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Comic Book / Winter Soldier

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Winter Soldier is a 2018 5-part miniseries written by Kyle Higgins and art by Rod Reis. The second volume, the miniseries centers around Bucky Barnes's attempts to atone for the crimes he committed as the Winter Soldier by helping other people escape brainwashy organizations like Hydra and A.I.M.

After running into a teenager whose training Hydra modeled on a young Bucky, and handler had disowned and tried to kill. Bucky sees his chance to maybe turn this kid's life around and offers him a place to stay while his wounds heal.

Between losing his parents, being abandoned by his foster-parents, and being brainwashed by Hydra, RJ understandably has trust issues. Things are further complicated by his other father-figures and the fact that Bucky's work now is about protecting people who have defected from criminal organizations.

Was published on paperback under the title Winter Soldier: Second Chances.

Winter Soldier provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Murder: Downplayed. Richard attacked Bucky, who stepped out of the way, which led to Richard crashing headfirst into a metal dumpster, and dying. Bucky still feels guilty about it.
  • Acoustic License: RJ and Bucky have no problem carrying on a conversation while they're both driving on the highway on a motorcycle.
  • Arc Number: 2. Everything happens twice; everyone gets a second chance.
    • Bucky's second chance at life is what inspires him to offer it to others.
    • The timeskip between issue one and two is two weeks. After that there's no timeskip.
    • Bucky meets with two clients before the plot kicks off.
    • Bucky needs to replace his metal arm twice.
    • RJ takes his second chance at life even when it rejects him.
    • RJ turns down his second chance to kill Bucky.
    • RJ loses his father, Richard, twice.
    • Also, while it's technically Bucky's third solo run, it the second run to be titled only "Winter Soldier".
  • Arc Words: "You're not a killer... or at least, you don't have to be." Bucky tells RJ this several times, speaking to himself as well.
  • The Atoner: Bucky tries to make up for all the bad he has done in good deeds.
  • Because I'm Good At It: Discussed. Both RJ and Bucky are good at killing people. Only RJ thinks this means that he should do it.
  • Caltrops: How Mr. Colt ambushes Bucky on their first encounter.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Tony tells Bucky that he should keep a spare arm around, so that Tony won't have to drop everything and drive to Shelbyville, Indiana every time Bucky uses his prosthetic to protect against gunfire. After Spot breaks off his metal arm in the middle of a fight, RJ retrieves the spare one from his motorbike, and he can keep fighting.
  • Child Soldier: RJ is modelled in-universe on a young Bucky Barnes, but working for HYDRA makes it all seem a lot darker. After five issues of character development, RJ puts on his Bucky costume one last time and kills his old HYDRA handler. Then he drops his machine gun and runs off crying.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome:
    • RJ accuses Bucky of having one. Bucky doesn't think that's entirely fair.
    • Discussed by Sharon when she points out that saving someone is not the same thing as helping them.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Bucky threatens to call Ironheart the next time he needs to replace his arm.
    • Bucky's therapist is Dr. Samson, Hulk's doctor.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: As is the norm for the Marvel universe, the Winter Soldier can pretty much step out of the cryochamber alive the moment the liquid nitrogen is drained out.
  • Cool Sword: RJ has a vibranium sword.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Bucky vs Richard Boyle.
  • Dirty Cop: The story opens with a group of these, and Bucky coming to collect one who wants out.
  • Disappeared Dad: RJ's father vanished from his life when he was one.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The second chances refer to Bucky's second chance to live a relatively normal life after his pardon; it also refers to his work with reformed criminals, giving them a second chance to live their lives as decent people. When RJ's father shows up, he wants a second chance to parent his kid, while Mr. Colt just takes his second chance to be RJ's Hydra connection without asking. RJ ultimately decides he wants a second chance at life, too, and runs away.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Terry lets slip that he's been talking to Amy, who is still in Hydra, seconds before the Hydra assassin shows up to kill him.
  • Fatal Family Photo: When RJ has his doubts about his father's ability to recognize him, not having seen him since he was a baby, Richard pulls out a photo of RJ with his mom right before she died when RJ was five. Sure enough, Richard is dead within a couple of days.
  • Flashback: Bucky's resurfacing memory of someone trying to rescue him when he was the Winter Soldier, and him, being brainwashed, repaying that kindness by killing the person.
  • Generation Xerox: Bucky runs into a child soldier working for HYDRA, who resembles himself at that age. Which makes sense, as HYDRA trained him specifically to kill the Winter Soldier.
  • Good Feels Good: Bucky says that helping people makes him feel worthwhile again.
  • Go Through Me: Mr. Colt shoots Bucky through RJ's chest, puncturing the lung.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: RJ had to prove himself by murdering two random diner-goers with a knife.
  • Important Haircut: After taking in RJ, Bucky grows out his beard, only shaving it again after RJ has left and Bucky's time as a surrogate father is over.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: RJ has these subverted, as when he shoots through Spot's space-warping holes, he manages to miss both Bucky and himself.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: When Bucky talks to Dr. Samson about his journal, he says that it barely helps that he's the only one who'll ever read it. RJ overhears this and goes straight to Bucky's room to read the journal.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Bucky has a cat who spends a lot of her screen time in his lap.
  • Literal-Minded: When Bucky tells RJ that you don't have to do something just because you're good at it — in this case killing — RJ replies that you do if you want to become great (at it).
  • Looks Like Jesus: Bucky. Fits with the themes of atonement and forgiveness.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Not having seen his son since he was one, Richard has to tell RJ this.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Richard. After getting help to start over and help with the debt he got in to start over, he plans another robbery. When his son takes issue, he pretends to let it go, but later tells his buddies that the boy is on board.
  • Meaningful Name: Mr. Colt has a thing for handguns.
  • Mind Screw: Bucky's therapist explains that the whole situation is this for RJ: he was raised by Hydra to kill the man who, when he failed and was kicked out of the organization, took him in and offered him help.
  • Mythology Gag: Mr. Colt shoots Bucky through RJ, in much the same way Winter Soldier shot his target through Black Widow, judging by the scar she shows for it in Captain America: Winter Soldier.
  • Neck Lift: How the Winter Soldier killed the person trying to help him escape.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: RJ delivers one to Bucky, who refuses to fight back.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bucky when he sees the caltrops in the road before him.
  • Parental Substitute: RJ has three: Mr. Colt, his Hydra handler; Bucky, who sees a lot of himself in him; and his actual biological father, who shows up in his life for a short time after a decade and a half of absence.
  • Please Kill Me if It Satisfies You: Bucky tells RJ to kill him if that's what he wants. RJ bursts into tears and swears that he's not a killer.
  • Pop the Tires: Mr. Colt puts down Caltrops on the highway to stop Bucky on his motorcycle.
  • Power of Trust: Invoked by Bucky, who straight up tells RJ that he wants this to work on him.
  • Rule of Three:
    • Bucky needs his mechanical arm replaced three times over the course of the story.
    • RJ goes through three father figures.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Bucky has "The Art of Peace" by Aikido founder Morihei Ueshida.
    • A thug calls Richard "Richie Rich", but corrects himself because Richie Rich would have been able to pay back the money he loaned him.
  • Significant Haircut: In the end, when Bucky has second thoughts about helping reform criminals, he shaves his beard and no longer Looks Like Jesus.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A Hydra defector in the first issue stays in touch with his fellow Hydra member girlfriend after leaving Hydra to start over. Needless to say, Hydra finds him and sends a killer after him.
  • Tragic Backstory: RJ's dad went to prison when RJ was one. His mother succumbed to cancer when he was five. He was in several foster homes before one of them handed him to Hydra, and his handler there was predictably abusive.
  • Worf Effect: Despite having been trained for it, a fifteen-year-old getting the upper hand on the Winter Soldier can only possibly be excused by Bucky starting out taking a few rounds from a machine gun in his vest.
  • You Have Failed Me: Mr. Colt's reaction to pretty much every mistake RJ makes. Due to his failure to kill Bucky in the first issue, Colt shoots the boy and leaves him to die. In a flashback, because killing those two diner-guests with just a knife was messy, RJ doesn't get food after all.