Thursday, 24 April 2014

Winter Soldier #1-19

This week (month), we're going back a few years again: to Winter Soldier.

      I've heard fans say that Brubaker's second run on Captain America (volume 6) isn't as good as his first. It's true. It had some promising elements, but ultimately it didn't carry itself as well as the adventures of Bucky Barnes (or, indeed, the adventures of Captain America and Union Jack.)

      Winter Soldier is that book.

 As the cover to #1 proudly proclaims, Bucky Barnes is stepping over "FROM THE PAGES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA!" But really, in a way, he is bringing 'Captain America' right over with him. The series acts as a sequel to Brubaker's first volume of that book, where Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, is eventually built up to take over the mantle of Captain America from Steve Rogers. (Brubaker's second run on Captain America, published concurrently, makes little reference to the Winter Soldier and is really its own thing.) Bucky has one of the best resurrections, really (following what had already been a pretty good resurrection for the character in the first place.) By The Trial of Captain America, though, the press caught onto information on Bucky's background and it became necessary to remove him from that position. In Fear Itself, Bucky is supposedly killed during the attack on Washington DC - but as #7.1 reveals to us (and to Steve), this is a ruse in order to remove Bucky from the public eye. To the reader, it's a retcon (admittedly, only a couple of months after the original events) - but to the writer, it was always the authorial intent, and completely fits with everything we've seen built up before with the Winter Soldier. He is at his very essence a spy and a fighter - naturally, he will go underground. Indeed, the end of #7 saw a certain teaser poster in it, alluding to the character of Novokov, who will become a major player in this series:

      Here, we see the Winter Soldier, Black Widow and Jasper Sitwell brought together within the most secret levels of S.H.I.E.L.D. But it's not a S.H.I.E.L.D. book, despite the odd Helicarrier here and there. It's espionage, sure, but a deeper level of espionage with a man who only five people know exist: a faceless (masked) man, unknown to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the world's greatest superheroes. Over the course of the series, things will change. Dramatically.

      Brubaker, Guice and Lark (veteran crew from his work on Captain America and Daredevil) worked as the creative team on #1-14, but by #14 Brubaker's emerging prospects in film and TV meant he had to leave Marvel in order to work on those projects. For #15-19, Jason Latour and Nic Klein took over, only for the series to be shamefully cancelled shortly after the first issue. It's a shame, really. Some fans found it do be mediocre - some saw it as Dead On Arrival - but Latour and Klein deserved their chance. Well, they had it. The Winter Soldier working on the retired Nick Fury's orders and finding a remnant from his Winter Soldier past: a young girl, Tarasova, who has grown up into the Electric Ghost. We leave it open-ended from there, right into the All-New Invaders and his introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bucky has had an interesting ride, but perhaps we should look to see what his future should hold. (Or perhaps we should read over our Omnibi of Brubaker's Captain America, and wonder over its brilliance.)

      Per the Amazon listing, Marvel will be reprinting Brubaker's fourteen issues again later this year in a Complete Collection (perhaps unsurprisingly, given a certain Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Disney release.) It's a good run, and I recommend checking it out either in the 3 or 4 trade paperbacks (depending how complete you want to get) or the Complete Collection once it's released.

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