“Winter Soldier” #18 from Jason Latour and Nic Klein is an origin sidebar for an intriguing supporting character. Tesla Tarasova is an operative entwined in the espionage world built up by Latour and Klein. As the Electric Ghost, Tarasova is an agent who has recognized the Winter Soldier as someone incredibly important to her past. This issue reveals her origin story, brings readers up to speed and then explains why she makes her final decision. It’s a well-told tale that suits the single issue format.
Latour and Klein pick the moments of Tesla Tarasova’s difficult life to share on the page and the result is a brutal portrait of a woman slowly broken over time. Klein frames some of these sequences with lined school paper and doodles in the margins around the credits and story title information. It’s a whimsical choice brilliantly juxtaposed against the brutality of Tesla’s life. It’s almost as if she would have done these things to mentally escape the true everyday horror in which she was entrenched.
Nic Klein’s switching artwork between the flashback origin and the present day meeting between Tesla and the Winter Soldier is superb. It shows on many levels how Klein operates and his mastery of control over the story. The colors for the flashback are muted and still, whereas the sheen of the present day makes it all feel more slick and hi-fi. Klein picks the right moments to show and trims the fat that comes between. This is no doubt aided by Latour’s script, though many times it’s due to Klein’s delivery of a single image that makes the style work.
Ultimately, this is an issue that feels slightly better than it actually is. Klein is a delightful visual draw, but the story of Tesla Tarasova is just a shade away from becoming a classic. It is very good and peppered with solid character moments as well as delicious nods to the wider Marvel U — the meet and greet soiree with an A.I.M. agent eating lobster still in his suit was a hoot. Tesla Tarasova is a fantastic character and this issue serves her well while being a solid character study.
“Winter Soldier” #18 is a very good character origin issue that still weaves into the current tale. It isn’t the finest issue from the Latour/Klein run, but if this is as low as it dips then it’s certainly going well. Tesla Tarasova’s life is something to study and almost mourn over. The mood of this piece is somber and fittingly leads up to her final actions. This is a slow burn spy tale and one that makes you feel it all.