[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
We meet RJ, a young man recruited by Hydra to be one of their assassins. His initiation involves a bloody meeting in a diner with a Hydra agent and a knife. In the present, he is dressed in garb similar to that of Bucky Barnes in World War II and attempting to kill Bucky himself, the Winter Soldier. The fight is short and brutal, and the Winter Soldier barely survives. He takes RJ with him to a rendezvous with his allies. However, RJ isn’t ready to surrender yet, and Hydra doesn’t let go of its agents so easily.
Winter Soldier #2 finds Bucky Barnes clashing with a young man eerily reminiscent of himself, write down to the clothing. This puts Bucky’s new mission of saving people from their own circumstances in further perspective; this kid is literally Bucky for Hydra.
It’s a bit on the nose, but it doesn’t lack poignancy. A story where the hero actively tries to reform people already cuts against the grain of “punch bad guy, throw ‘em in jail.” Plus, I like the potential for Bucky to have his own Bucky.
What will be interesting to see is how the comic reckons with the outright depravity of RJ’s crimes as well as his agency in them. He is framed as a poor, starving, and likely orphaned child, but he has already killed many people.
The action sequences in the comic are quite good. Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis give us a play-by-play of the fight between Bucky and RJ, which suits the martial arts-focused nature of Bucky well. Reis’ artwork is excellent throughout, giving the introduction of RJ himself an especially disquieting treatment. The color work is great throughout, giving the comic an interesting and distinctive atmosphere.
Winter Soldier #2 puts Bucky’s new mission to the test by pitting him against a kid all too similar to himself. The Winter Soldier may have met his match in more ways than one. Mix that solid storytelling with excellent artwork from Rod Reis and you have a comic well worth recommending. Check it out.
Winter Soldier #2 comes to us from writer Kyle Higgins, artist and cover artist Rod Reis, and letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles.