The names "Butch Guice" and "Bettie Breitweiser" would have been enough to sell me on the forthcoming Winter Soldier series even if I wasn't already a great fan of writer Ed Brubaker's work with the Bucky Barnes character, but a trio of unlettered preview pages has pushed me over the line from merely "sold" to "can't wait." Artist Guice and colorist Breitweiser are standout talents even among the impressive Marvel staple, but they seem to have outdone themselves in the plain, old fashioned style department, as you can see in the Winter Soldier #1 pages below.The youthful sidekick of Captain America during World War II, Bucky Barnes was seemingly killed in action before he remerged as the Soviet Union's Winter Soldier, a brainwashed, cybernetic (I will use any justification to classify any character as a cyborg) killer who operated covertly for decades. In the landmark "The Death of Captain America" and "Captain America Lives" storylines written by Ed Brubaker (and illustrated in part by Guice), a deprogrammed Bucky succeeded the (temporarily) deceased Steve Rogers as Captain America before he himself became (temporarily) deceased in the events of Fear Itself.

Now that everyone is (temporarily?) alive and wearing their proper costumes again, Marvel and Brubaker have seen fit to spin the eminently cool Winter Soldier character off into his own series. Launching next month, Winter Soldier follows Bucky as hunts down other Soviet-era assassins like himself. Aided by the Black Widow, the series returns both characters to their espionage-esque origins, as made plain in the gorgeous preview pages by Guice and Breitweiser. With the writer of one of Marvel's most thrilling and most popular superhero sagas (and Criminal, one of ComicsAlliance's picks for Best Comics of 2011 [and don't forget, the same creators' Fatale #1 is on sale today from Image Comics) and artwork like this and covers by Lee Bermejo, Winter Soldier is among our most anticipated new ongoing series of 2012.