Thursday, 19 June 2014

Review: Captain America: Winter Soldier

Title: Captain America: Winter Soldier 
Author: Ed Brubaker (writer). Steve Epting, Michael Lark and John Paul Leon (artists)
Published by: Marvel Comics
Genre: Action/adventure scifi/fantasy mystery espionage
Format: Hardcover
Source: My bookshelf
Buy it from Amazon or Book Depository
Check it out on Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: For more than fifty years, the Soviets employed an undercover agent - an unstoppable, untraceable killer known as the Winter Soldier. His suspected identity? Bucky Barnes, Captain America's one-time partner, thought to have died in World War II. Now, the Winter Soldier is back, working for the ruthless General Lukin - who has obtained a functional Cosmic Cube, a weapon of limitless power that can bend reality itself. Vowing to end Lukin's reign of terror and destruction, Captain America relentlessly tracks the Cube - only to find himself face to face against the Winter Soldier. Will Cap be forced to battle his resurrected partner so soon after finally learning the astonishing truth? 

My Thoughts: This book was such a satisfying experience, it's all gritty espionage, super hero fun with a mystery, then boom! ugly sobbing ensues (from me, not the story). It says a lot for the comic format that a bunch of pictures and speech baloons can elicit such a response. I don't know why I held off reading comics for so long because boy do I love them now.

The actual physical book is so beautifully bound that it took me a while to stop just looking at it and stroking it, and also smelling it because it has such a lovely strong book smell ;-) After removing the sleeve, the plain white cover with a partial shield is so simple and understated - it is very asthetically pleasing to my eye.

This is not an origin story for Captain America, so I was a little bit confused to start with but most of that confusion is cleared up with Cap's inner monologues and flashbacks. So, for someone like me this is a good starting point to get into Captain America comics. If, again like me, you are more interested in the Winter Soldier storyline then this is of course a perfect starting point - it being the Winter Soldier's origin story and all.

Brubaker has written a very realistic character with Steve, especially as a war veteran who is haunted by his past. Steve struggles with his guilt, not only over Bucky's death but also because he missed the end of the war and he feels less men would have died had he been there. It seems like he may be suffering with PTSD, as he acts recklessy and violently, and he also has trouble with his memories, not certain if they are real or not. It is uncertain if that he does have PTSD or if it is the cosmic cube that the bad guy Lukin has, that is messing with Cap's head, as it does to others who Lukin has an axe to grind with. Either way Cap's actions show a very human side to him.

As I said, this is an origin story for the Winter Soldier, so of course, we get flashbacks in which we see Cap's introduction to Bucky and their developing relationship. I was quite dissapointed that they weren't childhood friends as in the movies, but that in no way detracts from the depth of their friendship in the book. The Winter Soldier's story is a sad one and I see him as a victim and not a villain. This man hasn't been treated like a human being for fifty years, he is treated as a tool, as a weapon and that is terribly sad.

You remember that first heartbreaking scene in the movie? Well, it comes directly from the book and, as in the movie, this is where the tears and the Bucky/Cap feels started (they still haven't stopped).



The relationship between these two is beautiful and I get teary whenever I think about them. I don't know why, but close male relationships really move me, it could be something to do with the fact that growing up you learn that men are not meant to have emotions or feelings, especially not towards other men. So, when close male friendships are explored in fiction, it is a breath of fresh air. They show that, yes, males do feel and experience emotions in the same way females do and that they do care deeply about others - even other men, in either plutonic or romantic ways. In this case though, Steve and Bucky's relationship is totally plutonic and they love each other more than anything and would die for each other - to me that is beautiful.

Most of the art in the book is stunning and really adds to the enjoyment of the story. When there is a change of artist I found it to be a bit jarring, but I quickly got used to it. I even think that the different art styles fit with the different parts of the story, adding depth.

Overall, this was an absolutely fantastic story with an ending that guarantees that I will be reading the next one. I totally recommend this book to not only those who enjoyed the film but to anyone who enjoys great character based stories.

So yeah, I loved it



  1. Awesome review, and totally agree. Great story and the movie was fabulous too. I love that scene you highlighted with the pics, they did that so well in the movie. That whole sequence with Bucky and Cap meeting face to face for the first time- perfect.

    That's a nice version of the book by the way, I've read that story in various trade paperbacks but looks like you have a nice all-in-one edition- looks very nice!

    1. Thanks Greg, that means a lot.

      I agree that they did a great job with the adaptation, as I was reading the book I would be thinking "that was in the movie" and "ooh, so was that". Any changes worked really well too and I adore both the book and the film.

      And yes, it is a beautiful book and looks lovely on my shelves :-)


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