So, this was Brubaker’s final arc, and I’ve been reading it and waiting for that real punch he has at the end of an arc, and I was expecting double seeing as it’s the end of his run on the book—a book of his very favorite character, no less—and I’m sitting here not even feeling the first punch, and I think it’s because this entire arc just feels steeped in editorial mandate.
I mean, think about it: Brubaker’s the crime and espionage GUY. This is what he does. These are the stories he tells the very, very best. He is one of the people responsible for bringing crime comics back into being as a THING.
Is Ed Brubaker really the guy who’s gonna write the arc of Black Widow getting double brain-washed and simply reverting back to her old patterns as a ballerina/Soviet spy? Does this feel like a Brubaker story to you? Like, in its bones, does it feel like something Brubaker pitched and wrote all by himself?
It doesn’t feel that way to me. It feels sort of hollow in the center, like there was something else there and editorial came down and said, “Oh, Ed, no. You can’t do that because you’re leaving the book, and the new guy coming on has all these plans, so we’ve decided you need to do X, Y, and Z rather than A, B, and C.”
I just can’t believe this was 100% Brubaker. I can’t believe the guy who so loves Bucky that he demanded to be able to bring him back if they REALLY wanted him to be the guy relaunching Cap is the same guy who would go so far as to take Nat completely out of the picture. Leave them a little broken and unsure of one another? Yes. Continue on the narrative that Bucky is still considered dead? Yes. But to wipe Natasha’s memory of ONLY Bucky? Really? That’s the best Ed Brubaker does with a baddie who has the brainwashing power. Wipes out ONLY Bucky. Doesn’t scramble her circuits so she has to relearn anything; doesn’t leave it uncertain if she can really be trusted or not; just wipes her mind of Bucky.
Brubaker writes crime. Brubaker writes espionage. Brubaker doesn’t write soap opera tricks 101.
But maybe I’m too biased towards him and against editorial. I dunno. I blamed them for Fear Itself, and that was conceived and pitched by Fraction, so I try not to always assume it’s editorial making the call on stuff I find off, but this just feels…off.
Not a huge deal, anyway. The loss of the Bucky/Natasha relationship as a whole is a dealbreaker for me. To quote me talking to a friend, “Look, there are two things I will not abide. You do not fuck with Guy’s backstory (sigh), and you do not break up Bucky and Natasha. They are too fucking good together to split them up. They work too well together, they understand each other too much; breaking them up is fuckstupid, and I won’t stand for it.”
This is all a very long-winded way of saying I won’t be keeping up with this one for awhile.