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Comic Book / Tales of Suspense: Red Ledger

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Tales of Suspense: Red Ledger is a 2017 — 2018 storyline published by Marvel Comics, written by Matthew Rosenberg and drawn by Travel Foreman. It's a revival of the classic anthology comic of the same name, released as part of the Marvel Legacy initiative.

After the events of Secret Empire, Natasha Romanoff —better known as Black Widow— is dead. When an unknown figure starts picking off her old enemies one by one, former lover Clint Barton —Hawkeye— tasks himself with investigating this series of murders and avenging Natasha's untimely demise.

But he can't do it all himself, however, and the one person who can help him is Bucky Barnes —the Winter Soldier himself— who also shares a romantic past with the late Widow.

Compare to Marvel Two-in-One: Fate of the Four, another 2017 relaunch of a classic Marvel anthology comic, featuring the Human Torch and the Thing.

Tales of Suspense: Red Ledger contains example of the following tropes:

  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Bucky's refusal to even consider that Natasha might not be truly dead is strange enough in a universe known for people coming back to life all the time but is even more ridiculous coming from a man who was considered dead for several decades – while he was active. And of course, Natasha turns out to be alive after all.
  • Back for the Dead: Former New Mutant Skids shows up to aid Clint and Bucky briefly, but she's killed by a car bomb. Except not really, since Skids was replaced by a clone body by Black Widow before the explosion.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Clint asks Bucky why he is so… him. Bucky replies that it probably has something to do with being trained to kill from a young age, whereupon he was tortured, brainwashed, and forced to kill for the enemy while everyone who cared about him got old and died. Then he asks the question back to Clint, who replies that he mostly does it for attention.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Redhaired Natasha and her sisters-in-arms, blonde Yelena and dark-haired Anya.
  • Brick Joke: In the first issue, Hawkeye internally monologues that Bobbi Morse told him he wasn't good at spy-stuff. A couple of issues later, he pesters Bucky about his strategy for getting information from a very suspicious person, and Bucky comments that Clint really isn't good at spy-stuff.
  • The Bus Came Back: Yelena Belova, Natasha's Evil Counterpart, reappears in part 2.
  • Call-Back: When Hawkeye cracks a joke about "some guy named Robin", Bucky replies, "Who the hell is Robin?"
  • The Chessmaster: Natasha. After being cloned and given all her memories, she sets up an elaborate plan to take down the Red Room by making it look like the Winter Soldier is doing it.
  • Child Soldiers:
    • The "ballerinas" trained by Gugin and Natasha.
    • By way of introduction, Clint mentions that Bucky is a former child soldier. Bucky himself brings it up later, when explaining why he is the way he is.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bucky's narration in issue #101 is very dry.
  • Expendable Clone: How Natasha treats all the Yelena clones. Which is hypocritical, because she is a clone herself and knows it.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Early on, Clint crashes a HYDRA funeral. Predictably, hijinks ensue.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Both Bucky and Clint throw a sandwich at a tank driver from their roof hideout, and manage to hit them.
  • In Name Only: Red Ledger is a more of a thematic continuation of the Tales of Suspense concept than anything else; the title itself was previously more associated with Iron Man and Captain America. However, Bucky is Cap's former sidekick and Clint and Natasha both debuted in the TOS Iron Man stories, so the use of the name does have logic.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Clint calls Bucky "the second most famous sidekick ever", citing the most famous to be some guy named Robin. Bucky has no idea who that is.
  • Letters to the Editor: Matthew Rosenberg did a unique letter column for #100. The (fictional) letters all concerned #99, published 50 years prior. They featured nigh-incomprehensible 60s slang, severely dated cultural and political references, and sincere worry about the cliffhanger #99 put Iron Man into. Mr. Rosenberg duly pointed toward the resolution in Iron Man & Sub-Mariner #1, "which came out a little over 18,000 days ago."
  • Once More, with Clarity: Issue #103 gives us the events of the previous issues from Natasha's perspective.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Natasha's death in Secret Empire is the springboard for this storyline.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Clint is the red to Bucky's blue.
  • Spin-Off: Technically one to Secret Empire, following up on threads set up by Natasha's death and the omega issue.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Clint and Bucky do not like one another, but it's up to them to put their feelings aside and get to the bottom of this mystery... or else.
  • Verbal Backspace: Bucky does this in his inner monologue about Clint.
    Bucky's thoughts: It's not like I don't respect him... (lists a bunch of reasons not to respect him) ...actually, maybe it is that I don't respect him.
  • Working with the Ex: Or rather, working with the ex of your ex.