Captain America: The Winter Soldier has long since spoiled one of the biggest reveals in recent comics history when Captain America learns that the deadly assassin known as the Winter Soldier is actually his friend Bucky Barnes, who was thought to have been dead since World War II. This is the first long arc in Ed Brubaker’s absolutely epic run on Captain America that lasted over seven and a half years and took readers through some major plot points including this and the highly publicized death of Captain America.
After the “Avengers: Disassembled” storyline, most of the major players in the Avengers/Marvel Universe received new volumes of their books, such as Iron Man, the Avengers (becoming the New Avengers), and Captain America. Right out of the gate was one of the biggest storylines in Cap’s history and the entire run is well worth reading.
All of it was written by Brubaker, but there were a few pencillers that took care of the art. One of my personal favorites of all time is Steve Epting, who would later reunite on Velvet from Image Comics. Though he doesn’t stay on books for long runs, when he does they are memorable.
About the Book
At long last, the Red Skull has finally put together a Cosmic Cube and intends to power it up by destroying a few cities. However, General Lukin knows this and wishes to buy the Cube from the Red Skull but refuses. Erego, Lukin decides he will then take it and hires an assassin to kill the Red Skull, which he does by shooting him through the chest. Meanwhile Cap is reliving that fateful moment when the plane exploded and Bucky was killed during World War II by Baron Zemo.
While rescuing Agent 13 (Sharon Carter), Cap comes face to face with a deadly assassin known as the Winter Soldier. Flashbacks keep haunting Cap and information slowly trickles in as he tries to figure out who the Winter Soldier is. As Lukin still has the Cosmic Cube, Cap and Falcon go on a mission to try and take it, but as they get down to business they are unaware that they are in the line of sight of the Winter Soldier.
Amidst all the chaos, Cap finds himself locked with the Winter Soldier, who he figures out is his best friend Bucky, and is able to wrestle the Cube away from him. It is because Cap has possession of the Cube that he is finally able to make the Winter Soldier, Bucky, remember who he truly is.
Why This Book is Important
It is an overused plot device in comics to bring a character back from the dead. This was pretty heavy in the sense that it was Cap’s long time best friend that was brainwashed into being a deadly assassin, but when this came out it was absolutely monstrous. There was a well known saying in comic books for decades that “no one stays dead except Bucky, Jason Todd and Uncle Ben”. Two of those sacred cows have since been brought back, with Uncle Ben being the only one to adhere to the rule. The reveal and final confrontation between Cap and Bucky/Winter Soldier is one of the best modern arcs and the final issue of this arc has been a very hot book since it was first published.
Brubaker’s run was fantastic just in the sense that it was well written but it also covered some very big storylines that even earned national attention. The Winter Soldier arc was big amongst comic book readers but the death of Captain America was mentioned numerous times on media news outlets. The latter half of his run saw Bucky become Captain America, which is something that they very briefly touch on at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so there may be some clues to the third movie somewhere in this epic run but it’s unclear.
Though the main reveal was spoiled if you saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier, reading this masterpiece still has many great moments and it’s a wild ride to see Bucky come back from the depths of madness and learn the truth about his deed as the Winter Soldier. This was one of the best runs in the history of Captain America, and was one of the highlights for Marvel Comics in recent memory.
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