or Marvel fans these days the Captain America clan is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and while Chris Evans has sadly made his departure from the Marvel Cinematic Universe his legacy is not left unattended.
It’s heralded by his two best friends, Sam Wilson, and Bucky Barnes, the former of whom is on track to pick up the Captain America mantle in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” season finale.
Played by Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, who’ve brought their off-screen camaraderie into their touching and comedic performances, it’s no surprise that so many are obsessed with the new show.
Sadly though, it’s only six episodes. And while the whispers of a sequel season haven’t been completely squashed yet, it’s going to be at least a year if not more before we get more on screen content from them.
So, in the meantime, why not check out the source material? TFATWS, as the show is referred to in shorthand, didn’t just spring up out of the ground fully written. The show borrows its plot from a wide breadth of Captain America, Falcon, and Winter Soldier comics.
Here is a list of the best comics you should read to satisfy your falcon and winter soldier love, some directly behind the shows’ inspiration and others living in its spirit.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Bucky Barnes’ miraculous return to form in comics, is the direct inspiration behind the MCU’s second Cap film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is the comic series of the same name written by Winter Soldier creator Ed Brubaker.
Fun fact, Ed Brubaker actually has a cameo in the second movie, for anyone who wants to try and spot him.
The comic plays pretty in line with the movie and chronicles Steve’s realization that his old war-time partner might not have died in a tragic explosion but was instead captured by hostile Soviets who brainwashed and tortured Bucky into a mindless assassin to do their bidding.
Bucky doesn’t remember anything about his past, who he is, or the soldiers he spent years fighting and living with.
Captain America: Sam Wilson
In the comics, Sam Wilson’s tenure as Captain America comes with a longer timeframe that the series has yet to catch up with.
In the “Captain America: Sam Wilson” series, with its initial volume released in 2015 and written by Nick Spencer, focuses on Sam’s attempts to keep a very divided and very racist country together as a black man holding the shield.
And Sam doesn’t just have to deal with angry and bigoted civilians but the interplaying of various superheroes as well, even one Steve Rogers, the original Cap who has been sidelined as Commander Rogers due to his aging de-serumed body.
Bucky comes along for the ride as well later on in the series but the entire run is drought with actions and tension that any Cap fan would love to get their hand on.
Trying to remain as spoiler-free as possible, Steve isn’t exactly who he seems to be in this series, and Sam and Bucky can tell. The mystery runs higher and higher until it culminates in one of Marvel’s major and controversial comic events in recent years “Secret Empire”.
Tales of Suspense: Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier
One of the best parts about “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is the banter between Sam and Bucky. Bucky leans very much into some dry self-deprecating humor.
If you’re looking for some more “buddy-cop” or “reluctant road trip” adventures, then the recent “Tales of Suspense: Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier” might tickle your fancy.
Awkwardly, or hysterically as some might take it, this Tale of Suspense teams up Bucky and Clint Barton, Hawkeye, together on a mission to find their mutual ex-girlfriend Natasha who despite being assumed dead seems to be committing crimes across the globe.
Clint, who initially starts this search, reluctantly teams up with Bucky whose tracking skills rival none other but Natasha in the spy world and together they run across Europe in search of the reborn Russian assassin.
The dialogue between the two men is witty and comical, thanks to writer Matthew Roseburg, as are the situations they often find themselves in. It feels very similar to the camaraderie that Sam and Bucky share, enjoyable for fans of TFATWS.
All-New Captain America
The comic that mirrors the plot of TFATWS, it was only in 2015 that Sam Wilson took the mantle of Captain America from an accidentally de-serumed Steve Rogers who was then forced to temporarily step aside.
It’s unlikely that Steve will come back in the show to take the shield from Sam as it so happens in the comics, but in this series “All-New Captain America” written by Rick Remender, fans can enjoy Sam at the head of the Captain America caricature.
Here he faces what it means to be the symbol of a country that for so long has put black people’s wellbeing at the lowest of its priorities.
In this comic Sam finds himself dealing with the nefarious HYDRA, who despite its WW2 origins, is still very much alive and kicking and always willing to cause trouble.
Sam doesn’t just deal with HYDRA’s terroristic tendencies, but their even more sinister manipulations of propaganda about Sam himself, each of which is tinged in racism, trying to smear his character.
Sam struggles with his identity here, and in the comics to come, but as the bearer of the shield before him, he’s a kind-hearted and stubborn man, who in the end wants to do good for everyone in the world, no matter where they’re from or what they look like.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Marvel could not resist launching their comic counterpart issue to complement the airing of their biggest and newest show. But hey, Sam and Bucky shenanigans in the comics are just as welcome as they are on the big screen.
In this new series, written by Derek Landy, Sam and Bucky are dragged out of their daily lives to deal with some corrupt government officials who are on their tail.
After some of these officials try to assassinate Bucky, and his fluffy white cat Alpine at his home in Indiana, Sam and Bucky must team up to deal with yet another emerging head of HYRDA whose leader remains yet unknown to us.
You can’t have government conspiracies without one of the Captain America squad members sticking their nose in to uncover it, and Sam and Bucky are arguably the most qualified and definitely the funniest.
The Winter Soldier: The Longest Winter
Ah, Bucky, he just can’t ever get a break, can he? But no matter what the sidekick-turned-assassin is up to, at least it’s always pretty entertaining for the readers. In this comic, he fights a bear in a Russian prison, which honestly why hasn’t anyone put on screen yet?
“The Winter Soldier: The Longest Winter” is Bucky’s first run of solo comics, just for himself headed yet again by his creator Ed Brubaker, and boy does he hold nothing back.
Taking place after Bucky’s stint as Captain America, where he’s stripped of his title and set to a Russian gulag to pay for the crimes he committed while he was brainwashed, Bucky has to find his way out of this Siberian frozen hellscape.
He’s accompanied by his long-time flame, Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, who breaks him out of the prison to track down some Russian sleeper agents who lead the pair to the iconic and cryptic Dr. Doom in Latveria.
It’s a great spy story, very much hinged on the politics and trauma that continue to plague Eastern Europe and a must-read for any Bucky fan.
No doubt many of us miss the Sam and Bucky friendship that we’ve become so familiar with on-screen, but you can tide yourself over with comics until they return to the MCU in movie or TV format.
Their adventures are not just limited to the comics suggested here and pop up all around the Marvel comic universe in the stories of many different superheroes and villains. No matter where they go, they’re causing trouble and making laughs, a much-needed presence.
Do you have a favorite Sam or Bucky comic? Be sure to comment, like, and share!
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