In Marvel Comics’ Falcon & Winter Soldier #2, on sale March 25, writer Derek Landy adds new layers to the mystery surrounding Hydra’s resurgence by forcing the heroes to work with a vile villain. Plus, he pits Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes against each other in a battle of moral superiority that purposefully leaves the reader unsure where to stand.
Falcon & Winter Soldier #2
Writer: Derek Landy
Artist: Federico Vicentini
Color Artist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
“You’re Not The Punisher, Buck.”
Landy takes some of the seeds he planted in the series’ first issue and turns them into strong narrative threads. The dynamic between Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes continues to carry the story; again, the duo butts heads for their crime-fighting methods. Whereas Sam prefers to fight like Steve Rogers and avoid killing, Bucky’s willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. When the former Captain Americas regroup after they were dealt a setback last issue, Sam gives Bucky a speech about why killing is wrong. Using The Punisher as his main example, Sam tells Bucky he’s better than that. Bucky maintains his philosophy — killers deserve to be killed — but Sam doesn’t budge. Despite Sam’s attempt to take the moral high ground, Landy continues to plant doubt in the reader’s mind by showing that Sam and Bucky are more alike than they think.
Throughout the issue, the art team augments this comparison. Artist Federico Vicentini depicts a lengthy fight scene on a train. Sam and Bucky both get a lot of blood on their hands, and Vicentini and color artist Matt Milla make Sam look particularly brutal; he constantly grits his teeth while he brutalizes some wannabe assassins. The art teami plants some natural irony in the issue when Falcon beats the daylights out of some goons right after he criticizes Bucky’s tendency to use lethal force. There’s room to flesh out this hypocrisy but, for now, the creative team’s subtlety is working. As Sam and Bucky continue to investigate Hydra’s latest revival, the potential conflict remains the series’ main draw.
“Cut Off One Head…”
It wouldn’t be a spy thriller without a moral grey area. Here, Bucky and Sam are forced to work with one of Captain America’s most heinous villains. Landy firmly suggests the heroes are better off working with the devil they know than they are dealing with a new, unpredictable threat. As with Sam’s characterization in the fight scene, Landy shows readers the dark side of the superhero world. Bucky’s so outraged to see the villain that he holds a gun to his head and yells, “Can you reverse a gunshot to the head? Vicentini conveys Bucky’s rage by featuring stress lines on his face and a half-crazed look in his eyes. Eventually, cooler heads prevail, but it’s quickly becoming clear that Cap wouldn’t completely approve of this mission.
The second installment of Falcon & Winter Soldier takes the best parts of its predecessor and makes them even more compelling. Landy interrogates the assumed superiority of superheroes with “no kill” policies and crafts a mystery thriller that leaves the reader wanting more. Hopefully, the next issue will ramp up the suspense to make this story a genuine thriller.
What’d you think of Falcon & Winter Soldier #2? Do you agree with Sam, or do you share Bucky’s perspective?