WINTERMEN is an excellent comic and one of my favourites of recent years. Set mostly in Russia, it follows Kris Kalenov and three of his former comrades who were long ago "rocket soldiers" in a Soviet programme that never saw much more action than propaganda. Nowadays they all have new lives as a cop, a soldier, a gangster and a bodyguard/assassin. And their lives are all still very much intertwined.
At the core of the story, Kris is caught up trying to find the truth behind the kidnapping, smuggling and experimentation of a little girl with a deadly power. But there's so much more to the story than that. There are all the nasty little errands assigned to a cop (Kalenov) working directly for the Mayor. There's the constant political dealing and bribery that encompasses every part of life in Moscow. All the various dealings of criminal organizations, from organ smuggling to protection money to violent turf wars between rival gangs controlling Coke versus Pepsi. And all the cultural tidbits of Russian life that make the story feel real and give it texture.
The writer, Brett Lewis, actually has a character in the comic say that this isn't a Hollywood story. And it isn't. The pacing is different from what you might expect. Things don't wrap up when you've been trained to think they would. And I like that. Because even though it's different, it's REALLY GOOD. And John Paul Leon's loose-but-rich artwork is brilliant and suits the story perfectly. The subdued colouring by Dave Stewart is a nice fit as well.
So, why did this originally-eight-issue mini-series get stopped at issue #5 nearly two years ago? I don't know... because people suck? Maybe it was too different for too many readers and retailers. And that's a damn shame. My understanding is that sales were poor and Wildstorm wanted the remaining three issues to be condensed into one special finale issue (which is what we'll be getting in December). When you take that kind of butchery to a heavily-detailed, well-researched story like this, I can understand why it would take some time to re-write. And that then screws up things with the artist's schedule. Which puts us two years later and me grateful it's actually done but very sad for the pieces of the story that were lost along the way.
So, if you've read Wintermen, remember that WINTERMEN WINTER SPECIAL #1 hits stores on December 31st. If you haven't read any of it, it would really be worth the effort to check your local comicshop's back-issue bins. With the history this book has had, I wouldn't hold my breath for a trade paperback.