The best of winter has finally arrived!
Yes, I know it's officially spring and that evil season should no longer be named - but winter has finally arrived! The Winter Soldier, that is.
That's right. We have a new Marvel movie. "Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier" is now in theaters and if you're like me, you're probably planning on seeing it today.
Advance reviews suggest that the film brings more to the table in terms of advancing Marvel's cinematic universe than was expected. Plus it's apparently as much a thriller as it is an epic action flick.
Why are you even still reading? Get to the theater! Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson are waiting!
THE WINTER SOLDIER
Nerding Out With Nick Dean is a monthly column about comic books, movies and more. For more, visit Nerding Out With Nick Dean.blogspot.com.
In preparation for seeing this new Marvel film, I went back to the "Captain America" series that started in 2004. At that time, Marvel relaunched the series with a new No. 1 issue and a storyline written by Ed Brubaker.
Interested in learning about this mysterious "Winter Soldier" figure? Don't start with any of the books that have his name as a title. Go back to this "Captain America" series, as it's where the character is introduced.
From issue one and on throughout the first arc, Brubaker crafts a murder mystery of sorts with Captain America at the center. Someone's killed the Red Skull and both Captain America and Agent 13 have to travel around the globe picking up clues. But who is this mysterious assassin? And why does Captain America keep having flashbacks to his younger days with the Invaders?
There's a lot at play here in this "Captain America" series and Brubaker does a masterful job at weaving so many elements together into one character-defining story. Even for those not familiar with Captain America's long history, Brubaker gives you more than enough about the character and others (such as the Invaders and Red Skull and Sharon Carter) to advance the story he's telling. And it's all worth the wait. The delayed gratification is an epic payoff when the details of who killed the Red Skull emerge and we learn just who the Winter Soldier is.
Having been released in 2004-05, you can certainly find this story collected in trade or available digitally. I read mine on the Marvel Unlimited app. Look it up. I'm sure it'll prove a worthwhile companion piece to the new movie.
In the world of DC, there's a great new Green Arrow arc to buy if you haven't already read it in single issues. Just released in trade paperback is volume four of DC's New 52 "Green Arrow" title. What's important to note though is that even though this is a fourth volume of the title, it's also a new beginning of sorts.
Writer Jeff Lemire took over the "Green Arrow" title with issue No. 17 (where this trade starts). Even though DC didn't renumber it as such, the start of Lemire's arc is almost like a new No. 1 issue for the title. If you haven't been reading it, you can get on board now without having had to have read any of the earlier issues. In fact, that's exactly what I did and what I recommend doing if you're at all interested in this New 52 character.
In Lemire's arc, titled "The Kill Machine," Oliver Queen's world is falling to pieces all around him. A villain named Komodo is complicating his life at every turn and a new character in his world alerts him to secrets about his past, the island he was stranded on and his father's own secret life.
I'm a longtime fan of Lemire's work. From his Vertigo stuff to "Essex County" and now his work in the New 52, I really do enjoy his storytelling. But so far, in terms of traditional superhero stuff, this "Green Arrow" run is top -notch. Check it out. And even more so than the story, the art is beautiful. Artist Andrea Sorrentino does things with color and panel layout and individual frame which reminds you just how amazing the comic book format can be.
Sick of superheroes? Don't care about either the "Captain America" or "Green Arrow" books I just mentioned? Well, Image has the cure for what ails you.
Image isn't Marvel. And it's not DC. Sure, the company publishes "Spawn" and "Savage Dragon" and all those other classic Image titles that jump to mind. But put that all aside! Image has a lot more happening lately and if you haven't been paying attention, now's a good time to catch up.
Writer Mark Millar has a new series called "Starlight" which is so far exceptional. Google Millar's name if you don't know it. He's done a heck of a lot more than just "Kick-Ass."
In "Starlight," Millar's telling the story of an old man who was once a space adventurer. Think John Carter. Think Adam Strange. Of course, this poor guy lived most of his life on Earth after his adventures, but no one believed him. So if a spaceship shows up for you at this point in your life, there's no reason not to leave everything behind, right?
Still too much of a superhero story? We'll then forget "Starlight" and pick up Rick Remender's "Black Science." Here we have a sci-fi scenario where a group of scientists (one with kids in tow) have discovered how to travel between dimensions. However, the machine broke on their first trip out. So now the group's shopping between dimensions in hopes of getting home. It's some really interesting stuff from the guy who's given us the epic "Ragnarok Now" story in "Uncanny Avengers."
Whereas "Black Science" is all about traveling to different dimensions, Image's "Rocket Girl" series has a time travel premise. In "Rocket Girl," Brandon Montclare has crafted a story about a teen cop from the future who winds up in New York City in the 1970s. And she has a rocket pack! The real attraction here though is artist Amy Reeder. The images in this book are just simply gorgeous and it's hard not to love Dayoung Johansson, the spunky teen girl cop from the future who's dead set on righting wrongs and fixing things in her own timeline by altering the past. Honestly, it's a fun read that's beautiful just to look at.
Want something a little more adult? That's practically Image's forte! So check out "Sex Criminals." It's a black comedy comic with a sci-fi twist. The two main characters can stop time. The pause in time only lasts for a short while though. And it only comes about after they've, well ... The book's called "Sex Criminals" and it's written by Matt Fraction (who writes "Hawkeye"), so I recommend checking it out.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY
Free Comic Book Day is right around the corner!
Our local shop, Chautauqua Comics, has been participating in the nationwide event for years - so give 'em a call for details about next month's event.
Free Comic Book Day happens on the first Saturday in May each year.
QUESTION OF THE MONTH
William Nasland and Jeffrey Mace are both Marvel characters who got to serve as what superhero for short times? Skip to the "Assorted Etceteras" section at the end of this month's column for the answer.
There's so much to catch up on from the last month, faithful readers! Did you see the finale of "The Walking Dead"!? So amazing. I loved how certain themes and scenarios were pulled straight out of the comics but were done differently for the show - such as the group scene at the car and what "The Hunters" storyline has now become.
Michael Bay's new "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" has a trailer out and it looks interesting, to say the least. Lots of big action and some updated-looking mutant turtles. I dunno ... As with so much else, I'll remain cautiously optimistic. Cowabunga!
More from me in a month's time!
But first, in answer to this month's trivia question, both William Nasland and Jeffrey Mace served as Captain America! Steve Rogers hasn't been the only one to wear the stars and stripes in Marvel's long history.