There are the comic books you read because they star a particularly favourite character – or group of characters. There are also the comic books you read because a major got-the-fans-talking storyline is running through them. Of course, there are the comics you read because a certain artist you enjoy is working on them, not to mention the comics you read because an effectively brilliant marketing blitz has convinced you to pick the books up.
Then again, maybe it’s the name of the writer that has peaked your interest.
And that’s how Ed Brubaker drew me into Winter Soldier.
I was a little late to the writer, Ed Brubaker. I knew of him, but didn’t read his work until the hardcover collected editions of Gotham Central started hitting the shelves. Even then, I was reading Gotham Central because of co-writer Greg Rucka and because I always loved the art of Michael Lark.
In hindsight, I should have been more aware of is work.
Of course, I absolutely adored Gotham Central – specifically Ed Brubaker’s writing on the series. And doncha’ know, he had worked with Michael Lark a few years earlier on Scene of the Crime, another fine title, recently collected in a hardcover edition and making this very column last November!
Over the last year and a half, Ed Brubaker and artist Butch Guice’s monthly offering of Winter Soldier has been, hands down, one of the best comics I’ve ever had the joy of reading. Bold words, I know, but I’m not alone. There are plenty of other Biff Bam Poppers around these parts who feel the same way. To be honest, I wasn’t very familiar with Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s long-time pal, who, it turns out, was kidnapped by the Soviets and brainwashed into being a communist assassin. The Winter Soldier series is Bucky’s penance.
Part superhero comic, part detective noir, and part political thriller, Winter Soldier always had its main protagonist as a central character study. Here was a broken patriot, now in the midst of healing, trying to do right once again and reclaim the man – the hero – he once was. It’s been a fascinating read, month after month, and has won plaudits throughout the industry. For a heightened sense of drama, Brubaker brought back an old assassin compatriot who has forced the brainwashing procedure on Bucky’s love interest, Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow! Issue #14, out today, is the culmination of that storyline and readers have been eagerly awaiting the payoff for the length of the series.
Unfortunately, issue #14 is also Brubaker’s last issue on the title. He’s leaving the medium of comics (at least with the major publishers) in pursuit of television and film projects. The monthly Winter Soldier, I know, won’t be the same without him.
So make the run to your comic book shop today and pick up Winter Soldier #14 – the ending of a grand character study done in epic, action-packed fashion. A warm and fond farewell to an adored series and a favourite writer indeed!
Best of luck in your future projects Ed – we’ll definitely be looking out with fervent interest as to what you’re up to!
Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!