It will indeed be a bitter march back home from the comic shop for Winter Soldier fans expecting the title character to have a larger role in “Winter Soldier: The Bitter March” #1 by Rick Remender and Roland Boschi. That’s not to say there’s any real fault with this comic, though; Remender’s 1960s era story is still a straightforward and enjoyable enough cold war spy adventure, and features the original Nick Fury for those who miss the classic incarnation of the character.
In fact, Remender does a pretty fair job of evoking the feel of an old “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” comic, with its European castle full of Hydra agents, flying glider suits, and former Nazi scientists for good measure. The villain briefly showcased in this installment even has a name with powers to match that almost seem like of something Jack Kirby would have come up with. Remender’s dialogue, complete with plenty of sexual innuendo, might not seem in tune with a comic from the sixties, but would certainly seem to fit well in a James Bond flick, and still carries that same secret agent vibe. Some odd and misplaced lines, though, like “We will not be dribbled back and forth as a football!” don’t evoke much of anything, but do invoke some unintended snickers.
Boschi delivers a pretty straightforward effort as well; there are no fancy layouts or dynamic battle sequences, but Boschi’s use of almost exclusively horizontally oriented panels make for a more cinematic kind of feel. There are no crowded or overly-dense pages; instead, the story is allowed to stretch out, and the layouts allow for more background scenery, from the bowels of a secret chamber beneath a castle to the skies and mountains outside. These backdrops play a large part in the texture of the story, as much as Remender’s script, and the retro-thriller sensation is even enhanced by a kind of simplicity that’s reminiscent of veteran artists like Sal Buscema or Ron Frenz in spots; artists who excel at bringing excitement to the page with deceptively simple technique. Boschi’s art doesn’t call attention to itself, but rather solely to the story.
“Winter Soldier: The Bitter March” #1 probably isn’t what many are expecting, but the issue is no worse for it. Even without a significant role for the main character, Remender and Boschi build up the start of a decent period piece with a few noticeable but forgivable bumps.