21. Winter Soldier (Marvel Entertainment)
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Butch Guice, Michael Lark, and Bettie Breitweiser
Marvel has spent most of 2012 focusing squarely on the Avengers movie and the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover event. However, a few books have managed to find their own identity during this hectic year at the House of Ideas, and one of them is Ed Brubaker’s new Winter Soldier series.
Focusing on the espionage lifestyle of Captain America’s former sidekick, Brubaker's title is a spy/thriller with all of the style and panache of a big-screen epic. With dense plots, great character interaction, and eye-popping action, Winter Soldier completely surprised us when it launched earlier in the year.
The first storyline put Bucky toe-to-toe against the Red Ghost, Dr. Doom, and some skeletons in his closet from his days as a Soviet assassin. Brubaker doesn’t pull many punches here as Winter Soldier is an intense read every month. But for as good as the writing is, the art is even better. Butch Guice brings a bit of an old-school look to this book that is reminiscent of Jim Steranko’s work on Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the ‘60s. This is the perfect book for the James Bond fan in all of us.