Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here's the archive of the moments posted so far!
Today we look at the first storyline of Ed Brubaker's Captain America, the year-long (a little more than a year, really) story, "Winter Soldier," with artists Steve Epting, Mike Perkins and Michael Lark!
The Winter Soldier storyline (which consists of two six-part smaller stories, "Out of Time," which introduces the fact that Captain America's former partner, Bucky, is still alive, followed by "Winter Soldier," where Cap deals with the fact that Bucky is still alive but is a brainwashed assassin known as the Winter Soldier) opens up with a bang in the first issue of the fifth volume of Captain America...
The issue begins with the Red Skull haggling with a Russian named Lukin over various super-weapons that Lukin is selling off after taking control of an old secret Soviet super agency. The Skull sees one of Lukin's operatives, and notes that he would be VERY interested in having this fellow, but Lukin counters that something like that would require a trade for the Cosmic Cube. Skull replies that he does not have it.
Later, we see Captain America trying to track down the Skull and realize that the Skull has other plans...but so does Lukin....
This very effectively debuts Lukin as a major villain, especially when we learn that his operative is the aforementioned Winter Soldier, Cap's former partner, Bucky, who has been brainwashed and is held in cryogenic freezing in between missions, so he has only aged about 10 years in the past 60.
Besides introducing the fact that Bucky survived the explosion that led to Cap being frozen in ice for decades, Brubaker also develops a new backstory for Bucky that is quite intriguing, here it is (throughout the early issues, Michael Lark would supply the art for flashback pages set during World War II - the set-up is Cap and Bucky are working with the Russians (which involves working with the man who will later brainwash Bucky)...
It all comes to a head in Captain America #14 (the numbering is a bit off because Cap #7 and #10 were both not exactly related issues, although #7 was a lot more tied-in than #10, which was a House of M tie-in issue - so it goes #1-6, 8-9, 11-14)
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I won't spoil what comes next - all of these issues have been collected.
This initial storyline is filled with action, drama, great character bits (Brubaker uses the Captain America supporting cast like few others) and amazing artwork by Epting, Perkins and Lark.
This was one of the best openings to a re-launched title that you'll ever see. And Brubaker hasn't eased up on the quality yet, five years later!