In Do You Remember The First Time? we take a nostalgic trip back in time to discuss a seminal purchase that introduced us to a character, title, creator, or even a hobby.
Tom P: Cap never really clicked with me until Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and Frank D'Armata showed me what I was missing out on with Captain America #1 in 2005. This run has proven to be incredibly influential and its fingerprints can be seen all over the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The book effortlessly blends the spy and superhero genres. It starts with a killer hook as the Red Skull makes a sinister deal with General Lupin, who is, in my opinion, one of the greatest Marvel villains. He's a radical rouge Russian selling KGB-developed weaponry to the highest bidder. It sets up the start of a creepy and uneasy alliance between the old Soviet general and the Nazi fanatic effectively mirroring the uneasy truce between Russia and Germany at the start of World War 2, the conflict Captain America was created for. It’s a plan that eventually leads to the death of Steve Rogers following the events of the Civil War crossover. Many misremember his death as occurring within the pages of that miniseries (which gives the third Captain America movie its title) but it was in this particular run of comics that Steve famously met an assassin’s bullet (whether or not the upcoming film takes this plot point on remains to be seen!). It also features the first appearance or the Winter Soldier, a secret weapon of the Cold War that becomes the backbone of the entire narrative, eventually revealed as Steve’s old partner Bucky Barnes, leading him on a quest to free his old friend.
Brubaker has said he felt mad when he found out there was NO actual Golden Age Captain America issue featuring Cap and Bucky getting blown up stopping Baron Zemo's Buzzbomb. He wrote in an introduction a collected edition in 2007 "How could they just kill this character off-panel?", going on to say "Now and then they would tease us with Bucky's return, too, which made it even worse because it was never him. Always a robot or a look-alike. It even became the unwritten law that was always spoken in comics, no one stays dead except Bucky (and Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy) but I always knew if I got my hands on Captain America, the book, it was a rule I was going to break."
There’s terrific action scene here where Rogers takes out some terrorists who hope to detonate a dirty bomb on Coney Island - he effortlessly and efficiently dispatches them, proving this ‘man out of time’ still has what it takes in the modern world. When I watched the opening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier I couldn't help but be reminded of this and it had me grinning from ear to ear. The issue literally ends with a real bang and I was hooked from that point onwards. I later upgraded the whole run with the Marvel Omnibus which proudly sits on my shelf and it firmly cemented Captain America as my favourite comic book character.
Which is why, this summer, you better believe I'm Team Cap!