Real Name: James “Bucky” Buchannan Barnes
First Appearance (As Bucky): Captain America #1 (March, 1941)
First Appearance (As Winter Soldier): Captain America Vol. 5, #1 (January, 2005)
Powers: Acrobat, Highly skilled in Armed and Unarmed Combat, Accurate Marksman, Fluent in Four Languages. Left Arm is a Cybernetic Prosthetic with Superhuman Strength and Enhanced Reaction. Can Mentally Control Arm. Discharges Electricity and an AMP to Make Electronics Useless.
Affiliation: Avengers, Liberty Legion, Invaders
Enemies: The Entire World
Love Interests: Black Widow
Did You Know? Stan Lee has gone on record stating that he hates boy sidekicks. Bucky was named after the star of a high school basketball team (Bucky Pierson).
A Little History
Before you read this article that worships The Winter Soldier, let it be known that The Winter Soldier/Bucky/James Barnes/Captain America is by far my favorite character in the Marvel Universe.
Admittedly, growing up I always hated Bucky and it wasn’t until his backstory was retconned (redone) by Ed Brubaker that my love for the character flourished.
James Barnes was created by Joe Simon as a young sidekick to Captain America way back in 1941.
My initial hatred of Bucky began as soon as I learned that the only reason he became the sidekick to Captain America was because he was a Peeping Tom.
Now, let me ask you a question:
If you caught someone watching you change, what would you so?
Steve Rogers felt it in his best interested to take the boy under his wing and train him to be an elite fighter.
To Steve’s surprise, Bucky proved to be a valuable asset, both to the military and to him and became the best pure fighter they had ever seen. This led to his joining of the super group, (not Mr. Big) the Invaders.
I believe that most of the population knows that Captain America returns in Avengers #4, right? It is around this time that Steve learns that Bucky won’t be joining him. In fact, the story by Ed Brubaker shows that Bucky died tragically in a plane explosion while on a mission to stop Baron Zemo.
Bucky’s death has been used to explain why there are no more teenage sidekicks in the comics…
…and I hope you are ready to be mind-blown…
And I quote, “No responsible hero wants to endanger a minor…”
So with this, the loser version of Bucky dies and…
Bucky becomes awesome.
Bucky becomes an ass-kicker.
Bucky becomes cool to like.
No longer was Bucky the loser sidekick to Captain America.
No longer was Bucky to play second fiddle.
No longer was Bucky destined to live in Steve’s shadow.
Bucky was utilized as a military cover up and trained and told to do the things that Captain America would not do during the war, such as assassinations.
After the plane explosion, a nearby Russian Military ship found him in the waters, flash frozen, still alive and missing an arm. As luck would have it, when they brought him to life, Bucky awoke without any memory of whom he was, could speak multiple languages and had retained all his fighting abilities.
The Russians would fit him with a Cybernetic Arm, be reprogrammed as the Winter Soldier and sent to carry out said assassinations for the enemies of the Cold War.
Still with me?
With this information in hand, Steve began his search for Bucky.
This, of course, sent Bucky into a tailspin, as he now was able to remember exactly what he had done as the Winter Soldier.
What about Civil War?
During the events of Civil War, he and Nick Fury create a plan to rescue and free their captured friends.
Unfortunately, this does not happen and shortly after his surrender, Steve Rogers is killed.
This chain of events results in Bucky becoming the next Captain America (and one of the best ones).
Eventually, like all comic stories, Steve comes back from death, takes on the mantle of Captain America again and Bucky goes back to doing what he does best…kicking some ass.
- Sidekick to Captain America
- Becomes sidekick after seeing Steve change
- Trained to carry out jobs Captain America could not do
- Falls off exploding plane and lands in the ocean
- Russians find him, replace his missing arm, reprogram him and make him their assassin
- Kidnaps Sharon Carter
- Sharon tells Steve that he looks like Bucky
- Steve replaces Bucky’s memories
- Steve dies
- Bucky becomes Captain America
- Captain America comes back and Bucky goes back to kicking ass