Captain America: Winter Soldier Volume 2

Ed Brubaker explores the nature and effects of memory in Captain America: Winter Soldier Volume 2. Cap has been working with Nick Fury and SHIELD agent Sharon Carter to stop a former Russian General who has the Cosmic Cube (aka the Maguffin, the magical object that starts the story going). They’ve found some pictures of an assassin, working for the Russian, who resembles Bucky Barnes, Cap’s former sidekick who was killed at the end of WWII.

Captain America: Winter Soldier Volume 2 cover
Captain America:
Winter Soldier Volume 2
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Brubaker gives these characters a tangible sense of history, in more than one way. There’s the obvious aspect, with the heroes trying to figure out whether Bucky survived and what might have happened to him. Beyond that, Sharon and Cap once dated, and they still have feelings that affect their professional interaction. They’re adults, though, so they try to use the good parts of their memories — knowing how to talk to each other, for instance — and leave the bad behind.

It’s that approach that resonates with the reader as well. Reading Marvel comics about characters who’ve been around for decades can be just as confusing as trying to focus on doing the job when an ex-girlfriend is involved. Brubaker takes the good parts and weaves them into a whole greater than the pieces’ sum. The characters think back on the past, showing key information to new readers while revealing themselves through their interpretations of their memories. Those familiar with the characters and their backgrounds will find themselves wondering the same things as Cap — how could this be? is this a good idea?

The art by Steve Epting, Michael Lark, and Mike Perkins is delicious, dense and realistic. The characters have presence, which makes their concerns and conflicts all the more believable (even when we’re asked to accept the possibility of coming back from the dead after fifty years). Whether it’s explosive action scenes or tense discussions, the visuals are gripping.

Superheroes are a specialized branch of science fiction, and they only rarely ask the key question “what if?” Here, Brubaker explores “what if you had a second chance with someone you thought you’d lost? but what if they were no longer the person you knew then?” It’s a terrific metaphor for reunion. Many people can relate to the feeling, albeit in much less dramatic circumstances. It’s the same thing felt when approaching a college reunion or other years-delayed gathering. People’s lives may take them in directions very different than that intended for them. Sometimes, they may even become involved in the wrong kind of world, due to unexpected trauma, and need to be rescued. Those who care for them have to be convinced that they’re still out there, and then decide how best to help them without losing themselves.

This book follows on from Captain America: Winter Soldier Volume 1.


2 Responses to “Captain America: Winter Soldier Volume 2”

  1. James Schee Says:

    Yeah I like the way it uses history to world build. It sort of reminds me of when I was reading LSH for the first time during the 5 years later stuff. Fewer characters yes, but the use of history as an aid not a crutch is very similiar.

  2. Comics! « toxic culture Says:

    […] Comics Worth Reading — Again, this one spills into pop culture a bit more than just comics. But if I don’t want to read about Bob Dylan or Disney or Ally McBeal, I can just scroll past those posts until I find something cool about, say, Captain America. […]

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