Thursday, 24 April 2014

Winter Soldier: The Longest Winter (#1-5)

Writers: Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice

Cover artist: Lee Bermejo and Gabriele Del'otto (#1), Lee Bermejo (#2-5)
Variant covers by Gabriele Dell'Otto, Joe Kubert (#1)
 and John Tyler (#4), an Avengers Art Appreciation variant.
2nd printing variants to #1-3
Collected in:
  • Winter Soldier: The Longest Winter (Marvel Comics,  Oct 3rd 2012), with Fear Itself #7.1.
  • Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker: The Complete Collection (Marvel Comics, Sep 23rd 2014)
  • The entire series is available on Marvel Unlimited and Comixology.

-        This story picks up from where The Life Story of Bucky Barnes left off, where we saw James
and Natasha visiting Bucky's elderly sister Becca, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. At its conclusion, Bucky sets off on the road with Natasha.  

This is the Winter Soldier's second solo outing; the first, the one-shot Winter Kills, was a Civil War tie-in. Naturally, this means a new logo. Compared to the red star design on Winter Kills, here the Russian-style block typeface is complemented by a hammer and sickle. #1-2 use a gold logo; #3-15 use a silver logo; #16-19 use a white logo.

-        Brubaker, Guice and Lark 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.

-        The art on the recap page for #1 and #6 (drawn by Steve Epting), a montage of Bucky's life through a young visit to Camp Lehigh to the Cold War, is taken from Captain America (vol. 5) #14, the point where the Cosmic Cube revives his memories.

-        Butch Guice, the artist for all issues in Brubaker's run except for Broken Arrow, collaborated with Brubaker before back in 2009/2010 for the Captain America stories Reborn, Two Americas and No Escape.


Continuity Notes

-        Fred Davis, the Bucky of the late 1940s, speaks on television in defence of James. He was last seen in Old Wounds; this scene would be revisited in #6, also the issue of his death. The newsreader says that "it's been months" since Bucky's "tragic death."

-        Bucky recalls moments from his past: Russian training and indoctrination, and being frozen into a stasis tube as a sleeper agent, "ready to be shipped to America." Per the Winter Soldier arc, this last scene would have been in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Bucky says that there were "three enhanced agents of mass destruction." One of these, Leo Novokov, would be seen in the second arc.

-        James and Natasha align themselves with Jasper Sitwell, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent first seen in Strange Tales #144. More recently, he has appeared in Secret Warriors and Matt Fraction's run on Punisher: War Journal.

-        Ex-Soviet the Red Ghost, Professor Ivan Kragoff, reappears in this story, along with his army of Super-Apes. He was seen dying in Amazing Spider-Man #676, essentially a 'Villain's Month' type story before DC had the idea, but would be resurrected by MODOK in Deadpool #55. Likely, it takes place before the Amazing Spider-Man issue. He is joined by Lucia Von Bardas, the cyborg ex-Prime Minister of Latveria from Secret War.

-        Perhaps appropriately, the artwork depicts Bucky and Widow fighting in the snow. Winter Soldier, indeed. Brubaker also used the snow motif in The Trial of Captain America, which saw Bucky tried for his war crimes. It being the 'longest winter' is perhaps even more accurate. #6 will confirm a December setting for this first set of issues.


Continuity Notes

-        Sitwell shows James and Natasha the video footage of the attempted assassination of Doom from last issue. It occurred early that morning, at "just after 0800 hours."

-        Bucky recalls "empty places in my mind start filling it": the three other men involved in the Zephyr Procedure - Arkady, Leo and Dmitri. He says that he "never trusted" Leo, but admired Dmitri's nationalism.

-        Natasha notes it is ex-H.A.M.M.E.R. tech being auctioned off. Similar auctions on run-offs from Osborn's corrupt version of S.H.I.E.L.D. are glimpsed in the penultimate arc to Matt Fraction's Invincible Iron Man run.


Continuity Notes

-        Fury explains the history of Lucia von Bardas from Secret War to Bucky and Natasha:

 "When Doom got deposed a while ago... We fixed it so she was made prime minister of Latveria. But Lucia wasn't the puppet our people wanted... She was secretly supplyin' Doom's buncha U.S. super villains, instead... Tryin' to cause us enough trouble we wouldn't notice she was just as bad as the jackhole she replaced. Politics bein' what they are, I defied orders an' put together a secret strike team to take her out. Cap an' Widow were part of it... We brought the whole damn castle down on Lucia... But she wasn't so easy to kill. Next time we saw her, she was part cyborg...' all that hidden craziness wasn't hidin' anymore. We managed to take her down again, after she nearly killed Luke Cage... But when S.H.I.E.L.D. was bein' dismantled by Norman Osborn... ...she fell through the cracks. Disappeared from custody. And dropped completely off the radar. Our people couldn't find any sign of her."


Continuity Notes

-        The Red Ghost has been using the ex-Simian Research Facility as a storage place for the past few weeks, a facility that has been "abandoned since the '80s."


Continuity Notes

-        Doom gives us a humorous jab at the amount S.H.I.E.L.D.'s directive and Fury's position has shifted over the past few years: "Colonel Fury... or is it ex-colonel now? Von Doom stopped trying to keep track of all your promotions and demotions long ago."

-        Andre Rostov, the Red Barbarian, is assassinated. He was last seen as a warden in the Siberian gulag Bucky was sent to in the Prisoner of War arc in Captain America, but now he resides in the Bahamas "after all his decades of service," paid for by the Zephyr sleeper codes. Rostov was first seen as a villain in Tales of Suspense #42, working with soviet The Actor against Iron Man.

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