Friday, 25 April 2014

Winter Soldier: Broken Arrow (#6-9)

Writers: Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark

Cover artist: Steve Epting
Collected in:
  •  Winter Soldier: Broken Arrow (Marvel Comics, Dec 12th 2012)
  • Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker: The Complete Collection (Marvel Comics, Sep 23rd 2014)
  • The entire series is available on Marvel Unlimited and Comixology.
-        Michael Lark handles interiors on #6-9. Brubaker previously collaborated with Lark on Captain America #4-5 and his run on Daredevil. The cover artist Steve Epting was a mainstay through the Winter Soldier story and beyond in Brubaker's run.

-        The recap page for #6 repurposes the cover art for Winter Soldier: Winter Kills, his earlier solo appearance from 2007.

#6 Prologue

Continuity Notes

-        As a prologue to the Broken Arrow storyline, this issue further explores Leo Novokov, another recipient of the Russian Winter Soldier program, hinted at in the previous arc.

-        The majority of this issue, aside from the wraparound with the Winter Soldier, flashes back to Novokov's development in the years since his reawakening.

-        Novokov is reawakened in San Francisco "twelve years ago," per the captions and dialogue from Bucky, "thrown out" of stasis during an earthquake. If this story is occurring in late 2011, then this would likely be (either a fictitious earthquake) or occurring in mid-August 1999. (Source)

-        The S.H.I.E.L.D. readout on page 7 lists Leonid as being a project by Department X from 1979.

-        The captions describe that, after "the first year", the 'dawn of heroes' - "Men of iron. Men wearing the flag. Gods with hammers." - occurred (we see Thor, Captain America and Iron Man captured on a news broadcast: "AVENGERS SAVE MANHATTAN".) The beginnings of the Marvel universe would therefore have occurred on the threshold into the new century, between 1999 and 2000. This date is constantly fluctuating (the most recent relaunch of Silver Surfer gives his arrival on Earth in Fantastic Four #48 (1966) as 12 years ago, whilst the '7 year line' is often bounced around fandom. The truth is there is no definitive answer, but I will trust in Brubaker's dating for Avengers #4 (1964) to have been 11 years ago, in 2000. Given Iron Man's updated helmet (introduced in Tales of Suspense #54), this event would at least be at the point of Avengers #6, where they do indeed save Manhattan from the Masters of Evil. Given the New York skyline (the Twin Towers are still standing), this is obviously pre-9/11.

-        We are reunited with Novokov in the present "three months ago," around the trial of Captain America (#611-615.) This gives a timeframe to work around: Fear Itself and Bucky's funeral is established here as being "only weeks after being branded a traitor," whilst Fred's second television appearance, as seen in #1 and re-presented here (the dialogue is identical in both issues) is said to be "weeks" after that.

-        After his appearance in Captain America and Bucky, where his time as Bucky is finally appraised by Steve, who helps build a monument for him outside a V.A. hospital, Davis is murdered in his home by Novokov - ironically only (what would be) days after his memorial was built. That story occurred on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, meaning the chronology is clear:
  • October - The Trial of Captain America and Gulag
  • November - Fear Itself
  • December - Old Wounds and The Longest Winter

-        Novokov writes on the wall of Davis' house (in his own blood) "ONLY ONE BUCKY LEFT." It's not entirely true - whilst the second Bucky, Jack Monroe, was murdered by the Winter Soldier back in vol. 5 #3, both Rick Jones, who took on the role from #110-116, and Lemar Hoskins, who used the identity of Bucky before soon changing it to Battlestar in #341, are still alive - however these were such brief stints that Novokov may not even be aware of them.

-        In his narration, Bucky says the events of the first arc occurred "last week."


      Continuity Notes

-        This issue picks up "two months" after the Prologue, in February 2012. Bucky summarises that Novokov has been crossing the States, accomplishing "five murders in two months. Three government agents, a hotel bellhop, and a doctor, in three different cities..."

-        We see flashbacks to Bucky's training with Natasha in the Red Room. Natasha says that "Rodchenko was one of the Red Room's main programmers in the mid-1970s... He implanted cover identities into operatives pre-mission. I think he was the one who made me believe I was a ballerina for several years." Sitwell says that he defected to the United States in the '80s. Natasha's false history as a Russian ballerina was explored in the second Marvel Knights Black Widow series, and is shown again in Cornell's 2010 limited series Deadly Origin. 


      Continuity Notes

-        This issue picks up three hours after last issue, and continues into the following day.

-        Novokov reprograms the Black Widow using old Soviet tech into a lethal stage - a plot thread which continues to the end of Brubaker's run. She returns to her past in more ways than one - she becomes the last minute replacement to a girl shot (indirectly - he shoots the tyre of a passing taxi) by Novokov, in an opera. She takes up her Russian name: Natalia.

-        Jasper says to Bucky "I've technically known Natasha longer than you have... worked together on and off... nearly ten years..."


      Continuity Notes

-        This issue picks two days after the previous, with a private performance of the ballet to "the first lady and friends." Bucky says that he hasn't "slept at all since Natasha was taken."

-        Sitwell analogises: "The world he [Novokov] was trained for doesn't exist-- So he's creating his own Cold War, with the other players left from the great game."

-        Bucky manages to briefly route Natasha's head around to remembering him - but this tactic clearly did not work, as by issue's end, she has fatally shot Jasper Sitwell and left Fury unconscious on the Helicarrier. 

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