Published on April 7th, 2014 | by Dapper Dan0
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Recommended Reading
By now you should have seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (If you haven’t then step away from the screen, hie thee to the nearest picture house and rectify this most grievous error forthwith! Once you’ve seen it, read on…)
You’ve watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier and now want to read some of Captain America’s adventures, but don’t know where to start. Never fear, Dapper Dan is here for you. Here’s a selection of books you can get from your local comic store, or online retailer, that feature what I’d consider some of Cap’s greatest adventures.
Captain America Omnibus – Vol. 1
Starting way back when Cap was first defrosted and finding his place in the Marvel Universe, we have the Captain America Omnibus – Volume 1. Cap didn’t have his own book initially; he co-starred in Tales Of Suspense with Iron Man, from 59-99. The book was eventually renamed Captain America with issue 100 and ran for decades.
This volume contains the first appearances of numerous Cap villains and allies. Batroc The Leaper, Modok, Sharon Carter… They’re all in here and it’s a great collection of key stories and period art. Bright, bold colours, cracking Jack Kirby artwork and the typical bam, bam, bam of 60’s Marvel with a new character or concept every issue.
It’s an expensive book, for sure, but it’s worth it, if you want to see Cap’s origins in the Marvel Universe.
Captain America Epic Collection – Dawn’s Early Night
Jumping ahead some 15 years, we have this recent publication. Coming in at a hefty 23 issues, it’s a great volume, featuring the seminal run by Roger Stern and John Byrne. While their run on the book wasn’t very long, it stands as some of the best Cap material out there.
Over the course of their run, they show Cap in a variety of situations that really allow you to see why he’s the paragon of heroism in the Marvel Universe.
Starting with a standard battle against villainy, he fights a new villain, Machinesmith, who later becomes one of The Red Skull’s henchmen and proves a thorn in Cap’s side for decades. He then runs for President(!) and then we have Cap facing off against Mr Hyde and Batroc the Leaper (yes, him again) as they hijack an oil tanker. Cap rarely kills, and only when he has no other choice. This volume also contains the famous story where he’s faced with such a no-win scenario, fighting the British vampire Baron Blood alongside one of my favourite heroes; Union Jack.
I’m a big fan of Byrne’s artwork during the 80’s and early 90’s, and the material here is no exception. His Captain America is always filling the panels with his presence, whether through his actions or just his demeanour, this is hell of a charismatic Avenger.
The second half of the book is more pedestrian fare, with encounters with the Hulk, Red Skull and the ludicrous Ameridroid (A 30 foot tall robot that thinks it’s Cap), but when the price is this good, you can’t really complain.
Captain America – the Bloodstone Hunt
When he’s not leading the Avengers, or smashing fascism, Cap also finds time to be a bit of an Indiana Jones. Written by arguably the most prolific Cap writer, Mark Gruenwald, this volume features a six issue arc where Cap races against time to find a mystic jewel before Batroc and his mercenaries. The eponymous jewel is sought by the modern Baron Zemo in an effort to restore his Bucky-killing father to life.
Taking Cap away from his usual urban environment, we see him globetrotting and encountering deathtraps, sharks, mummies and the kind of thing that, well, you’d expect in an Indy film. His costume seems incongruous in these locales but as Captain America, he would look stranger if he wasn’t wearing it.
Story beats of note include Cap teaming up with Diamondback, who soon becomes a major character in his life and he also tussles with Crossbones for the first time. It’s not until many years later we discover Crossbones real name is Brock Rumlow. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent leading caps Strike Team in the movie was called Rumlow. Think back to his final fight with the Falcon and you might remember he had webbing across his chest in an X-shape. FORESHADOWING!
Captain America – The Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection
This is the story that inspired much of the film. A modern day tale, Cap works with S.H.I.E.L.D. in an operative capacity, helping shut down rogue terrorist cells and such threats. When his arch nemesis is assassinated with a single shot to the head, Cap slowly unravels the mystery of spy-world’s bogey man; The Winter Soldier.
Written by one of the best creators in comics today, Ed Brubaker, this volume achieves what had been held as one of comics’ great impossibilities; it brings back Bucky. So much of Cap’s drive and protective instinct is informed by the loss of his partner, in the Second World War, that bringing him back seemed sacrilege. Brubaker silenced the naysayers and produced what might be the definitive Captain America story here. All the significant members of his supporting cast are represented, all of his most key villains show up and of course it all builds towards a reckoning with his brainwashed partner, now the world’s deadliest assassin.
Art-wise what struck me about the book was how Cap’s uniform is drawn with an eye to real-world practicalities. The armoured chest is scalemail. The belt is more like a combatants webbing, with pouches that appear to serve a purpose beyond holding his trousers up.
If you only buy one book on this list, make it this one. If you don’t like it, then I can do nothing more. This is Cap at his best, both creatively and as a character.
I hope you look up one or two of these books, and enjoy them. If there’s a Cap story you think should have been on this list, let me know through the site or on Twitter. I’ve been Dapper Dan, and you’ve been reading me.
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