Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Winter Men Winter Special

Written by Brett Lewis
Art by John Paul Leon

Well, this is a book I never thought I'd see come out (and on time at that)! This comic first came out back in 2005, and was supposed to be eight issues long. As it continued, slowly, it got squeezed down to six issues, but the sixth comic was never solicited until a couple of months ago, when it became this issue here.

What with Wildstorm's history of just canceling titles before they complete (Stormwatch: Team Achilles), it is a huge surprise to me that this book ever saw the light of day. And I'm very happy that it did.

This series is about a group of ex-Soviet superheroes, who wore mechanized armor very similar to DC's Rocket Reds, and how they are making a life for themselves in the post-Soviet Russia of corrupt oligarchs and mafioso. It is also about strange weapons being produced in secret cities, the black-market organ trade, and the difficulty of staying married. It is an excellent series. The early issues had a different voice to them - the dialogue was Russified, and the entire series was structured very much like a Russian novel, with long asides and a tapestry-like plot.

In this issue, Lewis and Leon have to finish things up quickly, and so have to trade off some of their Russian novel style for the quicker bang of a Hollywood movie, but with their own peculiar sensibilities showing through. The first page serves as a slight re-cap, mostly just showing us names and faces, but it has Kalenov, the protagonist, say, "My little friends, I thought I would have more time to tell you how things ended up. But perhaps for now... I will just tell you the good parts..." before launching us into the story.

I'd meant to re-read the first 5 issues before getting to this, but never got the chance. Regardless, I got caught up quickly, and really enjoyed seeing this story through to the end. Leon's artwork was perfect for this book - bleak and dirty, like so much of the world he portrays, yet also beautiful. The lettering of John Workman Jr. also stands out in this comic, matching the incredible work he did on Simonson's Thor run years ago.

If you haven't been reading this series, I strongly recommend you pick up the inevitable trade. It's one of the best comics of 2005!

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