Published December 7, 2018

When Bucky Barnes Became Captain America

Mark this week's Winter Soldier #1 with a look at Bucky Barnes' journey from villain to hero!

Every Friday, we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the most notable appearances of a character that made waves this week.

It might be December, but it's time for Winter Soldier to come out of the cold.

This week, Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis launched the five issue WINTER SOLDIER limited series by setting our hero on the path to help others in hopes of making amends for his past deeds. The story will come to focus on Bucky's relationship with a young Hydra assassin named RJ that the organization sends to off him. Meeting this young domino mask-wearing kid will surely remind Barnes of his own past.

Winter Soldier #1 cover by Rod Reis

Bucky debuted way, way back in 1941's CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1, where he stumbled upon Steve Rogers' identity as the patriotic hero. The duo fought together as the original series outlived the war by years. When Cap returned to the Marvel Universe in AVENGERS #4 in 1964, the shield-slinger remembered his partner being blown up during the event that led to his own suspended animation.

Everyone assumed that to be the truth until Ed Brubaker brought the character back as the Winter Soldier with the launch of the 2004 CAPTAIN AMERICA series. As the story progressed, we learned that the Russians found Bucky floating in the water, brainwashed him, gave him a bionic arm, and used him to not only train Black Widows, but also assassinate targets.

Captain America (2004) #1

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When he started remembering bits and pieces of his old life, they decided to put him on ice and bring him out to go on specific missions. After the fall of the U.S.S.R., he wound up in an old weapons warehouse where Aleksander Lukin found him and put the living weapon to use while working for–and eventually becoming–Red Skull.

Captain America came to realize his adversary's true identity, even if the Soldier didn't seem to realize it himself. To help restore his oldest friend, Rogers used Red Skull's cracked Cosmic Cube to allow him to remember everything he'd done, good and bad.

That began Bucky's first modern day tour of the United States, but he soon found himself filling a much bigger role as the new Captain America when Steve Rogers apparently died by an assassin's bullet on his way to a trial for the crimes he committed during Civil War. With a new costume and the old shield, Bucky Cap did his best to carry on the mantle both as a solo hero and an Avenger until Steve returned in CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN.

Captain America: Reborn (2009) #1

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Steve took charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Bucky kept his role as Captain America until he's put on trial for his crimes as the Winter Soldier. After getting out of jail and back to the States, Barnes traveled around with Black Widow, who he had a relationship with in their younger days in the Red Room. However, when Nick Fury became the new Watcher in ORIGINAL SIN, the new WINTER SOLDIER series focused on Winter Soldier traveling the cosmos as the secret man on the wall preventing terrible things from happening.

Winter Soldier made his way back to Earth and less cosmic affairs during AVENGERS: STANDOFF, which apparently brought an aged Steve Rogers back to his youthful self, but actually created a copy faithful to Hydra and the Red Skull. Before that all came to light, Barnes led the team in THUNDERBOLTS, which included the mysterious Kobik, a living Cosmic Cube in the form of a young girl.

Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill (2016) #1

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During SECRET EMPIRE, when Hydra Cap and his nefarious allies took over the country, Barnes used his connection with Kobik to help restructure the Cosmic Cube in an effort to bring the one true Steve Rogers back to life, allowing the two Caps to face off against one another.

After the events of SECRET EMPIRE, which included Hydra Cap killing Black Widow with his shield, Bucky and Hawkeye both found themselves on the hunt for an assassin who they both assumed were Natasha as seen in TALES OF SUSPENSE #100-#104 by Matthew Rosenberg and Travel Foreman.

Since then, Winter Soldier has appeared in Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Francis Yu's CAPTAIN AMERICA as well as Rosenberg and Stefano Landini's PUNISHER, but now has the spotlight all to himself once again in his new limited series.

Read these stories on Marvel Unlimited, then visit your local comic shop to read WINTER SOLDIER #1!