Captain America has had it’s ups and downs over the years, but for the last decad we’ve been treated to a solid run. I’m sure many of you know the story of Steve Rogers, created by the amazing Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. The only super soldier created during WWII, frozen in the Atlantic while saving America from a missile. Decades later thawed out by the Avengers. A born leader, he inspires the best in people. Not the strongest, fastest, or smartest, but he always perceivers.
To be honest, my knowledge of Captain America pre-2000 besides his origin and a few random Avengers stories is limited. There were several periods when he quit, leaving others to take the mantle. Upon his return they would continue creating other characters like U.S. Agent. Plus there was that one time Cap was a werewolf.
Death in comics wasn’t the revolving door it is today, there was a time when it had substance (more on that another day). There were however, two characters you never brought back. Uncle Ben (Spider-man’s Uncle), and Bucky, Cap’s sidekick. He died as Cap fell into the ocean. In the early 2000s Ed Brubaker took control of the characters, and the first thing he did was bring Bucky back. Almost everyone was against the idea (and really, what is the internet if not a pool of overreactive fanboys?). The only problem was, Brubaker did it right.
Bucky was a stupid character. A knock off of Robin when you get down to it, but Brubaker changed that. Bucky 16 years old, forged his documents to join the war effort (like many teens at the time did). Brubaker retroactively added something fresh. Bucky was a sniper, a killer. Cap was the face of America and the war, his image couldn’t be sullied. When people needed to be killed, it was Bucky’s job.
But how did he bring him back? The same rocket that detonated over the Atlantic was to have killed Bucky, only it didn’t. He did lose his left arm, and the Soviets found him. They brainwashed him and gave him a cybernetic arm. He became their assassin, the Winter Solider. He spent years in cryo-sleep, only to be thawed out when there was a target. Much like Cap, he became a man out of time. Earlier in Brubaker’s run, Cap found and rescued Bucky. Bucky was reluctant for a time, upset at what he’d become. That changed when Cap was killed at the end of Marvel’s Civil War story line (an very good story with amazing art).
Now, a void needed to be filled. Bucky became the next Captain America. He had many good adventures. Eventually, the revolving door spun and Steve came back in some convoluted way I didn’t entirely understand when I read it. Steve shortly after became head of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Bucky stayed as Captain America, until his enemies revealed he was the Winter Solider. Bucky’s death was faked so he could go back into hiding, and Steve took up the shield (no pun intended) once again.
With Marvel NOW!, their new initiative, they’ve changed things up. Brubaker, after over 8 years has left Cap, and more importantly Bucky, behind. Rick Remender has taken over the book. Cap has been a very political/spy/thriller book during Brubaker’s tenure. Now Remender has taken Cap into Dimension Z, giving the book a heavy sci-fi feel. Only 4 issues in and it’s one of my favorites every month. This is what I love about comic book characters, they are mythology. We could have a humor, sci-fi, horror, spy, or dramatic story from the same characters.
Brubaker’s run is the basis for the 2nd Captain America movie (subtitled The Winter Soldier). Looking forward to it? What Marvel Now! books are you enjoying? Comment below!