Comic Book Questions Answered - where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at email@example.com). Here is a link to an archive of all the past questions that have been answered so far.
Today we look at a question from reader Randy:
I'm hoping you can answer something that has bothered me for decades. In the original Captain America series from the 40s Bucky was Cap's sidekick and, as a civilian the company mascot. My question is Did Bucky have a secret identity? Steve went to great lengths to hide his alter ego but Bucky was always "Bucky." It was written (at least in the few I've read) that no one knew Bucky was Bucky. What was Stan (or, really Joe and Jack) thinking? Or are we just supposed to ignore that fact? Thank you!!
Read on for the surprising answer!
James "Bucky" Barnes became Captain America's partner in crime-fighting very early on in Captain America Comics #1 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
Okay, so here's the thing. Simon and Kirby had two WILDLY different standards for Bucky's secret identity early on. Generally speaking, people just didn't put two and two together and figure out that the Bucky who was the company mascot was also the Bucky who was fighting bad guys with Captain America. And yet, the BAD GUYS would often figure that out!
From Captain America #1...
So they clearly knew Bucky was, well, Bucky. And, of course, that Steve Rogers was Captain America, since they left the note for Captain America in Rogers' quarters.
But then later in that same story...
Captain America Comics #2 reiterated that the Army didn't know who Cap was...
But then later that issue, once again a bad guy kidnaps Bucky knowing that it would bring Captain America to them.
Note that not only do they not know that Bucky is Bucky, but they don't even recognize the NAME Bucky, despite it being the famous partner of Captain America!
Things got even sillier after the war, when Bucky and Steve Rogers move in together (and share a bedroom) and Bucky attends Steve's class as Steve becomes a teacher.
Bucky enters a boxing contest, and people are shocked when Captain America shows up as Bucky's second in the ring...
In Captain America Comics #66, the famous issue where Bucky is shot and Cap gets a new partner, Golden Girl, we see Cap explicitly point out that both of their identities are secret...
So there you go, Randy, they were working on the impression that Bucky did have a secret identity.
If anyone else has a question about comics that they'd like to see answered, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!