We are very nearly nearing the 80th anniversary of the comic book debut of Captain America's beloved sidekick, Bucky Barnes. The character started off as a character who, despite having an endearing presence and a scrappy wit, wasn't all that special in the grand scheme of things. Sure, he was a fine character, but there wasn't too much about Bucky that separated him from or made him stand out next to other boy partners of his era, like Robin for example. That would change in the coming years and in due time, Bucky would evolve into quite the character of his time.
Following the character's unceremonious exit and death from the original run of Captain America comic books, Bucky would make his shocking return to Marvel in the mid-'00s, but not as a hero. He would return as a brainwashed adversary to Captain America. Eventually, Bucky would not only come back to his senses, but he would don the Captain America mantle for himself. This character has a long and storied history that is slowly transitioning into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So much has happened to this character in the past, that many casual fans may not be aware of his entire history yet. From one true fan to another, here are some fun facts to get readers all caught up on The Winter Soldier.
15 BRAINWASHED BEFORE
Well, almost brainwashed we should say. Back in 1942, when Captain America led his own team of superheroes called The Invaders -- comprised of himself, The Human Torch, Toro, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and Bucky -- were all captured and brainwashed by The Red Skull. Bucky was the only one who managed to escape.
Knowing that he couldn't have tackled a brainwashed Invaders team by himself, he gathered all of the available superheroes he could find for help.
This would include The Patriot, The Thin Man, The Whizzer, Miss America, Red Raven, The Blue Diamond, and Jack Frost. Together, they formed Liberty Legion and thrawted The Red Skull's evil plot, while simultaneously saving The Invaders. Years later, another attempt to brainwash Bucky was made and this time it worked, turning him into The Winter Soldier.
14 HE BROKE THE COSMIC CUBE
The Cosmic Cube lies at the center of the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- there referred to as The Tesseract -- as one of the most powerful objects in the film universe and continues to play a major role in storylines. In the comic books, Captain America vol. 5 , #14 to be exact, Bucky broke it. At that time, Bucky was well into his brainwashed role as The Winter Soldier.
Discovering his old friend to be alive, Steve Rogers hoped that there was still a small fragment of Bucky that remained dormant in The Winter Soldier's head. So Steve tracked him down and uses the Cosmic Cube to restore Bucky's memory. It worked, but Bucky suddenly becomes wracked with guilt as he remembers all the horrible things he'd done as The Winter Soldier. He shattered the Cube into pieces, and then stormed off.
13 BATMAN'S SIDEKICK
It is rare that Marvel and DC Comics clash their brands together and even rarer for characters from both brands to work together, seeing as history tells us that usually guys from DC and Marvel would rather butt heads than co-exist. One of those rare cases of a DC property teaming up with a Marvel property happened in 1996 for the one shot crossover Batman/Captain America.
In this alternate Elseworlds reality during World War II, Batman and his trusty sidekick Robin cross paths with Captain America and his own underling, Bucky.
Just for the heck of it, the two big shot superheroes decide to trade sidekicks for the day. Robin teams up with Cap, and Batsy teams up with Bucky. Inexplicably, Bucky dies off-page later on.
12 HIS SON GROWS UP TO BECOME RED SKULL
Not much is known about Bucky's future as far as settling down, but in the alternate Earth-1610 Ultimate Universe, there are some drastic changes. In this reality, Bucky never goes rogue and becomes Red Skull. Instead, he becomes an old man -- who long believed Steve Rogers died during the war -- who is suffering from lung cancer and is living the married life with Gail.
Prior to Steve's death, he knocked up Gail, but the government decided it would be best for the world to not know that Steve had a child, so they forced her to put her son in foster care at a military base. This unnamed son, believing he could never live up to the expectations of his father, decides instead to become a villain. He becomes The Red Skull, but eventually gets killed by The Red Wasp.
11 HIS PAST WITH WOLVERINE
One thing about comic book Marvel history that goes overlooked -- or, rather largely unknown -- by readers is that Bucky has a long and storied history with none other than the poster boy of Marvel himself, Wolverine. It all started when Wolverine first escaped from the Weapon X facility.
Without knowing it, Bucky as The Winter Soldier helped him out in an issue of Wolverine.
Also unknown to Wolverine was the fact that The Winter Soldier also killed his wife, Itsu. Had Daken -- Wolverine's then unborn son -- not clawed himself out of his mother's womb, Wolverine's son would have died that day as well. Wolverine eventually did find this news out years after the fact, and needless to say, he wasn't too pleased, and a battle between the two raged on.
10 HIS GUNS ARE SPECIAL TO HIM
Ever since he was reintroduced to comic book readers as The Winter Soldier, Bucky has been portrayed as a heavily skilled marksman. We have seen Bucky exercise his impressive hands whenever he wields a handgun, a machine gun, a grenade, or other firearm imaginable. While he has spent years been trained to use any gun or weapon to its full potential, it also helps that Bucky happens to own guns that have been made specifically for him and him alone. Literally.
His pistols have explosive palm print sensors. This would mean that if anybody else would ever try to use any of Bucky's guns, these guns would explode immediately after the guns detect that none of these fingerprints belong to Bucky. That's one interesting way for Bucky to keep his guns exclusive to him.
9 THE BUCKY CLAUSE
Death is rarely taken seriously in comic books because no matter how big the spectacle or promotion of a character's death winds up being publicized in the media (i.e. "The Death of Superman"), those characters are always expected to be brought back to life somewhere down the line. Granted, there have been some exceptions, albeit minor ones.
There used to be one golden rule in comic book lore called "The Bucky Clause" that promised that no one in comic books stay dead for long.
Well, unless they happen to be Bucky Barnes, Jason Todd, or Uncle Ben. Ironically enough, both Jason Todd and Bucky Barnes were brought back to life in 2006. Even more ironically, they came back as gun toting assassins. Guess Uncle Ben's next. Expect Ben to come back from the dead with a gun in his hand.
8 THE NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA
In the wake of the "Civil War" storyline, Steve Rogers was assassinated by Crossbones and a brainwashed Sharon Carter on orders from The Red Skull. Bucky was furious, and blamed Tony Stark for Steve's death after he started the Civil War to begin with. He was even angrier when he came to the conclusion that Tony, as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. was overseeing auditions to appoint someone as the new Captain America.
In his rage, Bucky went as far as to steal Cap's shield to guarantee there would be no new Captain America anytime soon. In due time, Tony notified Bucky of a letter he received from Steve that if he died, Tony should take care of Bucky and make sure the Captain America lineage continues. In secret, Tony appoints Bucky as the new Captain America.
7 WHY HE STOPS BEING CAPTAIN AMERICA
In the aftermath of the "Siege" storyline, things are going good for Bucky as the new Captain America. He's earned the public's approval, and even joined the Avengers. Things take a drastic turn when he is put on trial for the crimes that he committed as The Winter Soldier. He is found not guilty by an American court, but he is then taken away by the Russian courts and charged with crimes against the state, going rogue, and killing two civilians.
Bucky is found guilty by the Russian courts and sent to prison.
After learning those two civilians were connected to Russia's Red Room division, Black Widow busts him out of jail and brings him back to America. However, fearing he was too tainted by recent events, he stops being Captain America.
6 THE INFINITY FORMULA
After dropping the Captain America identity following his trials, Bucky decides to take up the mantle of Captain America again during the "Fear Itself" storyline. It is here where he has a life altering encounter with Sinthea "Sin" Schmidt, better known as Skadi and the daughter of the Red Skull. In this encounter, she kills Bucky, but he is later brought back to life after being injected with a dose of the Infinity Formula, an experimental drug created by S.H.I.E.L.D. to slow the aging process.
In the time between his apparent death and resurrection, Bucky was believed to have been dead by the rest of the world. Taking advantage of the low profile, he returns to his Winter Soldier alias to commit to low level jobs from S.H.I.E.L.D. behind the scenes.
5 GUARDIAN OF THE EARTH
During the "Original Sin" storyline, Bucky was tasked with investigating the death of Uatu the Watcher. He was sent to space with Gamora and Moon Knight to further investigate. That's where the trio are forced to witness their deepest darkest secrets thanks to The Orb.
Following this ordeal, Bucky returns to Earth demanding "no more secrets" from Nick Fury.
So Fury reveals he was secretly appointed as a guardian of the earth that had been protecting the earth from alien threats using more brutal methods than The Avengers would ever be game for doing. As it turns out, he killed Uatu in self defense after Uatu refused to break his own oath to tell Fury the identity of his attacker. Now, Fury takes Uatu's place as The Watcher and Bucky took Fury's place as The Man on the Wall.
4 NOT THE ONLY ONE
Few fans know this, but Bucky wasn't just the name of a James Buchanan Barnes, but it was also a pseudonym passed down to different people in the same way as someone like Robin. The first replacement came in the form of Fred Davis, when he and William Naslund were appointed as the new Captain America and Bucky by President Truman after the originals died.
Then, Jack Monroe took up the mantle when his history teacher -- who became so obsessed with Steve Rogers that he got plastic surgery to look like him and changed his name -- became the new Captain America. Rick Jones briefly took up the role, as did Rick Jones. Rikki Barnes is a female Bucky from an alternate universe. Finally, Julia Winters was also Bucky.
3 THE ORIGIN OF HIS NAME
Bucky was created by Joe Simon when he first created his initial sketch of Captain America back in 1940. In said sketch, Simon included a sidekick for Cap, which he named Bucky. Some may wonder why he named him Bucky of all things. After all, when some of us hear a name like Bucky, they may be taken in thought to an image of a buck toothed beaver, and Bucky does not exhibit any beaver qualities to speak of.
According to Simon himself, Bucky was named after a star basketball player and childhood pal of Simon's from his high school days.
"The boy companion was simply named Bucky," Simon said in his autobiography The Comic Book Makers, "after my friend Bucky Pierson, a star on our high school basketball team."
2 WHAT STAN LEE THINKS OF HIM
Stan Lee has always been very vocal about his displeasure and disapproval of sidekicks. Particularly, he hated the idea of the young teenage sidekick, as he thought it to be irresponsible for a supposed hero to intentionally endanger the life of a child by allowing them to accompany the hero on dangerous missions.
"One of my many pet peeves has always been the young teenage sidekick of the average hero," Stan Lee was once quoted as saying in a 1997 reissue of Origins of Marvel Comics. Stan Lee's hate for sidekicks is what many believe to be the reason behind Bucky's abrupt end and expulsion from the Marvel Universe. Meanwhile, his co-creator at Marvel, Jack Kirby, has no problem with sidekicks and said in 1990 he wouldn't mind bringing Bucky back.
1 WHY HE CAME BACK
When Bucky first disappeared from Marvel Comics, he wasn't so much as killed off as he was phased out of Marvel canon without a single mention of him again. As a big fan of Bucky while reading the sidekick's adventures with Captain America as a child, Ed Brubaker thought Marvel had done a great disrespect to Bucky. When he found out that Bucky's death had been dedicated to only one page in Avengers #4, Brubaker was devastated.
In his own sort of fan fiction, the young boy wrote in his sketch book that Bucky had been captured by Soviets.
Fast forward to the '00s. Now that Brubaker is a full grown adult and writer for Marvel, he decides to give Bucky the satisfying conclusion he believes the character deserves by bringing his childhood ideas to the panels of Marvel.