Louis Santiago and the Gentleman Monster on the First Three Issues of ‘Winter Soldier’

Louis Santiago (LS): Confession: I’ve never been into Captain America. I enjoy the character, but I’ve read next to none of his comic, despite the great talent behind it; the book just wasn’t my thing. So when you introduced the idea of doing a post on Winter Soldier, I was kind of on the fence about it. But then, I read the first three issues… and I enjoyed the hell out of them. But you’ve read a ton of Captain America. Did you expect this to be good?

Gentleman Monster (GM): I came at this from the opposite position; I’ve been reading Captain America on and off since Mark Waid was writing the character in the late 90’s. I’m also a huge fan of Ed Brubaker. My expectations were that at the very least, the book would be acceptable.
However, Brubaker, Guice, and Breitweiser put together a really strong first 3 issues. The book has it’s own identity so it doesn’t feel unnecessary. This is a story we couldn’t get in Captain America which gives us and other readers more of an incentive to read Winter Soldier.

LS: I think that’s really the major point of interest for me; I’ve tried reading Cap before, and despite liking the character and the people writing him, I just never got into it. But Winter Soldier takes a whole new direction that I can get behind. Maybe it’s because I think this take on Bucky, as this ex-soldier Soviet, experimental spy–a man who’s died several times and keeps coming back–is really, really intriguing.
Or maybe it’s because the art totally takes that approach to Bucky and shapes it into like… well… Marvel Gear Solid.

I definitely don't mean to suggest that Guice and Breitweiser are doing any copying because that's just not true; their work on Winter Soldier is definitely distinct and manages its own brand of seriousness and playfulness (as evidenced by the "THWIP" in the panel above. However, I do mean to say that there's a likely accidental similarity between MGS's Solid Snake and the Winter Soldier that highlights just how separate of an entity Barnes now is--one who's completely outside of Cap's shadow.

GM: He does contact the Colonel by Codec a lot in this book.

LS: Ha ha! Seriously though, all he needs is the goatee and headband.

GM: “Infinite ammo.”

LS: Of course! Getting back on track though, this probably accidental similarity between the two franchises isn’t a bad thing–at least not for me. I think it’s an awesome approach.

GM: Exactly, it could work as a free standing property independent of Captain America and the Marvel Universe.

LS: Which, in my eyes, is genius.

GM: The creative team also does a magnificent job of incorporating Marvel characters, history, and locations without drowning us in exposition or making it a series of guest stars you feel awkward about not recognizing.

LS: Indeed. Example: I didn’t know who Lucia von Bardas was before I started reading, but then I was filled in during the comic. I wound up feeling like their full intent was to make something anyone can pick up, which I appreciate.

GM: Lucia von Bardas from Secret War is a character I haven’t seen since college, but she fits perfectly for this plot. I also love seeing the Red Ghost and his super apes as antagonists, but it doesn’t dwell on their entire fictional histories. “European supervillains” is all you need to know about them.

LS: Yeah. And in not dwelling on any back stories, the overall conspiracy plot isn’t totally muddled. For me, it can be summed up as a book that knows what it has to do to entertain and does it instead of taking itself way too seriously. So the reader wins.

GM:However, the Red Ghost has a great origin story. He realized anyone can get superpowers if you just fly a rocket through same radiation belt as did the Fantastic Four. So he did it–WITH APES.
But I’m getting off topic.

LS: You love the Red Ghost so much.

GM: Red Ghost and his Super Apes illustrate another key strength of Winter Soldier. It’s got a great cast. The Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Nick Fury, and even Jasper Sitwell are a great starting point to build a book around. All of these characters have history with each other that isn’t always going to help them with their missions. Also, Bucky is thought to be dead so this is all incredibly illegal.

LS: So it has a great cast. It has great art. It reads very clearly and has really good character moments and elements. And also, it’s highly illegal.

GM: This book is like the best party you ever blacked out at.

LS: Ha! Touche, sir. When does the forth issue come out?

GM: April 11th.

LS: Very cool. Well, is there anything more you wanted to say about Winter Soldier?

GM: I advise our readers to get caught up. It’s worth it. Also, the cover to number four demonstrates why this book needs to be read by everyone.

LS: Okay, seriously, if that doesn’t win them over, I don’t know what will.

GM: You’d have to be dead inside to resist a machine gun wielding Soviet Super Ape.

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