Monday, March 19, 2007

Origins and Endings: Part IV of V (Marvel comics)
Wolverine #39 When: April 2006
Why: Daniel Way How: Javier Saltares & Mark Texeira

The story so far...
During the Second World War, Bucky Barnes was sidekick to Captain America and tommy-gun wielding posterboy for the war against the Nazis! His will was almost as indominitable as his mentor's, and like the hero he was, he died fighting the fight... Or so it was thought.

In the time between then and now, Bucky Barnes' frozen body was recovered by the Russians. Lost limbs were replaced with cybernetics, and the boy called Bucky was reprogrammed to become the heartless assassin called Winter Soldier.

As the Winter Soldier he performed many assassinations and murders throughout the years, even as the Cold War came to an end. He would inevitably cross the path of old associates and friends of friends. One such mission brought him into contact with the Wolverine, where he would killed his wife and unborn child.
Revenge is a dish best served cold...

Previous Form:
Wolverine (#3): Wolverine has victories over Lobo, Lady Deathstrike, Silver Samurai and Blade.
Winter Soldier: The Winter Soldier has not yet been featured.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Draw 3 (Trained Athlete)
Intelligence: Draw 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Wolverine 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Wolverine 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Winter Soldier 3 (Explosives)

Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, but what he does is ugly.
Winter Soldier was once a shell spraying monkey boy, but the Russians trained him up real good to be a finely tuned [cyborg] killing machine!

So, how do you break this one down?
Bucky's development puts him in a class perhaps even above Captain America. His cybernetic enhancement increases his strength capacity (by a half), he's had all manner of tactical training, and perhaps most important is the fact that he's willing to employ all of his skills in the most devious of ways.

Wolverine's no stranger to crossing certain lines, and he too is said to have the training of a soldier, samurai, special operative and various other disciplines.

I guess it's a surprisingly even fight, really.
Keys to victory kinda go out the window. I could talk about the advantage of getting the drop could favour them both, or talk about healing factors and guns and explosions and whatever else. But it would be for moot, and I'm running late...

The Math: Wolverine (Meta Class)
The Pick: Wolverine

What went down...
So Wolvie's got the word out that he's looking for the Winter Soldier, and hitched a ride with some smugglers all the way to Serbia just to make it nice and easy.
Because in Serbia, Winter Soldier find YOU!

Heading for the bar for a quick drink becomes difficult when a sniper shot strikes Wolverine in the head above his eye. Gushing blood helps blind him as he goes on the hunt, claws extended.

The sniper, quite obviously Winter Soldier, is no dummy.
Wolverine heads to the location of the shooter to find a fully functioning printing press complete with ink and paper smells in the air, and the audible ruckus of pounding machines. Thus negating the tracking advantage provided by his senses.

Wolverine greets his friend with an unusually sissy scream!Bucky looms in the shadows brandishing a knife, and finally springs his attack as Wolverine stalks past him. He stabs him in the back. Those Russians sure know how to play dirty! Dirty like a fox!

Covered in ink to further mask his scent (and apparently not dying of asphyxiation), Bucky follows the ambush, snapping up his foe with handcuffs, pinning both of Wolverine's greatest weapons behind his back.

Wolverine slips into a berzerker rage as the inky Winter Soldier falls into his peripheral vision. He charges and pays for his lack of discipline with a thundering kick to the back of the head.

Put down hard, the Soldier pushes the knife deeper into his side with his boot, and then grabs Wolverine by the hair to anchor him while he retrieved his blade.
The tiny knife appears to cause many more problems than being impaled on a sword did in the past. [Blade #5]

Is that another knife in my back, or are you just happy to see me?The Soldier puts a blade to Wolverine's throat with a promise for a near death experience for the immortal mutant, but he underestimates the lengths the primal rage pushes Wolverine to.
Being clutched by the hair, Wolverine whips his head forward willingly, leaving a chunk of hair behind, but taking a chunk of arm into his jaws.

Winter Soldier uses his cybernetic arm and pounds the back of Logan's skull, with Wolverine eventually forced to relinquish his grip. With his wrist bloodied, the Soldier is flipped by the grounded Wolverine, and as the X-Man cum Avenger looms over him, he shatters his way free of the handcuffs.

Just as a fair fight appears imminent, a feminine voice comes out from the gloom and snaps Wolverine out of his insane rage. She fires off a few shots.

Two shots to the heart drop him down against a printing machine. Bummer!
The Winter Soldier chastises his rescuer. Pffft. He just wanted the win to go to his name, alone.

The hammer...
Well, despite a shakey finish, this one goes to the Winter Soldier and his mystery accomplice. If anyone wants to clarify who she is, that would be most appreciated. In the mean time, I'll look into it.

So, I know what a lot of you are probably thinking.
When the Winter Soldier rolls over for Marvel Ultimate Alliance Mondays, straight off the back of Captain America's death, you'd think I might go with the more topical showdown of Bucky vs Cap.
Well, much to my chagrin, this is the only issue I have that involves Winter Soldier actually fighting someone. I'm hoping to change that, but that will await a call from the comic store, so, sorry to disappoint.

Suffice to say you wouldn't be the only one disappointed. As the time may suggest, this wasn't an easy one to sit down and write. As fun as it is to see Wolverine establish new nemesis in history, this just isn't an inspired piece of writing. Likewise, as I probably mentioned during the other feature from this story [Wolverine #37], I'm really not crazy about the art, or the colour palette.

About the best thing to come out of this storyline was something I stumbled across reading New Avengers #28, last night. An issue which features the New Avengers in Japan, where they seek refuge at the home of the Silver Samurai, who appears to be in something of a depressed funk after losing his hand in the afforementioned issue.
So, I have to say, that was a very pleasant piece of continuity. After the clash in #37, I honestly expected it to be palmed off somehow via a cybernetic hand, or some other nonsense along those lines.

I've mentioned before that, of the two sidekicks that returned, this site probably leans further toward Red Hood. For whatever reason I've responded to the Red Hood's transition back into the DC universe much moreso than I have Bucky's.

I mentioned during Cap/Punisher [What if...? #51] that I personally feel bringing Bucky around from a cold blooded Russian assassin to a potential replacement for Captain America is too steep an arc. I think just the fact that he's a working SHIELD agent now is disappointing, and that's probably part of what splices my feelings about the two characters. Jason Todd has not only maintained his villainy, but integrated it into the existing world quite naturally, particularly in the Winick run on Batman.

In Ultimate Alliance Winter Soldier shows up early in a pretty dull role.
I don't remember how much we got into it in the Punch-Up, but as far as a gaming experience goes, you're probably not going to buy this if you don't have an affinity for the characters already. Maybe if you're looking to meet a bunch of characters in one interactive fell swoop, there's incentive there too, but the gameplay, and particularly the story are not inspired.

As with many of the many characters featured, Winter Soldier is little more than a lowly pawn in this new incarnation of the Masters of Evil. A group led by a cuckoo for Coco Puffs Dr. Doom, which is never a characterization I'm a fan of.
Thus, that trickles down to guys like ol' Bucky Barnes here, who are probably playing below their weight. And yeah, for all the characters that are there, so many aren't, like Tombstone, whom I'm sure you're all thinking of right now.

Anyway, that's Winter Soldier for now. Might see him again in the future.

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 3

NEXT WEEK: It's Radioactive Man and the Thunderbolts!

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