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GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Captain America: Return of the Winter Soldier Omnibus

 
Captain America Return of the Winter Soldier Omnibus
Captain America Return of the Winter Soldier Omnibus
Captain America Return of the Winter Soldier Omnibus

 
Overview
 

Story by: Ed Brubaker, Cullen Bunn, James Asmus and Marc Andreyko
 
Art by: Steve Epting, Francesco Francavilla and Joe Kubert
 
Publisher:
 
FG RATING
 
 
 
 
 
4/ 5


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To sum it all up..

THE SNAPPY SALUTE Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run is considered one of the most significant comic book superhero runs in the 21st century due solid storytelling, thought-provoking plots-and-twists, and most importantly, the re-introduction of Bucky Buchanan Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier. Not only the latter came back out of nowhere, Ed made sure that Bucky […]

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Posted July 30, 2015 by

 
FULL REVIEW
 
 

Captain America Return of the Winter Soldier Omnibus

THE SNAPPY SALUTE

Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run is considered one of the most significant comic book superhero runs in the 21st century due solid storytelling, thought-provoking plots-and-twists, and most importantly, the re-introduction of Bucky Buchanan Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier. Not only the latter came back out of nowhere, Ed made sure that Bucky delivered a tremendous impact to the Marvel Universe by becoming Steve Roger’s reluctant successor (with guns!). Naturally, we are talking about superhero comics and no one is permanent, death included. This is the general premise of the fourth and last volume of Ed’s entire Captain America run in omnibus treatment entitled Captain America: Return of the Winter Soldier Omnibus.

This omnibus collects the following: Captain America and Bucky #620-628; Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1; Fear Itself #7.1: Captain America; Winter Soldier #1-14; and Captain America (2011) #11-19, clocking more than 750 pages. It has Ed’s afterword that originally appeared in Captain America (2011) #19, and additional artworks made by some of the finest comic illustrators nowadays, like frequent collaborator Steve Epting, Francesco Francavilla and the late Joe Kubert. However, it is the thinnest volume of the entire Brubaker’s Cap run. Furthermore, it has three more co-writers onboard, namely Cullen Bunn, James Asmus and Marc Andreyko, in which Ed served as the overall writer and plotter. Unlike the first three volumes, this one has four writers, with Ed naturally the brains.

As always, Marvel omnibuses are known for their sturdy and high quality binding, unlike DC and many high-end deluxe hardcover editions. Story-wise, Ed incorporates his vast knowledge of the Second World War by narrating the untold stories of Steve Rogers and Bucky during that historic era. Furthermore, the Cold War and noir feel is virtually omnipresent in the pages of his Winter Soldier run that ends up more bittersweet than ever for the former top assassin. But the main points here are Steve Roger’s return as the wielder of the shield and Bucky’s (mis)adventures as the Winter Soldier, which Ed ended these stories nicely.

My little misgivings crept when there are some chapters are basically served as or part of the Marvel mega-event FEAR ITSELF, not stand-alone Captain America stories per se.  Naturally, Mr. Brubaker acted professionally and knows how to play as a good team player whenever there are comic superhero events, and crafted excellent story tiers to the overall grand picture, particularly the World War II connectivity. Second, in connection with his co-writers, there are chapters that the voices of his fellow comic scribes emerged prominently or overlapping his distinctive voice. This is evident in the case of Bunn’s over-the-top violent and gritty narrative in the last Captain America story arc (before issue #19). Nothing wrong here per se but hawkeyed readers can spot that rather different tone set by Bunn from Brubaker’s. Third, due to tight deadlines in the superhero mainstream industry, there are several artists involved as mentioned and some readers may be either confused or irritated on the various artists’ styles, especially with Francavilla’s four-colored set-up. But this one is understandable in hindsight, and in fairness with Marvel, it let Ed finished the Captain America run on his own terms that came to full circle, most especially with Bucky ‘The Winter Soldier’ Barnes. Furthermore, Marvel is still using the inferior type of paper instead the glossy and thick one in the previous omnibuses of the yesteryears. And speaking of inferior paper quality, this is comparatively pricey despite the less 800 pages (the first three volumes averaged more than 1000 pages and priced the same with this one). Therefore, this is the weakest volume, but nonetheless highly readable and enjoyable if focused on Ed’s excellent narrative.

Overall, Ed’s literary fingerprints are totally visible in this valedictory Captain America volume. Just like virtually all great superhero mainstream run, the status quo of the old regime is given emphasis here as shown above. Ed made sure that his beloved superhero characters had a proper send-off that would make a relative smooth sailing transition for his successors, namely Rick Remender and Jason Latour for Cap and Bucky, respectively. Ed ended his superhero stories (yet) on his own turf, thus a remarkable landmark in itself.

 

 


Paul Ramos

 


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