Unlike many Marvel characters, Bucky’s history is incredibly short, though he was created along side Captain America in 1941. Many comic fans for years only knew him as Cap’s partner in WWII, dying at the moment Cap was thrown in the ocean. Since then the character has become a holy grail of sorts, untouchable. It wasn’t until writer Ed Brubaker took over Captain America that everything changed. Bucky was back.
James “Bucky” Barnes was perpetually Steve Rogers friend. Though only 15 years old, he took to the battle field fighting for his country in World War II. While Cap and Bucky had plenty of adventures, it was their final one that mattered the most. Baron Zemo had launched a rocket towards New York. The two jumped on, hoping to stop it. They managed to make the rocket prematurely explode over the Atlantic. Only, Bucky’s sleeve was caught on the rocket. Cap fell, watching has the rocket killed his friend.
Years later the Avengers found Cap, and many superheroics ensued. In 2005, Brubaker started a story line that took nearly a decade to tell. Cap eventually ran into an terrorist operative known as the Winder Soldier. After killing thousands to charge the Cosmic Cube, he kidnaps Cap’s lover, Sharon Carter. Eventually, Cap rescues her and confronts the Winter Soldier, recognizing him on the spot as Bucky. Cap orders him to remember who he was. With the cube in hand, he does. After the explosion in WWII, Bucky was picked up by a Russian sub. He was badly injured, including missing his left arm. Scientist gave him a bionic arm, and put him cryogenic sleep. He became an assassin for the Russians, only brought out when needed. As such, he only aged a few years.
Bucky remained a shadow operative for a bit, working with Cap, until Cap’s death at the end of Civil War. In short order, Bucky becomes the next Captain America, as per Steve’s wishes. Though he wielded the shield, Bucky also carried a sidearm. After all, he wasn’t a super soldier. Bucky continued to act as Captain America for a while, fighting alongside the Avengers in Secret Invasion. It was eventually revealed that Steve wasn’t actually dead, just stuck in a time loop or something. After some crazy hoopla that I didn’t really understand he came back to life. Rather than take the shield back from Bucky, he became director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony Stark created a shield made out of light for him to us. Readers took to calling him Captain Steve.
After the Siege story line, Bucky was put on trail for the crimes he committed as the Winter Soldier. Though he was found not guilty, it was decided that he could not longer be Captain America. Bucky faked his death during Fear Itself, going back to the shadows as the Winter Soldier. Only Black Widow, Nick Fury, and Steve know he’s still alive.
Retcons are typically ways for publishers to fix “mistakes.” Occasionally, they’re incredibly smart, mining from past stories to tell a brilliant one today. The Winter Soldier is easily the latter. Ed Brubaker told a fantastic story that redefined Cap for years. So popular in fact, I hear they’re making a movie about it.
Did you read Brubaker’s run? Smart way to bring a character back? Comment below!
Easiest bio I’ve written yet.