal with the team that we are familiar with from recent years, the team that made its way into movie theaters just about 2 months back. And second, it is set in the year 3000, or close enough to it to justify the title.

The first issue jumps straight into the action, and it introduces everyone almost from the get go. It is an approach that can sometimes work, and the reverse is also true, which was the case here for me. I’m not familiar at all with the Guardians as they were before Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning rebooted the property a few years back, and when I read the brief intro on the first page, I was expecting to see the first issue as a large intro for what happens to be quite an interesting cast of characters. But that’s not exactly the case since Dan isn’t able to delve into the characters aside from some basic point-sketching.

The story is an interesting one and the issue held me locked to my seat until I was done reading, but I was also left with a distinct sense of wanting more. The first issue isn’t quite the satisfactory issue I’d hoped it would be, and that’s a disappointment, but thankfully the story of the Hideaway Parliament, the Guardians, the Badoon, and the particular twist introduced in the middle of the book more than make up for all of that. And the issue ends on a strong note that promises something grander and more epic.

Gerardo Sandoval  is the penciller here with Edgar Delgado on colours, VC’s Clayton Cowles on the letters and Alex Ross on that fantastic cover. I rather liked the artwork in this issue. Gerardo gives each character a lot of screen-time and he doesn’t stint on anything. His Yondu Udonta is absolutely amazing and so is Vance Astro once he really gets going on the Badoon. And the grand scenes involving the Hideaway Parliament are also good, with each member standing out in terms of design and intent alike.

Guardians 3000 #1 is kind of a rough issue at the start, but it does build up towards the end, so I can certainly recommend it.

Rating: 7.5/10

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