Captain America (C) Marvel

Celebrate the 4th with the “Captain America: Winter Soldier” comic


In honor of the celebration of America’s independence from the United Kingdom, I’m reviewing a tale about America’s favorite Marvel comic book patriot, Captain America.

In 2005, writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting relaunched the “Captain America” series with a story arc called “Out of Time.” This was a prelude to the following arc, the one that would ultimately rock the Captain’s history to its core and gives us one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.

That story arc was the “The Winter Soldier.”

AUTHOR NOTE: Article originally posted on the old “Shadowdance” blog back in 2013.

 “The Winter Soldier” summary

“Out of Time,” the first arc in the “Winter Soldier” saga, begins with the return of Captain America’s arch nemesis the Red Skull. He’s cutting a deal former Russian general Lukin to trade in some weaponry. They come across a cryogenically frozen man whom Lukin will trade for the Cosmic Cube.

The Skull refuses, for he has his own plans for the Cube.  Lukin has plans for the frozen man as well.

The Skull moves on with his plans, only to be assassinated before they come to fruition.

SHIELD director Nick Fury brings Captain America in on the case, along with the Captain’s ex-girlfriend, SHIELD agent Sharon Carter, a.k.a. Agent 13.

Together they work to uncover the Skull’s ultimate plot. The investigation leads back to Lukin and his Cold War secret weapon, the Winter Soldier.

By the middle act, Captain America has a startling revelation about just who the Winter Soldier might be.

Changing how to tell a comic book story

The Winter Soldier (C) Marvel

The Winter Soldier (C) Marvel

The story’s visual style is not the usual vibrant four color artwork one would expect from a comic book.

Instead, “The Winter Soldier” saga deals in muted tones provided by colorist Frank D’Armata.

You know you’re dealing in a dark tale that’s more for adults of the post-9/11 world than the children who’d read the splashy comics of the 1990s.

Epting delivers his action in a “widescreen” format with panels stretching across the page. The better to capture Captain America’s shield flying across an expanse to KO multiple henchmen.

Brubaker, known for his work on crime comics, brings that sensibility to (arguably) America’s favorite son. He employs flashbacks to Captain America’s days in World War II alongside his partner Bucky.

Yet these flashbacks aren’t just exposition. Cap feels he’s remembering things incorrectly, but can’t understand why.

The flashbacks also serve as an omen that will give the revelation of the Winter Soldier’s identity a stronger emotional impact.

And how will this play in the “Captain America: Winter Soldier” movie?

If you’ve paid half an attention to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you know that the upcoming sequel to the “Captain America” movie will borrow from the “Winter Soldier” story.

The first movie established the “in” for the creation of the Winter Soldier character. It and “The Avengers” also left Captain America a man out of time, searching for a reason to continue in this new world.

The films also tied Cap to SHIELD, which will play a prominent role in the sequel as they did in the “Winter Soldier” source material.

It’s possible to pull in the Red Skull again, but the best thing about Brubaker and Epting’s story is the creation of a new villain to menace Captain America. It would be interesting to see Hollywood follow the storyline of a lesser known but just as deadly villain instead of forcing in the old standby.

As for the appearance of the Cosmic Cube, or the Tesseract as it’s called in “The Avengers,” the movies have established it so it could very well appear again.

So before the movie drops, I’d run out and read “Out of Time” and “The Winter Soldier.” They’re sold as “Winter Soldier” vol. 1 and vol. 2 or you can get the ultimate edition.  Just follow the links for purchase.

Have a happy and safe fourth to all my American followers.

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