Winter Guard #2 Review

by Charles Martin on September 29, 2021

Winter Guard #2 Review
Writer: Ryan Cady
Artist: Jan Bazaldua
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rolling into its second issue, Winter Guard strikes a nice balance between its protagonists and its antagonists. Writer Ryan Cady is getting into the nitty-gritty of the current Winter Guard team, fleshing them out far more than Jason Aaron could in the Avengers.

For example, this issue kicks off with Darkstar pondering the increasingly grey morality of her team's mission. Is this really what she signed up for? She wants to be a hero -- is she accomplishing that?

Darkstar will get more page time further on, paired up with the demon Chernobog for some interesting development of both characters.

As for the heroes, who are driving the plot, Red Guardian continues his intelligence-gathering mission. He and the White Widow split up to grab more files, each of them skillfully evading another run-in with the Guard. 

In their non-action scenes together, Yelena begins to buck a little. Alexei remains tight-lipped about his overall plan, but the Widow wants to see more of the bigger picture.

She's not the only one!

The main weakness of this comic is a shortage of plot development. The end of #2 brings us to about the same place we were at the end of #1. Vanguard and Red Widow dismiss the idea of there being a traitor on their team, but that point's not settled. For one thing, Alexei and Yelena sow some fresh seeds of doubt in their latest encounters with the Guard.

But when it comes to the mysterious Operation Snowblind that Red Guardian is gathering information on, #2 gives us frustratingly little new information.

Mr. Cady's script has ample compensation to make up for the slow-moving plot, though! As already noted, this comic does a great job of giving depth and texture to the Winter Guard. They're finally emerging as characters in their own right, and it's a lot of fun to watch.

The nuts-and-bolts prose in this comic is also impressive. The words are a little sharper, a little fresher than the last issue. Distinct voices emerge for each character that gets significant attention, making this feel like a real ensemble piece.

On the art side, Jan Bazaldua delivers an impressive performance. Her characters are strongly posed and blocked, creating some distinct "wow" moments. I hesitate to call these splash panels, though -- they're tightly integrated into the flow of the story. Ms. Bazaldua also uses shading and shadow to great effect, giving her characters noteworthy texture and detail.

Colourist Federico Blee is right in line with the artist, using a chilly, gritty palette that brings the Russian settings to life. He's not afraid to add eye-catching splashes, particularly of (of course) red. And Mr. Blee knows how to modulate his colours to extend and enhance the good light and shadow work Ms. Bazaldua is doing.

So, Winter Guard #2 looks great, it reads smooth, and it has some intriguing insights to offer for several of its characters. Though the plot is taking its sweet time to unfold, this is hardly a boring interlude. Unless you are totally disinterested in the characters, this issue does plenty to hold your attention and get you invested in what happens next.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I like the running gag about the uselessness of Vanguard's shield.