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Characters / Marvel Comics: Bucky Barnes

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Bucky Barnes
As Bucky
As Winter Soldier
As Captain America

Alter Ego: James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes

Notable Aliases: Bucky, Winter Soldier, Captain America

First Appearance: Captain America Comics #1 (March, 1941) note ; Captain America #1 (January, 2005) note ; Captain America #34 (January, 2008) note 

"Who the hell is Bucky?"
The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Winter Soldier #8 (imported to Captain America: The Winter Soldier verbatim)

Excellent question!

James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes is a Marvel Comics character. He first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (March, 1941), created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Bucky was originally the camp mascot at the base where Steve Rogers, the first Captain America was stationed, and when he stumbled upon Steve changing out of the costume, Steve was forced to take him on as a sidekick. Bucky's wartime adventures would come to an end when he and Captain America tried to sabotage a drone bomb bound for the US. While Captain America survived and plunged into the icy waters of the Arctic to be discovered decades later by The Avengers, Bucky was thought dead when the drone bomb exploded with him on board. His death continued to haunt Captain America after the latter's revival in the present.

In 2004, Ed Brubaker started writing a new volume of Captain America, and the way the world saw Bucky was changed forever. While once viewed as a joke of a character, he was retconned to be a 17-year-old highly-trained commando assigned by the Army to be Captain America's sidekick to counter the Hitler Youth, but also to serve as a covert assassin, performing operations that Captain America himself could never be seen doing; what was initially believed to be his origin was simply a cover story cooked up by the Army press. Instead of dying due to the drone, he instead lost his left arm and a fair chunk of his memory. He survived submersion in the Atlantic Ocean only to be later picked up by a Russian submarine hoping to rescue Cap for the Allies. While he'd lost memories of his life experiences, he retained skills honed through instinct, including his combat training and several languages, and was thus molded into a Soviet assassin as sort of a sick joke by a humiliated Russian officer. As The Winter Soldier, he went on to become a legend of the Cold War, performing acts of terrorism and sabotage on US soil under Soviet orders.

Bucky eventually regained his memories, and has since spent his days trying to atone for his sins as the Winter Soldier; working for Nick Fury, and following Steve's death, serving as Captain America himself and as a member of The Avengers. After his death was faked by Nick Fury, he returned to his Winter Soldier role, trying to clean up any messes he left as the Winter Soldier while also protecting Earth in his own way. Sometimes this means he goes to space, other times leading other atoners, and other times still he helps whoever's Captain America at the time.

For a long time, it was fondly accepted among comic book fans that Bucky was one of the few comic book characters that actually stayed dead, along with Jason Todd and Uncle Ben. Since Jason also took a rain check on the Grim Reaper about the same time Bucky did, well...

Bucky Barnes appears in:

Comic Books


Marvel Cinematic Universe

Video Games

Western Animation

Over at DC Comics, compare and contrast Robin, particularly Nightwing/Grayson and Red Hood. Also cross reference Captain America, The Falcon, and Black Widow, for more information on Bucky in relation to his best friends and parent franchise.

Bucky Barnes provides examples of:

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  • '90s Anti-Hero: Subverted. Bucky had the look, some of the attitude, but was a good guy through and through.
  • Affirmative-Action Legacy:
    • Mark Gruenwald introduced an African-American Bucky to John Walker's Captain America named Lemar Hoskins, who quickly changed his name to Battlestar after learning that "Buck" used to be a derogatory term for black men.
    • The female Rikki Barnes from Heroes Reborn also used the Bucky identity before taking on the alias of Nomad.
    • The future Bucky seen in The Children's Crusade is a black teen named Steve Wilson-Bradley, the grandson of The Falcon.
    • Barnes himself is one to Steve when he temporarily takes over as Captain America, as he is missing an arm and uses a prosthetic.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Zig-Zagged with Bucky and Natasha. While he was born several years, if not a couple of decades, before her, he spent all but a total of ten out of sixty years in cryosleep, while she has been living them in her artificially induced ageless state. Subverts Mayfly–December Romance after Bucky got a dose of the Infinity formula to save his life.
  • Agents Dating: He and Black Widow become this in Bucky's new Winter Soldier ongoing. Offering a deeper look into their relationship, the book contrasts Bucky's guilt and self-doubt with Natasha's confidence and pragmatic demeanor.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played with. Women will once in a while express attraction to Bucky due to his reputation as the Winter Soldier, but he is decidedly not a bad boy.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: He began life as Marvel's version of Robin — specifically of Dick Grayson as the Kid Sidekick, but he was a Dead Sidekick by 1964, while Jason Todd didn't follow suit until 1988. Since then, this has become a Zig-Zagged Trope, with Bucky having parallel story beats to both Jason (comes back to life, fights mentor, becomes brooding bad boy rogue) and Dick (takes over mentor's mantle after his death, keeps mantle with his blessing when he comes back from the dead due to overwhelming fan support, returns it later anyway) at different points. Whether or not one is copying the other is a matter of debate, but Nightwing's cancellation in favor of Grayson, a series where Dick becomes a spy and is teamed up with a beautiful woman who has a spider web tattoo has been seen as DC's attempt to replicate the Bucky and Black Widow dynamic.
  • Amnesiac Resonance:
    • In the comics, this happened to him quite a bit in the 1960s and '70s. He would break his programming to the point that he knew his Soviet handlers were his enemies and run away, but he was never able to actually recover much memory of his identity. In Winter Soldier: The Bitter March, a combination of resonance (remembering Captain America teaching him to never shoot a man in the back) and a psychic opponent trying to break him causes him to break away from the Soviets and join up with S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Ran Shen, but all he can tell Shen is that his name is James - not enough for Shen to identify him as Captain America's sidekick who died 20 years before. Eventually, the Soviets recapture him and the final page is of another, stronger, torturous brainwashing. One of the reasons they started cold storing him (besides prolonging his natural lifespan) was to take away any time he could spend thinking for himself in an attempt to prevent this kind of thing from happening.
    • In the film, the Soldier experiences a series of flashbacks after Steve calls him "Bucky." Trying to parse this, he realizes that he knows Steve. Pierce tries to deflect by pointing out that they faced off against each other after he shot Fury, but Bucky remains steadfast and Pierce orders him to be wiped again. A passing remark from one of the techs indicates that being out of cryo for too long leads to this kind of resonance.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Gave his left arm trying to stop a bomb plane from launching during WWII.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: Bucky as Captain America subverts this, sort of. He's a Classic Anti Hero, so he doesn't carry the same connotations this trope usually does.
  • The Artifact: Bucky as Captain America's Kid Sidekick in World War II effectively made him a Child Soldier with the implied knowledge of the US Miilitary, which required increasing justification from the writers over the decades.
  • Artificial Limbs: The Soviets replaced the arm he lost in World War II with a cybernetic one. After he loses his Soviet one stopping the Red Skull's Sleeper, he gets a new arm from Nick Fury which has a lot of handy abilities, such as an EMP. It also allows him to handle and throw Captain America's shield properly, making him (alongside Hawkeye) one of the only two non-super soldier serum-embued people to be able to use it. The arm Fury provided also turned the red Soviet star into a white star surrounded by blue and red.
  • Ascended Fanboy:
    • Himself during his tenure as Captain America.
    • Jack Monroe during his time as Bucky's replacement.
  • The Atoner: What he decides to be after coming to terms with what he's done under Soviet brainwashing.
  • Back from the Dead: Did in fact die in that rocket explosion, but the ice cold water preserved him so that the submarine crew that found him could revive him as if he had just died. Exploited, as he was periodically frozen cryogenically by the Soviets, who kept bringing him back to assassinate particularly hard-to-kill enemies. He did it again after Fear Itself.
  • Badass Boast: When Clint Barton tried to justify killing Norman Osborn by pulling out the "If you could go back in time and kill Hitler" argument, Bucky simply chimes in that he did kill Hitler.
  • Bash Brothers:
    • Captain America and Bucky.
    • Bucky also becomes this with The Falcon, Sam Wilson.
  • Battle Couple: Bucky and Black Widow.
  • Bowdlerise: Of the three versions of the Winter Soldier storyline (the Ed Brubaker comics run, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Earth's Mightiest Heroes couldn't use the iconic "Who the hell is Bucky?" line as-written.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: As the Winter Soldier.
  • Breakout Character: In a complete reversal of the typical Legacy Hero reactions, fans absolutely loved Bucky as Captain America, to the point where some were even hoping that it'd stay that way even after Steve Roger's inevitable resurrection. And were overjoyed when for a while that's exactly what happened, with the revived Steve instead taking the role of Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Bucky's tenure as Captain America lasted up until Fear Itself where he was killed and later resurrected.
  • Call-Forward: One story has Cable follow his enemy back to WWII and end up getting the assistance of Cap and his teenage sidekick. As Nathan leaves, Bucky tells Steve that with a metal arm like that, he could do some pretty amazing things.
  • Catchphrase: Tends to respond to surprise difficulty with "Aw, c'mon!" or, in more extreme cases, "Ah, crap".
  • Child Soldier: Bucky was the camp mascot, but he effectively became this when he entered combat as Cap's sidekick. Later justified in modern comics with him being 15 at the beginning in 1941, with the commanding officer commenting that he was just a few weeks shy of 16 (the US military occasionally ignored such borderline age cases then), with it becoming a non-issue by the end of the war with him being 20.
    • In the modern version, it's explained as having been an army brat, taken in by the camp and trained alongside the soldiers after his dad died. As the brass realized his potential, they even had him train with the British SAS.
    • Brubaker's run presented the Golden Age comics as an in-universe fictionalized version of the "true story", meant to bolster morale among civilians. Bucky lampshades it at one point while looking through one of the comic books.
      Bucky: What am I supposed to be here, eight?
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Despite being a good person at heart and genuinely wanting to do right by his country, he is plagued by his desire to make up for the wrongs he did as the Winter Soldier and by doubts as to whether or not he can actually do the mantle justice.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Bucky is far quicker to resort to less dignified forms of fighting. Playing possum and then unloading a full clip in someone's face, pulling a woman's hair, whatever.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Dark Is Not Evil: For a time, after being released from his Soviet brainwashing, he continued to wear the same black leather costume he did as the Winter Soldier while working for Nick Fury and helping Cap from the shadows. Even his costume as Captain America contains more black than red-white-and-blue, but he's every bit as nice as Steve is.
  • Dead Sidekick: They used to say; "No one stays dead in comics except for Jason Todd, Uncle Ben and Bucky." Now it's down to just Uncle Ben, as DC brought back Jason Todd at almost the exact same time Marvel brought back Bucky.
  • Death Is Cheap: Double Subverted; a formerly common adage in comic book circles was "Nobody dies in comics except Uncle Ben, Jason Todd and Bucky". Eventually, however, Bucky was brought back as the Winter Soldier.
  • Deep Cover Agent: The Winter Soldier often served this role during the Cold War; he could easily pass for an American, because he actually was one. Bouts of Becoming the Mask, or rather, Fighting from the Inside, in his case, while on mission, led to his superiors' decision to place him in suspended animation between missions.
  • Depending on the Artist:
    • Is his gun a .45 or a Luger?
    • His mask. Are the eyes whited out or not? The majority of artists draw it as not whiting out his eyes, but a few don't.
    • And if you can see his eyes, what color are they — blue or brown? All-New Invaders is particularly inconsistent, he'll have blue eyes on one page and brown on the next.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Just like his partner and the original Cap, he's no slouch in defeating foes way more powerful than himself. Of particular note is his takedown of Ares, Greek God of War in the pages of New Avengers.
  • Dirty Communists: Who he worked for as the Winter Soldier during the Cold War. In modern times, he was awakened from cryonic storage and commissioned by Renegade Russian Aleksander Lukin, which led to the discovery of his existence by Captain America.
  • Domino Mask: A dark blue one as Cap's sidekick and a black one as the Winter Soldier (in the movie, it's Guy Liner, Cool Shades/goggles coupled with a mask that covers his lower face).
  • Empowered Badass Normal: While he is only an extremely well-trained soldier, his bionic arm plus unaging Infinity Formula allow for being able to hold his own against anyone up to Type 3 in Super Weight. In the movies, he was experimented on by Dr. Zola, giving him a similar skill set to Steve.
  • Faking the Dead: Only Steve Rogers, Black Widow, and Nick Fury know of his survival, because if word got out that he's still alive, it's back to the gulag for him.
  • Family Theme Naming: Theme nicknaming, anyhow. His sister's nickname is Becky.
  • Heroes Want Redheads:
    • Gretchen Zeller, a resistance fighter Bucky met during the war.
    • Bucky's love interest since he met her in the 1950s: Natasha.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: He was reviled by the public at large early in his stint as Captain America, but understandably so, considering Steve Rogers was assassinated not too long ago. And again after he was discovered by the public to have been a cold war assassin for the Soviets.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Captain America and Bucky. The original and the best.
  • Human Popsicle: When not on the job, his Soviet owners had him cryogenically frozen.

  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Cap was haunted about his Kid Sidekick's death until it turned out he was Not Quite Dead. Later he got to be haunted about his Kid Sidekick's transformation into a Brain Washed assassin.
    • And later, his failures resulting in Natasha having to forget all about him.
  • Indy Ploy: As Captain America, in contrast with Steve's Crazy-Prepared-ness, his tactical ability was often displayed through his prodigious reliance on these. Lampshaded by Sam in "Two Americas", when he comments that Steve had already warned him that Bucky's idea of tactical planning was basically "rush in and get captured".
  • Internal Homage: When Cap first confronts the Winter Soldier, the Soldier says "Who the hell is Bucky?" Later, after Natasha's memories of Bucky have been wiped out and he tries to speak with her, she repeats the line.
  • Kid Sidekick: Originally, but eventually subverted by the Ed Brubaker Retcon, which revealed him to be handpicked by the Army to accompany Cap and perform wetworks missions. Due to the Marvel Universe's lack of kid sidekicks (Stan Lee has expressed his dislike for the trope), it's led to the interpretation that Bucky was a deconstruction of them by showing that it'd only put a minor in mortal danger. The deconstruction angle went further with Brubaker's retconning him to have been more of a child assassin.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: The 2018 miniseries has Bucky accompanied by a white-furred cat called Alpine. She is also present in the 2020 miniseries.
  • The Leader: He is the leader of the All New, All Different/Marvel NOW version of the Thunderbolts.
  • Legacy Character: After the "death" of the original during the Golden Age, the Bucky identity was briefly used by Fred Davis, Jack Monroe, Rick Jones, Lemar Hoskins, and Bucky's own Alternate Universe granddaughter Rikki Barnes. Bucky himself became this for Captain America when Steve was killed.
  • Mechanical Muscles: Bucky's bionic arm is shaped to look extremely muscular to match his other arm.
  • Military Brat: Bucky's father was a career soldier, and he grew up on base. After his father died in a routine training exercise, Bucky's sister was sent to boarding school, but Bucky stayed.
  • Military Superhero: Just like Cap.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Exploited during the Two Americas arc. Sam poses as a black accountant hassling a local racist so that Bucky can pose as an out-of-town racist to gain their trust.
  • Multi-Ranged Master: As Captain America, but only because the shield is a Precision-Guided Boomerang. He often uses it in conjunction with his pistol, which may or may not be a heavily modified P08 Luger.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: His reaction upon getting his memories back.
  • My Greatest Failure: Steve regarded Bucky's supposed death at the end of World War II as this for a long time after his revival in the modern day.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: After finding out of Bucky's survival and freeing the guy from Soviet brainwashing, Steve felt that he should do everything in his power to keep Bucky alive and a good man. This apparently meant persuading Bucky to keep the Captain America mantle even after his own return from the dead.
  • Named After Someone Famous: James Buchanan, 15th President of the U.S. A strange choice, given he's considered one of the absolute worst, but probably a case of choosing the nickname first, then coming up with a full name to justify it. (Joe Simon named him for his friend, Bucky Pierson.) His father was also named James Barnes, but he had no middle name. Since The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it seems to have been retconned back to just the nickname "Bucky" again.
  • Neuro-Vault: In his last appearance as Captain America before his supposed second death it was revealed that the reason why he was extradited to Russia was because he had information on how to locate and activate a team of Deep Cover Agents much like the Winter Soldier subconsciously sealed in his mind, and the warden of his gulag had plans for this information.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Disregarding how unlikely it is to chance upon an amnesiac soldier well-versed in infiltration, sabotage, and assassination, the sheer amount of money put into enhancing Bucky ensured that creating more than one Winter Soldier wasn't a viable option.
  • No, You: He doesn't really do trash talk, and when people try to trash talk him he usually responds with some version of this.
  • Not Quite Dead: When the Russians found Bucky after the missile exploded over the Atlantic, he was clinically dead, but because his body had been submerged in freezing cold water right at the time of death, they attempted to resuscitate him as if his heart had only just stopped. It worked, but he was partially amnesiac: he retained no memories of his life or identity, but he still spoke four languages and had all of his instinctual combat training.
    • Getting stabbed with Sin's hammer left him Only Mostly Dead, and he was later revived through intensive medical care and the use of Nick Fury's Infinity Formula. His death was faked by Black Widow and Fury, who planted an LMD with injuries identical to his, and left it to be buried as a hero in Arlington, absolving him of the charges set against him during his time in prison.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Averted when he started out as Cap's sidekick, and during his stint as Captain America, but played straight (sort of, he wore a Domino Mask with his jumpsuit) during his time as the Winter Soldier. As the page picture shows, he's back to playing the trope straight again.

  • Older Than They Look: He looks barely a day over 25, but he was born almost a hundred years ago. Counting only time he spent out of cryo he'd be in his late thirties.
  • Omniglot: According to the Soviet file, Bucky spoke four languages by the time he was 19: English, Russian, German, and French. He's also been shown to speak Chinese. In Electric Ghost he says the army taught him six languages before he even met Steve.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: He's come down in history as "Bucky," which is half-nickname, half-superhero legacy. Originally, his girlfriend, Black Widow, was the only person who regularly called him "James," but more recent writers are having him known as such because they feel "Bucky" isn't a particularly dignified name for an adult hero. More rarely, someone will call him Jim, such as the team in Captain America Corps or Bucky Cap himself, addressing his time-traveling teenage counterpart in Avengers/Invaders.
    • Similarly, Bucky is the only person to call Natasha by her real name, "Natalia".
  • Parental Substitute: He becomes one to cosmic cube girl Kobik in Thunderbolts.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Played straight when he was just Cap's sidekick as he was only 5 foot 7 and can hold his own in the war. Somewhat downplayed when he becomes The Winter Soldier, where he grew taller by 2 inches, which is considered fairly average, but he's still shorter than many other superheroes.
  • Red Baron: Nobody knew him by name when he was operating as the Winter Soldier, not even his own Soviet superiors.
  • Redemption Demotion: When Bucky was reintroduced as the Winter Soldier, he was presented as a cold, unerring, and efficient assassin who could eliminate the Red Skull without even batting an eyelash. After regaining his memories and subsequently taking on the Captain America mantle, while he did fairly well, he showed an over-reliance on Indy Ploys and a tendency to end up being saved by his buddies from harm. This makes a certain amount of sense, since the skill-sets of 'assassin' and 'superhero' aren't quite the same - putting a bullet in someone like the Red Skull is easier than taking them in alive.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: The Ed Brubaker retcon basically amounts to this, turning Bucky from a Kid Sidekick to a teenage assassin, bumping his age slightly (he's still too young to be a soldier, but in an era where the military needed bodies enough to overlook that), and saying that Bucky's original origin story — camp mascot who found out Cap's secret identity and had to become his partner — was an official story put out by the military who didn't want to let on to the fact that he was highly-trained in covert ops.
  • Related in the Adaptation: In keeping with his being a case of Spared by the Adaptation in both at the time, Heroes Reborn and Ultimate Marvel depict Bucky as having settled down with Peggy Carter and Gail Richards from the Republic Pictures Captain America serials respectively after WWII.
  • Renegade Russian: Aleksander Lukin, CEO of Kronas. The discovery of the Winter Soldier's existence was due to Lukin recommissioning the Soldier after decades of being a Human Popsicle since the end of the Cold War to acquire the Cosmic Cube and enact a plan to use the Cube and Kronas to destroy the American economy from within. He is a protege of the Soviet officer who had Bucky brainwashed in the first place.
  • Ret-Canon:
    • A strangely recursive example is his hair. In the original "Winter Soldier" storyline, Bucky has straggly, chin-length hair. After he regains his memories, however, Bucky gets a haircut, and is usually drawn with a '40s-style three-quarters part. The movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier reproduces the initial character design for the Winter Soldier almost note for note, including the longer hair, and so, in order to tie into Bucky's Breakout Character status from one of the hottest movies of the year, Marvel brought back the long hair.
    • In a similar example, his arm also received something of a regression. His original mechanical arm has a red star to represent his Russian affiliation while brainwashed as the Winter Soldier, likely also as a sick joke from his creator regarding his friendship with Cap. After returning to his heroic roots, the arm is destroyed and Bucky gets a replacement from Nick Fury that looks mostly the same, except the star is now white and has blue and red circles around it, sort of a play on Cap's shield. Once the movie came out, Bucky's arm is suddenly sporting the red star again despite him having no reason to do this.
    • The major departure in the movie costume is the use of a full face mask with goggles instead of the comic's domino mask. Both Avengers Assemble and Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier have incorporated the mask + goggles combo into Bucky's gear, though this was very brief and he's since reverted to the domino mask.
    • Bucky's relationship with Steve was altered from being a typical hero-sidekick duo to childhood best friends in Marvel Comics #1000 to match up with the MCU.
  • Retcon: Ed Brubaker's retooling of the Bucky character into a teen assassin, brainwashed into becoming a Soviet agent after secretly surviving World War II, paving the way for his reintroduction into modern day comics is often hailed as one of the most well done Retcons in recent history. His original death in The '60s was a retcon as well, saying that the Captain America and Bucky from The '50s were actually impostors. According to Brubaker, it was when he learned that this oft-flashbacked-to death was just a retcon that he determined that, if he ever got to write Captain America comics, he'd undo it.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: The reason why he's so youthful is because the Soviets kept him in suspended animation while he wasn't out on missions.
  • Shout-Out: After the French liberation, Bucky and Toro took two girls to see Jean-Paul Sartre's "No Exit". He thought it was weird, but the last line stuck with him.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Winter Soldier was long assumed to be just a myth.
  • Sidekick Graduations Stick / Legacy Character: Despite Steve coming Back from the Dead again, Bucky continued to serve as Captain America, with the approval of the man himself. Not anymore though, Steve's Cap again.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: As Heroes Reborn, The Ultimates, and Trouble (Marvel Comics) were all written before Captain America: Winter Soldier saw print, his depictions as having survived in those universe count as this at the time they were made.
  • Spy Fiction: Bucky's new Winter Soldier ongoing has shaped up to be this. Ed Brubaker has played with Espionage Tropes before, especially during Bucky's stint as Captain America, but he goes all out here. One could say the book is Spy Fiction masquerading as a Superhero story. It's primarily Martini-flavored; aside from Bucky's usual hands-on approach, he dons nice suits as disguises and uses some snazzy SHIELD-issue gadgets. There is a bit of Stale Beer in there as well, considering the main conflict is a plot to depose a political leader (granted, said leader is Doctor Doom, but still). And then this plot is to be executed with the liberal use of machinegun-wielding fascist gorillas.
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • Pretty much the reason why he faked his death and went back to the Winter Soldier codename. It was all so Steve could return to his original role as Captain America to coincide with the 2011 movie.
    • Also the reason why his relationship with Black Widow ended with it being wiped from her memory since she had gotten a bigger public profile as an Avenger. It seems to have sort of creeped back in — at the least, she remembers it now.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Justified as he's a thoroughly unpowered (in the comics) — though in good shape and well trained — hero going against Cap's still-powered rogues gallery.
  • Super Soldier: In the MCU, thanks to HYDRA's experiments. The comics version is a borderline case following Fear Itself, when the Infinity Formula was used to save his life.
  • Symbol Swearing: Bucky can be very foul-mouthed.
  • The Team Normal: He was this during his time in The Invaders; on a team with Captain America, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and The Human Torch and Toro, he only had his black-ops training to his credit.
  • That Man Is Dead: Reluctantly:
    Jim Hammond: Bucky!
    Namor: James!
    Bucky: Name's Winter Soldier now, guys, like it or not. Time we all got used to it.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Thanks to Ed Brubaker, he's gone a long way from being one of the most laughable examples of a Kid Sidekick ever. How long? He became Captain America.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: His guns can only work if it recognizes his fingerprints. If someone else tries to use it, it self-destructs.
  • Verbal Tic: Tends to say "Hey!" a lot, especially when surprised.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Namor is proud and Bucky constantly snarks him, but they fought side by side in World War II and the kind of friendship forged there means they have a much higher tolerance for each others' crap— Steve is openly passive-aggressive and disgusted with Namor's actions with the Illuminati, but Bucky is silent on the matter and they work together with the usual banter in the first issue of his current ongoing.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Aside from his cybernetic arm, Bucky doesn't have much in the way of superhuman abilities, but he still manages to hold his own quite well against powered opponents, owing to his Combat Pragmatist tendencies and skill set.
    • The MCU version, however, is canonically a Super Soldier capable of going toe to toe with Captain America — though he is still this compared to Steve, the latter being taller and bulkier than he is.
  • Wham Line: Used both in the comics and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to reveal his memory loss as the Winter Soldier:
    Captain America: ...Bucky?
    The Winter Soldier: ...Who the hell is Bucky?


    Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier

Bucky is the next Man on the Wall. He goes on space missions to eliminate threats to Earth.

  • Action Girl: Daisy Johnson.
  • Actor Allusion: Bucky has a Shakespearean side to him that hasn't been shown before. Sebastian Stan studied Shakespeare.
  • Angrish: Loki subverts this, as when he is sufficiently angry he starts to form sentences like a normal person.
  • Arc Words: "The lost glove is happy."
  • Art Shift:
    • The 616 scenes have a lot of water color and oddly-shaped panels with border breaks to make it feel surreal. The planet Pao'ree is downright psychedelic.
    • The other universe has a more cartoonish art style.
  • Blatant Lies: The two Buckys both claim not to be worried about Daisy's confrontation with Crossbones, but they both know the other is lying.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Daisy gets annoyed at older Bucky's concern about Alternate Universe Crossbones and whether she killed him. She tells him she shot him but avoided major arteries. He points out that Crossbones has a healing factor.
  • Hypocrite: older Bucky accuses young people of making assumptions, then in the same breath admits that the present problems are caused by himself making assumptions.
  • Riddle Me This: Loki likes to use this phrase to point out that his attacks could always be illusions.
  • Rhymes on a Dime:
    • During their fight, Bucky rhymes a phrase with what Loki just said, because as Daisy pointed out, he went full Shakespearean.
    • When Ventolin traps him in a box, Loki gets so angry that he forgets to rhyme.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare:
    • Daisy knows Bucky is in a terrible mood when he uses Shakespearean insults on Loki.
    • Loki himself quotes The Tempest at Bucky.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Ventolin and Loki play telepathic chess.
  • True Love Is Boring: Apparently, Bucky and Ventolin got a happy ending in most universes, but not the 616.

    The Bitter March 

The Bitter March

SHIELD attempts to extract a couple of Nazi scientists who supposedly know how to create resources. Hydra comes after them, and so does the Winter Soldier. Set during Bucky's time as a Soviet assassin.

  • The '60s: Takes place in 1966. Shen's SHIELD contact speaks slang, and SHIELD is experimenting on hippies.
  • Abusive Parents: One of Drain's victim was beaten so badly by his mother that though he is an adult now, he never recovered.
  • Driven to Suicide: Drain pokes Mr. Hitzig's insecurities until he shoots himself in the head.
  • Hypocrite: Mr. Hitzig's entire character. He calls his wife a harlot, though he claims to feel entirely certain she would never cheat on him. He claims credit for his wife's scientific discoveries and berates her for her pipe dream ideology which were her reason for making said discoveries in the first place. He hates America for its capitalism, yet only wants to sell the formula his wife discovered.
  • Meaningful Name: Mr. Hitzig has a temper. His wife, who married into the name, less so.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Lord Drain.
  • Pun: When Nick Fury decides to sneak into a castle via the sewage system, and tells Shen it's because he's willing to do stuff like that that Nick is SHIELD's number one, while Shen is number two, Shen assures him there's a lot of number two where he's headed.
  • Same Surname Means Related: Averted with Mr. Hitzig, who as far as anyone knows is unrelated to the Nazi officer from Auschwitz.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Drain's power is basically sensing your darkest secrets and poking them to torture you.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Drain tries to guilt Mila into surrendering by hurting people and blaming it on her.

    Winter Soldier 

Winter Soldier

The Longest Winter • Broken Arrow • Black Widow Hunt • Electric Ghost

The first Winter Soldier solo. Written by Brubaker and Latour.

Bucky Barnes narrowly survived the events of Fear Itself, but chooses to let people think he's dead so he can settle a matter from his past involving KGB agents in cryonic storage on American soil, their activation codes auctioned off to the highest bidder.

  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Bucky is forced to do this to himself to save Natasha, by making Rodchenko reprogram him with the same type of machine the Soviets used on him.
  • Call-Back: When Bucky tries to connect with a brainwashed Natasha and tells her "it's me, Bucky!" she replies "Who the hell is Bucky?"
  • The Backwards Я: In the "Electric Ghost" arc, whenever someone speaks Russian, the words are English but the letters Cyrillic.
  • Dramatic Irony: After the Winter Soldier killed Tesla's father, his handler commented on how he had always been loyal to a fault while looking at a child's drawing of Captain America and Bucky.
  • Fan Disservice: At the end of her rant, Tesla kisses Bucky, who is her prisoner, and whose prosthetic she has removed.
  • Godwin's Law: Defied by Bucky, who thinks that if he has to compare everything to fighting Nazis, he won't be able to complain about anything.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Jasper Sitwell throws himself between Black Widow's bullets and Fury.
    • Bucky sacrifices his command over his own mind so that Leo will spare Natasha.
  • It's Personal: After forgetting he was ever KGB and living as a homeless American for a dozen years before regaining his memories, Leo no longer cares about political targets, but only about getting revenge on the people he feels betrayed him, like the man who trained him, the Winter Soldier.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Professor Rodchenko does this to Natasha, to the effect that she forgets everything about Bucky.
  • Love Triangle: Zigzagged.
    • Both Leonid and Bucky want Natasha, who no longer remembers that she wanted Bucky, and with Leo mostly wanting her because he wants to prove that he is just as good as Bucky.
    • Invoked by Leo when he forces the Winter Soldier to fight Daredevil, both of whom are Natasha's exes. While the Winter Soldier programmed himself with that mission out of love for Natasha, he no longer remembers that once he's been programmed. All he knows is that his mission is to kill Daredevil, not why.
  • Meaningful Name: Tesla Tarsova gains power over electricity, with her namesake Nicola Tesla being famous for his work on electricity.
  • Mirror Character: Leo Novokov to Bucky. He was a KGB agent who was left with no memories but his insticts and reflexes after being cryogenically frozen by the Soviets. Bucky acknowledges this.
  • Named After Someone Famous: Tesla Tarasova is name for her father's favorite scientist, Nicola Tesla.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Tesla thanks Bucky for murdering her mother as the Winter Soldier, insisting that without that and the following hardships, her potential would have grown stale and she would not right now be on the verge of conquering the world.
  • Pun: Van Owen claims that "if" is at the core of life.
  • Training from Hell: Tesla Tarasova and a number of other children recieved this at the hands of Father Hammer.
  • Vanity License Plate: Bucky's motorcycle has a license plate that reads "KNIGHT".

    Forever Allies 
  • Black Guy Dies First: Inverted. Out of the core Young Allies, Washington Jones is the last to die. Bucky was technically the first to die, but due to retroactive plot armor he's still alive.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The young allies have their minds hijacked by a powerful telepath and are sent to bomb a military target on American soil.
  • Companion Cube: Lady Lotus talks to her gem and explains her plans to it.
  • Cool Plane: The one Bucky borrows from Texas Jack.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In the middle of a magically-induced earthquake, while Lotus screams aabout how only someone of the purest blood can wield her power gem, Wash points out that she just said that WASP Pat couldn't handle it.
  • Flanderization: Inverted. Hank comments that his comic book version, Fat Comic Relief "Tubby Tinkle", is a lot more comically obese than he ever was. Wash points out that he got it worse, since "Whitewash Jones" is like something out of a minstrel show.
  • Flashback Episode: All the issues are half present-day, half WWII memories.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: Lady Lotus's own racism toward Wash is what enables him to break free of her telepathic control.
  • In-Series Nickname: All the young allies had one. James is obviously Bucky, and Thomas is Toro; Patrick "Pat" O'Toole is better known as Knuckles, Washington Jones as Wash; Geoffrey Worthington Vendergill goes by Geoff, and Henry Tinklebaum is simply Hank.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: Wash and Hank aren't impressed by their comic book depictions.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: Pulls this on the Golden Age Young Allies, depicting them in a more realistic fashion with the original comic versions being in-universe Flanderization
  • Retcon: This series retcons the Golden Age comic book "Young Allies" into in-universe war propaganda.
  • Same Surname Means Related: Averted with Geoff Worthington Vandergill, who is not mentioned to be related to Angel.
  • Shout-Out: An elderly Knuckles thinks Bucky's post-war experiences sound like something out of Amazing Stories.
  • Sue Donym: When present-day Bucky goes undercover as a journalist, Natasha takes a page out of Steve's book and makes his fake name "Barney Jamieson".

Alternative Title(s): Bucky Barnes