Falcon & Winter Soldier #1 Review

by Charles Martin on February 26, 2020

Falcon & Winter Soldier #1 Review
Writer: Derek Landy
Artist: Federico Vicentini
Colourist: Matt Milla
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The first thing to note about Falcon & Winter Soldier is that the title was dictated by synergy with the upcoming TV series. A more comic-focused approach to titling this would surely give Bucky top billing. And that's all to the good. This is shaping up as a quality Winter Soldier comic, but the Falcon has plenty to do as well.

It starts with Bucky being rousted out of his Indiana home by a horde of assassin-goons that he defeats in a fast, brutal fight scene. 

The Falcon's drawn into the story through a veteran that's gone missing from his support group. Let me digress: This is a tricky blending of MCU Falcon with 616 Falcon that's handled well. Derek Landy makes the connection feel reasonable without falling into the continuity briar patch. (MCU Sam Wilson is a veteran himself, but 616 Sam isn't.)

The heroes come together to discover that further assassination mayhem has afflicted the government counter-terrorism unit Bucky has been working with. They organically team up to track down a survivor and find out what's going on.

"What's going on" seems to be a violent power struggle for the reins of Hydra, and before the issue's done, the heroes meet and fight a nasty new antagonist who might or might not be one of the heirs apparent.

My vagueness in summarizing is partly an attempt not to spoil too much, but it's also a reflection of some ambiguity in Mr. Landy's script. The key plot points are lined up in a way that looks rational, and I can easily infer the links between them. But the script doesn't actually make those links. This isn't necessarily a fault. 

It could be that this fast-moving story wants the reader to just assume "cause A" produces "effect B" in a logical fashion. Or, more interesting, the missing links could be foreshadowing some premise-upsetting twists in the future.

Mr. Landy handles the other parts of the scripting job with even more formidable skill. Bucky and Sam are both characterized well, with smart, distinctive voices and an appealing rapport. 

I'm particularly entranced with the way a Misty Knight cameo is shuffled off-panel, efficiently and hilariously described with a few lines of dialogue instead of being allowed to drain momentum from the main plot. That choice speaks to an author with a fine understanding of his priorities and a respect for his readers' time.

The fast pace really suits the talents of artist Federico Vicentini. He handles character design very well, producing instantly-distinctive protagonists that have no trouble standing out even though they're in civilian clothes most of the time.

It's in the issue's two meaty action scenes where Mr. Vicentini truly shines. He has a knack for picking exotic points of view to develop exciting panels, but the narrative flow is always clear. The art has a strong sense of dynamism, with the motions of combat pulling the viewer's eye steadily from panel to panel.

Matt Milla dresses the book in a no-nonsense palette of muted, down-to-earth colours. They suggest realism and humanity; it suits the mood of the script so far. Mr. Milla also handles Mr. Vicentini's enthusiasm for blood spray in the fight scenes well; the softer reds used on the flying gore makes it look serious instead of lurid.

Bucky takes the lead in this fast-paced espionage thriller, but the Falcon is far from sidelined. With clear, dynamic art conveying the action and a smooth script that effortlessly establishes a compelling dynamic between the leads, this series has all the storytelling horsepower a reader could want. The plot is at the very least serviceable, and further development might easily elevate this into must-read territory.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
When all is said and done, I bet we'll all agree that Bucky's kitty-cat is the glue that holds this series together.