Winter Soldier: Second Chances – Kyle Higgins & Rod Reis (Marvel)

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Nobody knows the value, or understands the potential, of a second chance like Bucky Barnes does. He knows that the opportunity to start over again and become the person you always wanted to, and thought you should, be instead of the one that fate, circumstance and fortune have forced you to be is one of the rarest, and most precious, gifts that life can offer. And when it’s presented to you, you seize it with both hands, hold on to it for all you’re worth and make every single second of it count. That’s what Bucky did and knowing what it did for him, in Second Chances, with a little help from a couple of old friends, that’s what the Winter Soldier sets out to do for others. To offer people caught in a life that they never wanted, or dreamt that they might end up in, a second chance to follow what’s in their hearts and start again; and the kind of people that reach out to Bucky are the ones that only he, and his particular skill set, can help. 

Bullets fly and bad people die, but along the way the Winter Soldier finally gets to do what he always wanted to; the right thing. Until he meets the one person who changes everything for him, the person whose life is a reflection of his own. In that moment everything else become secondary and saving that one person becomes the single most important thing in Bucky’s life. However, no matter how much you want to, or how hard you try, some people just can’t be saved and in Second Chances that’s the wall that Bucky finds himself running headlong into when he meets R.J, the underage assassin coerced into murder by Hydra.

Second Chances is an emotional gut punch that, after it’s knocked you down, refuses to let you get up or help you back to your feet and when it’s finished with you, it just walks away and leaves you lying in a broken heap, desperately trying to come to terms with what it is that you’ve just read.  Humanising Bucky in a way that few writers could, Kyle Higgins adopts and embraces the idiom that there’s no such thing as a happy ending and that things, inevitably, just come to a natural conclusion. While that sounds slightly cold and calculating, it fits flawlessly with Bucky’s mission and his new world view and gives the story a sense of gravitas that might not have been present had it ended any other way.  Mirroring the narrative, Reis’ stark artwork bolsters and strengthens Higgins consummate story of a man desperately trying to find redemption by offering other people the same support, guidance and help that was given to him. Everybody deserves a second chance… Tim Cundle

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