Have I mentioned that I SUCK at reading graphic novels. It takes me hours and hours to get through books that your average reader can kill in one sitting. I'm a slow reader anyway, but graphic novels just kill me. All the pretty pictures activate some kind of latent ADD in my brain and I just space the heck out looking at them and I lose track of dialogue...So anyway, knowing how painful it is for me to read these things, you should never take a graphic novel recommendation from me lightly. I spent a lot of time with this book, and if I can still honestly type the words "I liked it," that means it's a good book.
Captain America: Winter Soldier is essentially the story of a prisoner of war. It's about how Cap's partner/sidekick, Bucky, was thought dead but was really captured by the enemy. The KGB finds him frozen, revives him, and decides to use him as a weapon against America and it's allies. They continually brainwash him and keep him on ice between missions so that he doesn't remember his previous life and loyalties...Except little things keep creeping back in, and he does start to question his orders. Then, Cap discovers the truth--that his old friend might be alive in some capacity--and he wants to save him.
Captain America happens to be one of the super heroes that I really, really like, for a number of reasons. He represents, in my mind, that ridiculous overblown surge of patriotism that existed once upon a time (now seen only in brief glimpses), and to me there's a certain romance in that. I liked the movie, for example, because it had this hilariously uncomplex plot where Cap represents all that is good and American, and he fights the clearly evil Nazis and he wins. This book asks the question of how that exact character would fair in the modern world, having faced multitudes of personal tragedies. Suddenly the politics are more complex and things are less black and white. I liked the switch up.
This book really made me care about Bucky, if only for Cap's sake. It does a good job of convincing you that these two men were great friends, and that the loss of that friendship was devastating. With that in place, when Cap starts to realize that Bucky could be alive, but may have done some horrible things, you feel his conflicted emotions and his desire to fix everything.
The art is kind of a mixed bag. There are times when the characters look too old and too rough. But I'm not expert in art, so take that with a grain of salt.
I really wanted more from the ending. I understand that this is part of a series, and not the complete story, but I was taken aback by the abrupt cut off.
The villain. God, I really can't seem to get behind comic book villains. Lukin comes across as a one dimensional guy who is already pretty evil, and then he gets kind of brainwashed into acting even less rational..yep, seen that before. And possessions and split personalities and all that crap. Bleh, boring, whatever.
So, yes, I would recommend this book. Even if you aren't too familiar with Captain America, there is enough of an intro to give context to the story, and the plot is interesting by itself. I found the entire story very engaging. 4 stars.