Winter Soldier: Second Chances

Winter Soldier: Second Chances is an action packed and soulful story from the creative team of Higgins and Reis. Bucky Barnes, formerly both the Winter Soldier and Captain America, is working with Sharon Carter to help give others second chances.

One person who reaches out for help is Arthur Hayes, a dirty cop who’s in over his head. Bucky turns up in his apartment unexpectedly, and after a fight against the other dirty cops saves Arthur and brings him to a safe place.

In the fight his metal arm is damaged so he has to have Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, fix it for him. He explains to Tony that he and Sharon believe in second chances, seeing as most heroes have them, so they want to offer it to others in dangerous criminal lives. After vetting the people who reach out to them, they set them up with a new life.

Mediating on a memory that he can’t remember, Bucky admits that he hates it. He “hated everything about it.” Being turned into a weapon for the Russian, then being saved, and now saving others. Later on we learn that he is in therapy and still struggles with everything.

Checking up on Arthur, who made a mistake of contacting someone, the dinner they are in is sprayed with gunfire where Arthur is killed. A young teen reveals himself as the shooter and is wearing an outfit reminiscent of Bucky pre-Hydra.

In a flashback of two years prior we see the young man, revealed to be named RJ, is meeting with someone named Mr.Colt to learn how to be a better killer. After testing him in a similar dinner by having him kill two innocent men, Colt has him eat off the floor until he learns how to better use a knife.

Back to the present Bucky manages to beat RJ, but is surprised that the kid put up such a good fight. Deciding that the kid deserves better, knowing full well he’s being manipulated and has a handler, he takes him with him. They are assaulted by Mr. Colt after RJ sends a signal, but Colt explains that he failed the final test of killing and was no longer welcome.

Beating the man to unconsciousness, RJ insists that Bucky kill him. Bucky is more focused on the gun shot wound that RJ got in the fight.

Staying with Bucky for a short time, RJ attends therapy as well but is resistant. Bucky explains that he knows what it’s like for Hydra to control him, but what it means to take that control back. A start is RJ’s name, finding something else than what they called him.

(Note, they say “Rick? Take away the k and make it hip?” is a direct jab at the Nightwing books calling Dick “Ric” now which gave me a solid laugh)

Getting a call from another “client” who’s in hiding, Bucky brings RJ along on a checkup since the person thinks he’s been spotted. The ensuing fight is intense with RJ just barely able to save Bucky.

Then RJ has had it with Bucky, calling him out for the second chance being nonsense. He rants that the people he’s helping aren’t truly safe and that Bucky hasn’t even been able to help himself get over his own trauma.

Bucky agrees; he explains that it’s a long process and some days are better than others. The only thing he can do is keep doing good and the way he is able to do that is help others like himself. RJ seems to understand and agrees to stick around.

Enter: the long lost father, Richie Boyle. Explaining he’s been in jail and searching for him ever since he got out, RJ agrees to hear him out. Learning that he’s a con man with multiple robberies under his belt, Bucky doesn’t trust him.

Right on schedule, men attack Richie in the restaurant and RJ saves him. Learning that he’s in debt to a loan shark the second he’s out of prison, Bucky’s distrust only grows. However RJ defends his father, making a good point that its difficult to start over when you’re fresh out of prison and don’t have the Avenger’s credit card.

Bucky reluctantly agrees, setting them up in a new place that’s safe. Not long after, though, Richie pitches a robbery to RJ who shuts it down. Later though, we see him meeting with some old pals and agrees to the plan. Bucky confronts him and accidentally kills him in the process. Deciding RJ would be better of not knowing, he goes to bury him alone.

Meanwhile, the not dead Mr. Colt confronts RJ in his apartment. After RJ fails to kill him, he shows him photo proof of what Bucky did to his dad. RJ confronts Bucky who feels true remorse and agrees to leave RJ alone.

In the end, RJ blasts Mr. Colt with gunfire in the same matter that he was introduced. He cries for the first time, then runs off into the night.

Final Thoughts

First of all Rod Ries’s art is amazing through the entire series. The contrast between the simplicity of some panels with the clear detail of others helps to portray the emotional tone the series has, as well as the morality the main two characters are struggling with.

The plot itself is an old concept, but done well. The older mentor figure who made mistakes helping a young man from making those same mistakes. This story however does not have a happy ending for anyone, and that difference felt right in a way. The mentor, Bucky, is still struggling to do the right thing and the young man has to make a choice from that.

Overall I enjoyed it. I hope we see more of RJ in the future and what he decides to do. Meanwhile, Bucky just has more guilt to add to his resume.

I’ll give it an 8/10.

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