By: Matthew Rosenberg, Travel Foreman, Rachelle Rosenberg, Clayton Cowles
It’s been almost fifty years since the last issue of Tales of Suspense, when it served as a title for the adventures of Captain America and Iron Man. Times have changed since 1968, so for its return as a part of Marvel Legacy, the title has shifted to a new duo, Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier, in their search for the Black Widow. They may not like each other, but they’re determined to see the mission through. As a result, this is the beginning of the buddy spy comic we didn’t know we wanted.
Most of the issue is focused on Clint Barton’s failures in espionage, following leads on the deaths of several targets that he feels are being eliminated by his dead ex-girlfriend. Writer Matthew Rosenberg captures his personality perfectly, that of a humorous, talented agent that too often gets into situations that he might not entirely have planned for. This is contrasted greatly when he meets up with the more serious Bucky, who operates much closer to the chest. While their interaction only takes place within a couple of pages, the conflict in store between these two is immediately apparent. This is enhanced by lettering from Clayton Cowles who highlights some subtle inflections that make this encounter feel much more dynamic.
It’s interesting to see that this book shares some themes with another Marvel Legacy title that starts in the same week, Marvel Two-in-One. Both deal in different ways with denial and using adventuring as a means to respond to grief. Clint and Bucky are in many ways falling back on what they do best, unknowingly seeking some kind of closure for the death of a loved one. Clint even denies that on the first page, only showing how unwilling he is to let go. As for Bucky’s feelings on the matter, unfortunately there isn’t that much to work with for now since he only appears in a limited fashion. But whether Natasha comes back or not at the end of this arc, it’s apparent that this a tale of similarly depressed people working together through their pain. And in the end, it produces some great scenes for a spy thriller.
In keeping with this tone, artist Travel Foreman knows just when to make non-powered action seem superhuman. Every punch and kick is delivered with some blurring to convey motion, making movements feel fast and powerful. Clint’s expressions at the beginning of the issue are sure to warrant a few laughs as he flubs his way through some conversations. Additional touches by color artist Rachelle Rosenberg create some nice looking effects with fire, making embers have an almost otherworldly quality in a tense scene. Red colored panels that match with the discovery of danger fit right in with the secret agent vibe as well.
With a clean slate to start with, Tales of Suspense returns on a strong note. It’s only just getting started, but it provides some solid spy thriller fun and groundwork for more. It works as a follow-up to threads left open in Secret Empire and also fulfills some of the promises of Marvel Legacy. What future impact it might have isn’t entirely apparent, but the personality and soul is there for some great espionage adventures.