Winter Soldier: the second life of Bucky Barnes

Winter Soldier: the second life of Bucky Barnes

Winter Soldier

With the arrival of the TV series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we will follow the adventures of Sam Wilson (aka Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier). We have previewed the first episode here you find our review.

One thing that Marvel comics (but, more generally, all superhero comics) have gotten us used to over the years is that the thing more definitive than our world, death, in the world of paper heroes, is almost never definitive. Whether it's Superman who resurrects after the tough fight with Doomsday or the Goblin who returns after thirty years of absence and reveals himself as the criminal mastermind behind Spider-Man's worst woes, the gates of superheroes to the afterlife have always been doors. But there has always been an unwritten rule between industry insiders and fans: they can all return from the dead except Uncle Ben, the second Robin (Jason Todd) and Bucky Barnes, the young ally of Captain America during the Second World War. This sacred rule was broken twice in 2005. From DC, which brings Jason Todd back to life with the new identity of Red Hood, and from Marvel, which recovers the cheerful boy that was Bucky and makes him the lethal Winter Soldier, the Winter Soldier that we will see collaborating with Falcon in The Falcon & The Winter Soldier on Disney +

Bucky: the origins

But let's take a step back and go back to the 40s, when Marvel as we know it didn't exist yet and Stan Lee he was just a kid who was an assistant for what was then Timely Comics, the publishing house of his older cousin, Martin Goodman. While not yet the House of Ideas that we all love, the magic was already about to happen, thanks to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, with the creation of a superhero ready to go to war to help the soldiers on the front and who did not mind. to punch Hitler: Captain America.

Since the first appearance of the stars and stripes hero there is a young man to accompany him, armed only with a mask and the typical boyish impetuosity: Bucky. We initially know little about the character. After accidentally discovering the secret identity of Corporal Steve Rogers, young camp mascot James Buchanan Barnes joins the hero with Bucky's secret identity, America's brazen answer to Hitler-Jugend, the Hitler youth. . Along with other heroes such as the original Human Torch, his young sidekick Taurus and Namor the Sub-Mariner, he would be part of the Invaders and the Young Allies.

In Ed Brubaker's recent rewrite of the character's story (the one who resurrected him as Winter Soldier) we discover that little James was a military brat, or a son of parents on permanent service in the army or officers. When his father dies leaving him and his sister Becca orphans, the latter is sent to boarding school while he is unofficially adopted by Camp Leigh, the camp where his father served and where he himself had spent most of his childhood.

Although not a soldier, James grows up following military discipline… in his own way. His was a rebellious spirit, which made him sneak out of the field to get the soldiers cigars and posters of procacious actresses and which often led him to settle accounts with a fist fight. Unable to tame the young man, the superiors decide to channel his energies into something useful. He is in fact sent to the United Kingdom to undergo a grueling training with the SAS in order to have tactical and combat skills superior to a simple soldier. Skills needed to be assigned as a Captain America sidekick. However, if the official version (as well as that of the "classic" Marvel) was of a young mascot who fought happily alongside Cap, the real one proposed by Brubaker Bucky is a sixteen-year-old assassin trained to do all the "dirty work" that the Captain , wearing the flag, he could never have done.

Captain America's Sting of Conscience

Fast forward to the 1960s, in the height of the Marvel era. In The Avengers # 4, the Avengers thanks to Namor recover a frozen body from the icy seas of the Arctic. The astonishment is so much in discovering that not only is the man alive despite having been hibernated for who knows how many years, but that the man is wearing Captain America's costume and shield under a tattered uniform. Awakened and recovered from the shock, the hero of the Second World War tells his rescuers his fate and his shoulder.

In an attempt to stop an explosive drone directed by Baron Zemo towards civilian targets, the two heroes us they rushed over in an attempt to defuse it. Bucky managed to blow it up in the air and saved the day, but at great cost. The blast sent Steve flying into the ocean where he remained under ice to this day and killed young Barnes. The death of the young ally would henceforth be the goad of Cap's conscience, his greatest failure and his greatest sin to atone.

Too bad…

They killed Bucky, Bucky is alive!

As we found out in 2005's The Winter Soldier saga, Bucky didn't really die in the blast. He is found shortly after the explosion by a Russian submarine (in search of the Captain's corpse from which to recover traces of the super soldier's serum) without memory and without his left arm. Equipped by the Soviets with a powerful bionic arm and subjected to brainwashing, Bucky becomes the Winter Soldier, an expert killer considered by many to be a real urban legend, to be programmed and used in the event of political attacks or military operations particularly difficult to then freeze it and "reset it" at the end of the mission.

We discover that in his past he was one of the many teachers that the very young Natasha Romanoff had inside the Red Room who transformed her into the Black Widow and that, among his victims, there is also Itsu, Wolverine's Japanese wife who had shortly before given birth to the one who would become Daken. For Cap, the shock of finding himself in front of the young companion of a thousand adventures transformed into a murderer in the pay of Alexander Lukin (the one who commissioned the murder of the Red Skull, only to be later possessed) is so much, but he manages to disarm the former friend and, with the help of the Cosmic Cube, to remind him of his previous life. Bucky is shaken by the rediscovery of himself and escapes, not before having shattered the powerful artifact. After an attempt at revenge against Lukin / Red Skull and after settling his differences with Namor and Wolverine, Barnes returns to fight alongside Steve, albeit briefly.

The new Captain America

At the end of the Civil War which will see all the heroes opposed, divided between the faction of Iron Man and Cap, the latter, who surrendered to the authorities for the damage caused by his actions to the community, will be assassinated on the stairs of the Palace of Justice from a shared effort of various enemies (led by the ubiquitous Red Skull). Bucky's anger is a lot, both towards the Nazi and Stark, guilty of making his ally the villain of the situation and an easy target for real criminals. After a (unsuccessful) attempt at revenge and the taking into custiodia by S.H.I.E.L.D. , Bucky finds himself fighting the Avenger in armor (at the time director of the secret agent agency), but the latter, to satisfy Cap's last wishes, not only gives Barnes the shield, but prepares him a special to be able to continue Steve's legacy and becoming the new Captain America.

Unlike the classic Captain America, Bucky acts in a much more resolute and unscrupulous way, not disdaining to alternate the shield with more conventional weapons such as knives and guns . Despite this and despite the distrust he arouses in allies such as the Falcon and Hawkeye, the hero continues the battle begun by his master against terrorism and Hydra, also becoming part of the New Avengers.

But as we said at the beginning, death, in comics, is almost never definitive and after a few years from his death, Steve Rogers also returns to the realm of the living, abandoned by the Red Skull in the meanders of the space time. Unlike what everyone expected, including Barnes, Rogers will not immediately resume the role of Captain America, preferring to remain in the role of commander of S.H.I.E.L.D. and all the various Avengers squads and leaving the shield and costume to Bucky.

Winter Soldier Strikes Again!

Bucky will play the role of Captain America alone up to Fear Itself, the maxi-saga that will see all Marvel heroes join Thor to defeat the evil Serpent (the god of fear brother of Odin) and his various emissaries. During the battle with Sin (the daughter of the Red Skull who became the evil deity Skadi) Bucky loses his life, forcing Steve to become Captain America again. This time too, however, ours was saved and, thanks to the Infinity Formula that keeps Nick Fury fit and young, he manages to heal from his wounds and, unbeknownst to everyone except Fury, Cap and Nat, he returns to act in secret as the Winter Soldier. Later he will inherit from Fury the role of "Man on the wall", the last vanguard of the Earth from space threats and will also be part of the group of reformed villains Thunderbolts, but in any role and whatever group he is part of, Bucky will always remain a very important figure for Captain America and for the entire community of heroes.

Do you want to recover Bucky's origins and his first appearance as Winter Soldier? We recommend the volume of the Marvel-verse series

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