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Winter Soldier: The Bitter March # 3

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by Rick Remender, Roland Boschi and Chris Chuckry w/ Matt Wilson.

The title is a bit of a misnomer, the book is a 1966 mission tale of  S.H.I. E.L.D. agent Ran Shen to secure two important scientists from the likes of both Hydra and pre Cold War USSR agents. The USSR has placed the Winter Soldier with the task of eliminating Shen and anyone or anything that stands in the way of procuring the scientists and their Alchemy Formula. The odds are stacked against agent Shen; he’s alone, trapped in close quarters relying only on his training and wits to get him and the Hitzig scientists out of harm’s way.

The book is a nod and wink to spy thrillers popular both at the time of the story and today, including Marvel’s Captain America: the Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier depicted in the book resembles the incredible machine of the agent that is portrayed on the big screen. He’s unstoppable, devoid of emotion and calculating but retains just enough humanity to keep him interesting and believable. In contrast against the unstoppable Bucky, Agent Shen’s character is a bit more fly by the seat of his pants. Shen’s dialogue and mannerisms frame him as an agent that is a quick study of James Bond and Nick Fury. Shen’s charming and flawed.  The dichotomy between Shen and the Winter Soldier is what makes this an interesting and engaging read.

In accordance with the two issues previous, Rick Remender wastes no time moving the story from the cliffhanger ending of the last issue and head long into the action of this issue. Remender’s backdrop, a train speeding through snow covered mountains heading for West Berlin, is a natural fit. The train’s tight close quarters and speed match the story pace that Remender has mastered in his books such as Fear Agent and Black Science. The dialogue is good, although, at times it is a bit expository in nature, especially in the panels containing the two scientists.

Roland Boschi’s art on the issue enhances the quick action pacing. Both Boschi and color artists Chuckry and Wilson compliment the pace and readability of the story. Action panels are not overly complicated, the art and colors are clean and precise. There are panels that contain facial expressions that successfully illustrate the pain, surprise and desperation of the characters.

At first glance, Winter Soldier may appear to be a movie tie in or attempt to cash in on the movie’s popularity; it is, however, a good serialized pulp espionage tale. The book could have easily been just that. What it has been for three issues is fun, energetic tale of agent Shen in his harrowing escape from insurmountable odds.  Recommended for Remender fans, espionage enthusiast and of course fans of the movie that this only somewhat resembles.

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