When Fear Itself 7.1 came out late last year, I remember not looking forward to it all that much, as Bucky had just been killed, and it was supposed to be about his funeral. However, Brubaker subverted all expectations, and instead revealed that Bucky’s death had been faked, and that he was still alive, and as the big kicker, would be getting his own ongoing series early in 2012. Thankfully, Brubaker doesn’t disappoint in this first issue, as Bucky finds himself in a whole world of trouble, as he and Black Widow attempt to find sleeper agents similar to himself, as their locations are sold on the black market and they face to find these agents before anyone else does.
There’s a cool black ops feel to this issue, and although part of me wonders how this book will be able to sustain itself with Bucky not having a supporting cast outside of Black Widow and Agent Sitwell, because he’s thought to be dead by the world at large, at least here in this first issue it isn’t an issue. In fact, this issue reminds me of how Brubaker originally started his run on Captain America, as opposed to his current run on the newly relaunched Captain America, which is a lot less concerned with espionage, etc, and more about brighter superheroics. This is a dark issue, with a conflicted protagonist, whom Bucky understands very well, and it shows with each issue he writes Bucky into.
The majority of this issue is spent on action and covert ops, and it’s a fast-paced introduction to both the title and the character, and gives a taste of what we can expect from this book.
If there’s any failing of this book, however, it’s to be found in the artwork by Butch Guice. Now, don’t’ get me wrong, I’m normally a fan of his work, but here it feels muddied, almost too dark, thanks to the colorist, and at times it wasn’t exactly clear just what was happening on the page. The artwork could definitely be doing a more effective job at portraying not just what’s happening, but also giving what’s occurring more heft, as well as more fluidity. The artwork here feels very rigid and motionless, and it definitely inhibits the book from being a more enjoyable read.
Overall, this is a good first issue, and I can’t wait to see just where Brubaker and Guice are headed with this character. There’s a ton of potential here, and this kind of story and character is what Brubaker excels at, so there’s a high likelihood of this title paying off and being the terrific read it promises to be. I hope that the artwork is clearer and more understandable and concise next issue, because Guice can and has done better artwork than he does here in this issue. Still, I’m in for now, based on the overall strength of this debut issue.