Friday, March 14, 2014

Captain America: Winter Soldier--The New Book is Now Out! Winter Soldier Comes to Theaters in U.S., April 4, 2014!

Captain America: Winter Soldier
by Ed Brubaker, Illustrators: Charles
Epting, Mike Perkins and Michael Lark.
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     Tuesday, March 11, 2014, I received my hardcover book, Captain America: Winter Soldier that I had previously preordered from Amazon.com. Thankfully, I was able to get the book on the day of its release--I eagerly devoured its long-awaited pages.

     Today's review of the new publication is in large part due to the fact that the movie, Captain America: Winter Soldier, which is loosely based on the book, is slated to be released to theaters on Friday, April 4, 2014 (Just three short weeks from now!). 

     Movie Premise: According to Hit Fix, the premise of the movie, loosely, is one in which Captain America is trying to adjust to modern life after the Avengers did battle in New York, against the forces of evil. Now, Steve Rogers struggles to make sense of his life in a modern world. Steve is soon entangled in an intrigue after a fellow member of S.H.I.E.L.D. is attacked; this intrigue is one in which Steve finds himself exposed to professional assassins, and one in which even the world is at risk. Eventually Captain America and The Black Widow enlist the aid of a new (to the big screen) superhero, The Falcon. Just as suddenly, a new super enemy appears: The Winter Soldier.[1]

     Well, now that we know the premise of the upcoming movie, let's take a look at the book, itself, in order to see how the book was adapted to the big screen. We will come back to talking about the movie, a little more, below. First, let's take a look at the physical book and what's in it and then we'll take a general look at the basic plot of the book.

THE BOOK:
     First, I'm not quite sure how to categorize this "book." When the stories originally came out, they came out as individual comic books published on the typical pulp paper for which "comics" are known. They have also been published in a "collection" entitled Captain America: Winter Soldier: Ultimate Collection (see image to the left). This collection is 304 glossy pages, has a card stock cover and includes the comic book issues, "Out of Time" (issues 1-8); "The Lonesome Death of Jack Monroe;" and "Winter Soldier" (issues 8-9 and 11-14). I purchased, read, and examined this book in its entirety.

     Then Marvel put out the book I am reviewing today, Captain America: Winter Soldier, as a book that relates directly to the upcoming movie, Winter Soldier (See image at top of page).[11] This book is a hardback edition containing "Out of Time" (issues 1-8); "The Lonesome Death of Jack Monroe (issue #7);" and "Winter Soldier" (issues 8-9 and 11-14) [Note: I have also seen it described as Captain America 1-9 and 11-14; it's the same thing.]. So, this new Marvel book, specifically published for the upcoming movie, appears to have exactly the same (story-wise) content as the Ultimate Collection. The most notable differences in the content appears to be that the hardcover edition includes an "Afterword" and some additional pages of promotional art. Additionally, the hardcover edition is larger (it is really beautiful)--it measures 11.1 x 7.4 x 0.8" while the card stock edition, Ultimate Collection, is 10.2 x 6.5 x 0.3" in size.
                                                          
     So, here's my dilemma. Originally, the stories were published episodically as "comics" on cheap pulp paper and included advertising--easy definition, here, these were "comics." Now, however, the same content is published as a collected, bound volume on expensive, glossy paper with card stock and hard covers, and it does not contain any advertising. It is not advertised as a graphic novel, although it has a story arc (expressed in pictures with dialog) having a beginning, middle, and an end. All this having been said, I still don't know how to categorize it--I guess I'll just refer to it as a "book" for convenience sake. So, that decided, I guess we can get on with the book review.


The "Tesseract" or alternately
called, "The Cube," and "The
Cosmic Cube." [2]
     The Prologue: The Red Skull carries on a negotiation with General Lukin in the USSR. General Lukin has "inherited" a stash of artifacts from his predecessor, General Karpov. The Skull greedily eyes the body in a dusty stasis chamber, and just as greedily, General Lukin wants the Skull to provide him with the "Cosmic Cube." Lukin will not trade the body in the dusty stasis chamber to the Skull. The man in the stasis chamber was, apparently, a "very useful...Cold War...secret weapon against the US" (Afterward). Likewise, the Skull (although he has yet to acquire the Cube) refuses to trade away his imminent acquisition of the Cube. The Skull postulates that with the Cube, both Captain America and the world will fall to him. The two men then form a short and uneasy alliance.

Steve Rogers, in his civilian garb,
working out at the gym. CBM be-
lieves the upcoming Captain America
movie, Winter Soldier, will be more of
a Steve Rogers movie than a "Cap"
movie. [3] I've seen the trailers for the
upcoming movie, and I'm not so sure
about that. I guess we will just have
to wait and see how the movie
turns out on Friday, April 04, 2014.
     The Main Story:  At this point, the narrator of the story is the Skull. It is five years later, and Lukin and the Skull have had a falling out. The Skull has the Cube and seeks to power up the nearly drained artifact. The Skull displays his intense hatred of Cap and all that Cap stands for. The Skull openly mocks Cap, ridiculing him for revealing his identity and making it easy for him to follow and learn all about Cap and his life. We see, for example, the nostalgic Cap, alter ego, Steve Rogers, listening to old music--a man "out of time." We also get the back story, here, what happened to Bucky (of course, slightly different than the movie version), Cap's losses and tragedies, and then Cap frozen with the world moving on, leaving him behind.

Here's a rather graphic picture
of the shocking end of the Red
Skull I took for you from my
book so you can see the dramatic
end to the Red Skull!
    The story then moves to the Skull's penthouse apartment where we find the Skull on the phone with Lukin rehashing the old argument about the Cube. The Skull indicates that he is putting his own plan into action at midnight and that he will take everything from Lukin. Suddenly, the Skull's eyes open shockingly, and as we look down, we see a huge hole in the Skull's torso--the Skull falls over dead and the Cube falls out of his hands. A shadowy figure reaches out and grabs the Cube and then picks up the Skull's phone. The shadowy figure says, "Mission accomplished, General. The Cube is now yours" (Afterward.).


In a USA Today interview, Samuel
L. Jackson says of his role as Nick
Fury, that he gets to speak to Cap
"soldier to soldier," and help Cap
come to terms with living in a
modern society. [4]
  As the investi- gation into the Skull's death by S.H.I.E.L.D., in- cluding Cap, Nick Fury, and Sharon Carter (Agent 13) begins, satellite photos of a mysterious person leaving the area are examined. Distilling down the investigation, here, we eventually see Nick Fury informing Cap about the results of the photo investigation: Nick tells Cap he isn't going to like what he's found--Fury shows Cap the photos. Cap can't believe his eyes when he sees his good friend Bucky in them.

     Needless to say, further investigation is warranted by this discovery, first of all to determine if Bucky really is alive. Cap goes to the island where he and Bucky ended their careers together to investigate the crime scene. After all, this was where Bucky died stopping Baron Zemo from releasing atomic destruction on U.S. soil. Cap is confused in his memories and realizes that Bucky might actually still be alive.

Kevin Feige's beautiful concept art of  Bucky as
The Winter Soldier, facing off against Cap.[5]
     A short time later Cap finds himself facing off with Bucky attempting to kill him. Although Cap prevails, and survives the encounter, he feels tortured by what's happened to his friend. Obtaining the Cube, Cap is able to restore Bucky's memories, and along with Sharon Carter (Agent 13), help Bucky come to terms with what has happened to him. Bucky eventually begins working for S.H.I.E.L.D. and over time rekindles his lifelong friendship with Cap. Cap and Sharon also rekindle their one-time relationship.

Sharon Carter as seen in one scene
from the book, where she is talking to
Cap. This is the image that casting
directors were looking when they
began to cast for the role of Sharon
Carter in Winter Soldier. Reportedly,
Emily VanCamp, see in the photo
(just below), has been cast as
Sharon Carter in Winter Soldier. [6]
     Bucky's Story: What drove Bucky to become the Winter Soldier? Let's take a look at what happened when he and Cap save the U.S. from nuclear annihilation--the day Cap was frozen and Bucky left to float and freeze on a block of drifting ice.

     The Soviets arrived and found Bucky floating and frozen on that block of ice. Karpov, Lukin's mentor, finds and retreives Bucky's body in hopes he is a super soldier like Cap. After years of testing and finding out Bucky is just an ordinary guy, Karpov, now a powerful KGB member, looks for a way to use Bucky against Cap and America.

     The KGB wake up Bucky, but Bucky has lost all of his memories. This made him pliable and the KGB began to mold him into a killing machine. He had lost his arm, so they gave him a new cybernetic arm and sent him out on mission after mission of assassination and terror. But each time Bucky went out, he started remembering little bits, little pieces, of his former life. After one mission, he went missing for days--the KGB reeled him in and put him back in hibernation until they wanted another assassination completed. Repeat. Refreeze.

     The Berlin Wall fell. Karpov died. Bucky was in hibernation in a secret underground facility--his chamber gathered dust...until the day Lukin and The Red Skull came to discuss business together.

     One More Plot Line: Knowing how Cap made appearances to sell Bonds for the U.S., one big oil corporation attempts to woo him to make similar appearances for them. Knowing Cap as we do, and given that he is in the middle of the investigation about Bucky, he, naturally, tells them, "I'm not a corporate shill." and "If it were up to me lobbying would be against the law" (Afterword). Needless to say, the corporation doesn't take kindly to his retort. One of the corporate men indicate that there was "...another one of these guys in a warehouse somewhere...."

The Hand Lettering of Kelly Cummings.[7]
      The corporation goes about purchasing the Captain America from the '50s (a Commie basher and McCarthyite) with the proviso they keep him out of the U.S. The old '50s Cap performs like the "trained monkey," he felt himself to be at that time. General Lukin sees footage of him giving a speech--he immediately recognizes him.

     This Cap eventually is able to get free of the medication they have him on and realize what decade he is awake in, now. Eventually, the '50s Cap clashes with our Cap (the man of the people, New Deal-er from the Depression) in a horrible, "hellish battle" on the streets of New York.

Concept art provided by the Chud
Community at Chud.com. This
is the artists concept of Falcon,
and from what I've seen in the
trailers, it's pretty good. [8]
   
     The Juiciest Tidbits for Last: OK. Well if you've all seen the trailer for the new upcoming Winter Soldier movie you all know that Falcon (a superhero for our side) makes an appearance to help Cap. And while he doesn't have a huge role in the book, it is exciting to see the character make an appearance.

From the last page of the book:
General Lukin talking to The
Red Skull, who has taken up
abode in his body.[9]
     And last, but not least...drumroll please ...The Red Skull is still alive inside of General Lukin's body. WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING? OMG! The Red Skull is still alive. I know, I know. But if you really think about it. How juicy is that? I mean, The Red Skull is a really great supervillain. I'm sure that Marvel really wouldn't want to lose a "peach" like The Red Skull permanently.

     Apparently, The Red Skull attempted to switch his psyche with Lukin's. The Tessaract only had enough power for one transfer, so, while the Red Skull's psyche was transferred into Lukin's body, Lukin's psyche was not transferred into The Red Skull's body.The result is that both psyches are now housed in Lukin's body. The last pages of the book show Lukin and The Red Skull having an inner conversation; the pane on the left contains one of the snippits of dialog.

WHAT I THINK ABOUT THE BOOK:
Anthony Mackie will star in the role of The
Falcon. #Nerd Swag reports Mackie's look
as the "Ultimate Falcon look, which is a more
realistic one and goes with the rest of the
S.H.I.E.L.D. squad." #Nerd Swag believes
that Falcon's wings will be CGI. This con-
cept art was done bey Stephen Savelli.[10]
     Well, well, well...what do we have here? I have to say I was "Marvel-ously" surprised by this book (Sorry about the bad pun!). First, it is just flat out beautiful! Since it is a hardcover, it will last forever. The dustjacket is gorgeous and protects the beautiful hard cover, underneath.

     The pages are semi-glossy--far finer than any comic book and much better than even some graphic novels that I've seen. There are 312 pages, so it is a sizeable book. Unlike comic books, this book has no advertising, whatsoever (My kudos to the publishers, on this one!).

     The Afterward generously sums up the entire contents of the book and also includes a few pages of promotional art by Steve Epting, one of the Illustrators. I also loved the art work, the graphics being beautifully rendered--the flashbacks to the past are done in grayscale so it is easy to see when the time shifts take place.

     The color is flat-out gorgeous, which, by the way belies the rather somber-colored and serious-looking cover; which by the way, is the message movie producers want to convey--a serious movie, serious themes and plots and not some jokey, comic.

Brian Truitt, USA Today Reporter;
September 22, 2013.
   In an interview for USA Today, Ed Brubaker told the interviewer, "I read the script and I was really blown away by it." He went on to say that "The tone of it and the Bucky stuff is so perfect and the way I'd want it to be, I was so thrilled to see that. But to me the biggest thing, too, is it's the first time Marvel has put out a movie where there's a specific book the title of the movie relates to." [11]

     My opinion is that I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Brubaker. Marvel did a GREAT job with this book. Even though Marvel fell on their faces when they tried to create a graphic novel for the hugely anticipated movie, Thor: The Dark World [Entitled: Thor: The Dark World Prelude (a graphic novel).]. They advertised that book as a graphic novel, but it failed miserably, in my estimation--I've already reviewed the book and will not do so, again, here, except to point you to my review, posted: October 29, 2013, by clicking this link. But here, in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Marvel has succeeded tremendously with this book! My kudos to all who worked on this fine book!

     Originally, when I planned this blog post, I intended to include with the Captain America: Winter Soldier book review, two other books. First, Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier Prelude (which included: Marvel's Captain America: The First Avenger Adaptation 1-2; MCA: The Winter Soldier Infinite Comic 1, Captain America (1968 117, Captain America (2005) 6; The Ultimates 2: Material From Tales of Suspense (1959) 57; and Handbook Profiles); this book was originally slated for release on 03-11-14; disappoingly, I was notified that it was delayed to 03-18-14, and then delayed again to 03-25-14. If I wait until March 25th, the movie would be upon us before I could get this posted.

     Second, Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The Art of the Movie Slipcase, this release date is April 15, 2014. I obviously couldn't get the blog post out before the movie if I included it in this post. So...I am just doing without them...perhaps I might be able to update the blog post (or, make a "Part 2" blog post) after these books are released to the public [Sorry...no image of the cover is available for this book, yet.].

THE MOVIE:
     Oh, my gosh, I am so excited and can hardly wait for the movie to be released on April 4, 2014. I obtained for you, the IMDb trailer of Winter Soldier--please enjoy![12]  I haven't a clue just how much the book and the movie will differ, it's anybody's guess. Take a look at the trailer and see if you can figure it out.



     Stars are Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America; Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow; Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter; Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier; Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark; Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter/Agent 13; Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury; Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce; Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/The Falcon; and Garry Shandling as Senator Stern. The film was directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, Writers (Screenplay) were Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, (Concept and Story) Ed Brubaker; and (Comic Book) Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie
poster for opening day, April 4, 2014. [13]
MY RECOMMENDATIONS AND RATING:
     The movie MPAA rating is PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence throughout, and some profanity. Likewise, I would rate the book similarly: It has violence and some people died in the book (blood and gore, as well); profanity, some alcohol, drugs and smoking and some (as IMDb puts it,) "Frightening/Intense Scenes." However, for adult viewers who enjoy action/adventure/sci-fi books and movies, you will, undoubtedly enjoy this book and movie.
It definitely earned a good book rating![12]
     I am very happy with this book. It has earned the given rating for all the above-listed (good) reasons. I award this book 4.5 stars.

     Thank you for joining me this week to look at this exciting new book in anticipation of its adaptation into an exciting film which will be released to theaters on April 4, 2014.

     If you want to do something really good for yourself this week, pick up a book and read. Read something, read anything--even a graphic novel or comic book. Reading is good for your mind and your life. [Parents, keep in mind that your teens will want to go see this movie. If you bought them the book, they might be inspired to read it and then perhaps have their interest stimulated to read something else! Just saying. Keep it in mind.]

     I really hope you all have a lovely, productive and enjoyable week. To put you in a good frame of mind, say something nice to someone [And parents, say something nice to your teenagers.], and then pick up a book and read!

Until next time...
A white rose.[14]
...many happy pages of reading!

All my love to you.

Sharon.










REFERENCES
______________________________________________________
1. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Hitfix.com. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
2. "Tesseract." Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki.com. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
3. The Daily Super Hero (06-04-13). "Editorial: Is Captain America: The Winter Soldier More of a Steve Rogers Movie?" CBM (Comic Book Movie.com). Retrieved March 13, 2014.
5. Hoob (05-02-13). "Kevin Feige Drops News and New Winter Soldier Concept Art From Captain America: The Winter Soldier." You Bent My Wookie.com. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
6. "CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER Has Found Its Sharon Carter." (02-02-13) The Nerd Signal.com. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
7. "The Year of Lettering: The Hand Lettering of Kelly Cummings." 2013 Year of Lettering.Tumbler.com. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
8. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Pre-Release Discussion." Chud.com (Chud Community). Retrieved March 13, 2014.
9. "Red Skull." en.Wikipedia.org. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
10. "Falcon spotted on set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier." (05-06-13) #Nerd Swag.com. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
11. "Brubaker 'Blown Away' by 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Script." (September 23, 2013) The Hollywood Reporter.com. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
12. "4.5-star" Mobile Phone Games.wiki.com Retrieved March 14, 2014.
13. "Captain America: Winter Soldier." IMDb.com. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
14. "White Rose-Butterflies Virginia Bridal." Merchant Circle.com. Retrieved March 13, 2014.