ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier,’ Issue #1

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Devil’s Reign Winter Soldier #1 - But Why Tho

Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier #1 is a one-shot tie-in published by Marvel Comics. Written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. The artist is Nico Leon. The colours are by Felipe Sobreiro and the letterer is Joe Caramagna. This is part of the Devil’s Reign event.

Wilson Fisk has files on everyone. Every hero and villain has their information stored in a folder in his mansion. Identities, families, anything he can find out. But his folder on Daredevil is blank. His rage at this assault on his mind led to him declaring war on the superheroes in New York and stealing the powers of Wilson Fisk. In the dead of night, Winter Soldier breaks into the Gracie Mansion, hoping to recover the file that contains pieces of his life he can’t remember.

The concept and setup of the issue are fantastic. It brings the Winter soldier into the vent with a clever idea whilst not forcing a connection. Kingpin’s files have been a crucial piece of information in this crossover, and Bucky’s thirst for closure about his life draws him into his world. The structure is self-contained with all of the action happening inside this one-shot. For much of Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier #1, the story plays out like a spy-thriller as the title character breaks in. It’s patient and slow. Although the reader probably knows what is going to happen, Lanzing and Kelly ensure that they are taken on a journey before that happens. And when it does, there is a pang of horror as a twist is revealed. There is a scary nature in the comic and a powerful intensity. The battle is brutal and engaging, the pressure mounting on every page. 

The writers also beautifully tamper with time inside the comic. There is a brief flashback at the start, but the comic does more than simply separate the periods of time. Instead, it blends the past and the present on the same page, creating a mystery and expertly helping the reveal. The events of the comic also have weight and importance, leading directly into the upcoming Captain America series.

There are very few characters within this issue, with Bucky and Fisk taking up 98 percent of the cast. Both figures are expertly scripted. Our hero doesn’t speak very often, with narration allowing him to move through the building in silence. The character development within this issue is fantastic. Not only does it offer some painful answers for Bucky, but it shows where his head is. There is an acceptance of his past and an understanding that he can’t completely separate from it. The Winter Soldier is part of him and he knows that. Also, he is an outsider in this community of heroes, but his actions seek to aid others that don’t even know him.

Fisk is also used brilliantly here. Even for an elite assassin like the Winter Soldier, the Mayor of New York shows just how powerful he is. The opening pages portray his mental state just as profoundly as it does Bucky’s. His mind is constantly working and running, unable to slow. So he actually has to command himself to stop thinking. Order himself to sleep. These are factors that are very important for the plot.

The art is incredible. Leon’s art style perfectly fits the espionage part of the comic. So much of the page is shrouded in darkness, with thick line weights increasing the negative space of the panel. The shadows can often be used to created silhouettes and objects, sending shivers down the spine when the reader realizes what is happening. A lot of panels’ contents are merely black and white shapes. There are some intricate details, with smudges and patterns denoting so much. The facial expressions are given particular attention but aren’t overloaded with lines. But emotions such as rage and fear are clear to see. Fisk is depicted as a hulking giant. The proportions aren’t necessarily consistent, but that doesn’t matter inside this book. His sheer size dwarves the Winter Soldier, making him look impassible.

The colours are awesome. Sobreiro frequently uses black, white, and a primary colour for each page. This third colour often is used to denote a location and changes as the pages turn. Outside the mansion, there is an abundance of blue. Inside, red is caked into so much of the page. And there is a brief flashback, more like a single memory, that is given yellow. Each colour is varied in how it is displayed in the panels as different shades and tones, with a breadth of different textures too. The red inside the mansion is intense and intentionally blurs the lines between what is a blaring alarm and bloodstains.

The lettering is clear and easy to read. With a comic heavily filled with black and white, caption boxes that have a black background and white text may blend too easily inside the panel. To prevent this. Caramagna places the boxes where there is white space.

Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier #1 is a fantastic spy-thriller. Although Winter Soldier is invading Kingpin’s home, the comic brings Devil’s Reign into the world that Bucky Barnes lives in. The dark aesthetic actually suits both the characters as an awesome story unfolds. It’s small in its scale and the cast, allowing for incredible development into two amazing characters. Lanzing can be both upfront and subtle about the messages they convey, many of the real development coming from implications. The fight scene in the comic is immense and ingenious, turning a quiet issue into a loud and violent clash. 

Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier #1 is available where comics are sold on January 26.

Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier #1


Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier #1 is a fantastic spy-thriller.

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