Review: Falcon & Winter Soldier (Comic)

 The titular duo goes from the screen to the page!

Written by Derek Landy, Art by Federico Vicentini & Cover by Dan Mora.

What Marvel & DC do a lot off is what we like to call the ‘movie tie-in’ comics. When a big, brand new movie is near release the big two start turning out a comic book series that follow the same basic setup, elements and/or set of characters. From a business perspective, it makes sense. By having a comic that has the same name as the movie/share heavy elements its more likely to attract the movie viewers and, hopefully, turn those people into avid comic book readers. More often than not though, the quality of these books is below-par. These books are more focused on serving as a marketing tool than being a good story. But sometimes a tie-in book comes around that’s actually pretty darn good. Such is the case for today’s review subject.

Released last year, around the same time the Disney+ series was supposed to drop, was Falcon & Winter Soldier. I put this comic series on the list mainly to serve as a lead up to said series as well as allowing me the opportunity to talk about these kinds of tie-ins. To my surprise, the book is genuinely good and enjoyable. Why? Because it’s not really concerned by serving as a tie-in, but just tells a story of its own. 

Let’s dive in. 

Falcon & Winter Soldier opens with Bucky Barnes, The Winter Soldier, getting attacked by a group of armed gunmen in his house. He manages to escape and sets out to find who sent the gunmen after him and why. The trail leads him to an office building where his current ‘employer’, part of his conditional pardon, is stationed. He finds everyone in the office dead and The Falon arriving at the office shortly after him. Sam Wilson is looking for Sally McKenzie, a woman in his veteran support group that has gone missing. The trail has to lead him to the office building. Buck notices that his handler, Veronica Eden, is not amongst the bodies. While talking with Veronica about the situation and if she knows anything, they are ambushed by a young-man who makes quick work of them, lets slip that Hydra is making and kidnaps Veronica. It’s now up to Falcon and The Winter Soldier to find both women and try and stop Hydra while they’re at it.

Falcon & Winter Soldier succeeds where other tie-ins of this kind fail because, again, it doesn’t seem to be very concerned with closely adhering to the project it’s meant to be a tie-in for. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is, at the time of me writing this, not yet out. However, from the trailers and pre-release information, I can already tell that the tone of the two is vastly different. The Disney+ show is going to tackle some very serious subjects such as race relations. It’s going to be a show that, while will definitely have the MCU feel, is going to be more serious.

This comic on the other hand is very much a lighter, humorous affair. The book is packed with small, recurring-jokes, humorous exchanges and visual references. What it also does differently is the relationship between Sam and Bucky. The relationship between the two is different in the comics then it is in the MCU. Less out-right animosity and more respect. While there’s still plenty of bickering, like we’ve seen in the trailers, it’s much more good-hearted. They are much better friends in the comics and Landy didn’t force them to suddenly gain animosity for each other to mimic the MCU and the book is better out for it. All of this makes for a very enjoyable book that can stand on its own apart from the Disney+ series, even with the occasional ‘carry-over’ such as Baron Zemo.

A quick little panel The Winter Soldier and Falcon in action. So you can get a look at the art.

While it does a lot right, it doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. Falcon and Winter Soldier has its own fair share of flaws. For starters, the much more humorous tone can be very distracting at times. It, ironically, goes the MCU way of being too jokey and humorous. Often tension is lost due to a joke getting thrown in there. The entire humorous and light tone can also be a problem for people if that’s not there cup of tea. Another flaw of this book is the pacing. It can be very chaotic at times, jumping around places a lot or developments passing by rather quickly. Lastly, the story is pretty predictable. While I was reading it I said to myself things as: ‘Oh, character A is probably secretly a villain’ and ‘Baron Zemo’s apprentice? Sounds like a misdirect to me’. And would you look I was right on both accounts and many more. It might be predictable, but the journey is still enjoyable The ending was pretty sweet as well, so it doesn’t leave you hanging or anything like that.

These problems are not that big of a deal, at least to me personally, as the book is still a very enjoyable romp throughout. The character work is very well done. Not only the bond between Sam and Bucky but also with a third character. Leaving that one intentionally vague so you’ll be able to experience that for yourself should you decide to pick this book up. The art is making the entire story very pleasant on the eyes. The humour and tone make the book very enjoyable to read. If you like such a thing, that is.

Conclusion

If you’re interested in Falcon & Winter Soldier, if you want to read something to prepare yourself for the Disney+ series that features these characters, then I would recommend you pick this book up. It's different from what that series will bring to the table, undoubtedly, but it’s a good story focusing on Sam & Bucky nonetheless. Also: you won’t get spoiled by that show’s development if you read this comic in favour of, let’s say, the original story arc that introduced US Agent way back in the ’70s.

A trade of the original 5-issue mini-series is out now so you’ll be able to get the series in a convenient package for not that much money at all.

 

Signing this review off with this panel because, well, I can. And no. I will not give you guys any context!

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