Falcon & Winter Soldier: Cut Off One Head – Derek Landy, Federico Vicentini & Matt Milla (Marvel)

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No matter how hard they try to stay out of each other’s orbit, fate has a way of throwing the perpetual odd couple and former Captain America’s, Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson together. When a super-secret government agency responsible for doing the sort of legally and morally dubious things no upstanding, blinkered hero would ever condone goes dark, Sam and Bucky’s destinies becoming hopelessly entwined when they end up getting caught up in the middle of a HYDRA power struggle. Becoming both the hunters and the hunted, they’re the only line of defence against the would-be super villains and their loyal forces, and as the bullets fly and the body’s mount up, they find themselves at the mercy of super-fans and assassins as they try to bring the forces of darkness to heel in their own inimitable and dysfunctional way.

Even though it’s his first foray into the four colour world, Skullduggery Pleasant author Derek Landy’s character driven, action packed, dialogue rich tale of the soon-to-be-stars of the Marvel televisual universe is funny, engaging and reminds you why you love Sam and Bucky. He gets them in a way that few writers do, understands what makes them tick and how, and why they push each others buttons and uses it to craft the sort of story that you’ll read from cover to cover in a single sitting and then go straight back to the first page and start reading again. And whoever it was at Marvel that teamed Landy up with Vincentini and Milla deserves a raise as the art that lets his tale explode out of every panel and page, is gorgeously detailed and sublimely beautiful. If you only read one book in the run up to the Falcon and the Winter Soldier making their small screen debut, make sure it’s this one… Tim Cundle

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