Published September 5, 2019

Rikki Barnes Is the Most Influential Marvel Character You’ve Never Heard Of

Get a refresher on the hero making her return in this week's 'Future Foundation' #2!

Rikki Barnes isn't your average legacy hero.

Future Foundation
FUTURE FOUNDATION #2 interiors by Will Robson, Paco Diaz, Daniele Orlandini, Greg Menzie, Chris O'Halloran, and VC's Joe Caramagna

Sure, she's sported a couple of different names associated with other heroes—Bucky and Nomad—but her circumstances are pretty unique in Marvel history. When most of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four sacrificed themselves to stop Onslaught during his initial rampage back in the mid-90s, they were presumed dead. However, thanks to the wildly powerful Franklin Richards, the heroes wound up in a pocket dimension contained in a blue ball that he simply carried around!

And that's where Rikki made her debut! After stumbling into the hero game, she used her natural abilities and well-honed dancing skills to prove herself worthy of the name Bucky to that dimension's Captain America. Then she crossed over to Earth-616 and became a member of the Young Allies—and now a member of the FUTURE FOUNDATION, as seen in issue #2 by Jeremy Whitley, Will Robson, and Paco Diaz!

Future Foundation (2019-) #2
FUTURE FOUNDATION #2 cover by Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, and Matt Yackey

So, as we head toward a fantastic new future alongside Rikki, we decided to piece together a roadmap of how she got here.

Heroes Reborn

Rikki debuted in the pages of HEROES REBORN (1996) #1-2 which teased her future as Bucky, but the real story came in the 12 issues of CAPTAIN AMERICA running from 1996-1997.

Captain America (1996) #1

Captain America (1996) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

While a guy named Steve Rogers wrestled with the fact that he might secretly be Captain America, Rikki Barnes worried about her brother John who had fallen in with a local hate group led by Red Skull. The pair eventually began working together off and on, and Barnes was even present when the heroes gathered to stop Galactus. When she went after Silver Surfer, the Devourer of Worlds zapped her with his beams. Seeing this young woman harmed led the Herald to rebel against his master and banish him with equipment and weapons provided by the Earthlings.

Heroes Return

Barnes survived her confrontation with cosmic forces and returned to the hero life, but the Heroes Reborn experiment came to an end in 1997 with a series called HEROES REBORN: THE RETURN (1997).

Eventually, Franklin Richards realized that the sphere he'd been carrying actually contained the entire reality! Thanks to some dimension-hopping and Celestial intervention, the versions of heroes that Franklin shunted over to this reality had to leave, but that meant that Rikki had to stay behind, which understandably devastated her.

Filling the Void

With most of the heroes gone and Doctor Doom taking over the planet, Bucky banded together with some other youthful heroes to form the Young Allies in HEROES REBORN: YOUNG ALLIES (2000). And they had their work cut out for them trying to upend Doom's control while also dealing with a never-ending stream of cataclysmic events ranging from invasions to natural disasters.

Eventually, the whole planet popped out of its pocket dimension and ended up in opposite orbit around the sun, becoming Counter-Earth. Readers got a glimpse Barnes' exploits in THUNDERBOLTS (1997) as well as EXILES (2001) #81-82—and it was truly a difficult existence. (We also saw a “Sergeant Becky Barnes” in the 2018 EXILES series, fighting as a companion to another world’s Captain America, AKA Peggy Carter.)

Exiles (2001) #81

Exiles (2001) #81

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Bucky Reborn

A seemingly different version of Rikki Barnes debuted in 2006's ONSLAUGHT REBORN. In this post-"No More Mutants" tale, all of the lost mutant energy brought Onslaught back…and the entity wanted Franklin Richards' power.

To escape, the boy pulled out a green ball that contained another version of the universe he created, this one where the heroes never left. After transporting himself inside—followed by Onslaught—Franklin met Bucky, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. During the final battle with the creature, Rikki smashed him with a Fantasti-Car into the Negative Zone, sacrificing her life in the process. Or so we all thought...

Onslaught Reborn (2006) #1

Onslaught Reborn (2006) #1

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Instead, she landed on Earth-616 just after Captain America died in the wake of the first Super Hero CIVIL WAR!

Girl Without a World

Orphaned on a different Earth, Rikki needed to blaze a new trail for herself, but also wanted to meet the new Captain America.

First, she sought out Patriot in CAPTAIN AMERICA (2004) #600 and starred in NOMAD: GIRL WITHOUT A WORLD (2009). She then forged a “Rikki Baines” identity to get close to this world's version of her brother in New York City. During this time, she ran into Black Widow, Falcon, Flagsmasher, Mad Dog, and the Secret Empire's Professor Power—all while dealing with high school drama and the new Nomad identity that was secretly gifted her by the Widow.

Though the series ended with a high school riot caused by Professor Power that led to John's death, Rikki did ultimately meet Captain America, who gave her the words of encouragement she needed to keep going.

Teaming Up

From there, Nomad earned a back-up feature that ran in CAPTAIN AMERICA (2004) #602-615. In those stories, she met Arana, got into further trouble with the Secret Empire and even reunited with Steve Rogers. Around this same time, Rikki formed a new team with Arana, Firestar, Gravity, and Toro, leading into the six-issue limited series YOUNG ALLIES (2010). Together, they fought the Bastards of Evil, a group made up of Super Villain offspring who nearly destroyed Manhattan.

Captain America (2004) #602

Captain America (2004) #602

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These adventures not only kept Barnes busy, but also helped her build a support network in this not-so-strange new world she found herself in.

Nomad Unleashed

Rikki experienced a reunion she would rather have avoided during the ONSLAUGHT UNLEASHED (2010) limited series, which brought the Young Allies together with Rogers' Secret Avengers.

Onslaught Unleashed (2010) #1

Onslaught Unleashed (2010) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In the tale, Roxxon began siphoning energy from the Negative Zone, which allowed Onslaught to come back through and possess Nomad. He even claimed that the real Barnes had died when they both initially entered the Negative Zone, that he'd consumed her and sent her through to Earth-616 as a kind of lifeline in order to eventually find his own way back. Nomad embraced this truth and used it to help her fellow heroes stop Onslaught's rampage, which resulted in Gravity atomizing her. However, it seemed as though she could still communicate with Rogers, though only briefly…

Back In Action

And that was the end of things for Rikki Barnes until FUTURE FOUNDATION!

The new series finds the members of the super think tank—mostly kids—traveling the Multiverse collecting pieces of their friend Molecule Man. The series began with Julie Power breaking into the privately owned prison on L'Ar Gath where she tracked a young woman initially referring to herself as Rebecca because their detectors told them she held a piece of Molecule Man's energy. When Julie activated the breakout plan, Rebecca grabbed her gear and revealed that she was Rikki Barnes in ish #2. But which Rikki is she? And what happened to the original?

Read FUTURE FOUNDATION at your local comic shop to find out exactly how the Girl Without A Universe made it into the furthest reaches of our own!