One of Steve Rogers' best friends, James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes is an iconic character in Marvel Comics, one with a story and a legacy almost as fascinating as Captain America's. First introduced as the hero's sidekick in Captain America Comics #1, Bucky's death in the comics became an integral part of Steve Rogers' story, one of those personal tragedies that became a defining moment for the hero. But in the world of comics, the dead don't always stay that way and in 2005, Bucky Barnes returned — now a Soviet assassin named the "Winter Soldier".
For fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is a familiar story and one they are eager to see continue in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But there's so much more to Bucky Barnes' story and to prepare for the Marvel series' debut on Disney+ on Friday, we've put together a reading list of the top five Winter Soldier stories in comics to check out before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts.
From the debut of Winter Soldier in Captain America Vol. 5 (2002) through the recent Invaders run, here is some essential reading to better understand the Winter Soldier, his place in the legacy of Captain America, and why he's so much more than a former sidekick and (formerly) brainwashed assassin.
Captain America (Vol. 5) "The Winter Soldier" #8-9, 11-14 (2005)
After decades of being thought dead, Captain America (Vol. 5), written by Ed Brubaker with art by Steve Epting, revealed that Bucky Barnes had actually survived in World War II and offered up the story of what happened next to Steve Rogers' best friend after his apparent demise.
In "The Winter Soldier" story arc, Bucky's discovery by the Russians and his transformation into the brutal assassin the Winter Soldier plays out, explaining how he got his bionic arm and how he's remained young for decades. The storyline also sees Captain America become aware of the Winter Soldier and that the assassin is his long-believed-dead friend Bucky.
While "The Winter Soldier" arc is the one that digs into the Winter Soldier's origin in great detail, it's also worth reading the "Out of Time" arc (issues #1-6) as well as "Interlude: The Lonesome Death of Jack Monroe" in #7 for a bit of additional context.prevnext
Captain America Vol. 5 "The Death of Captain America" #25-42 (2005)
Another critical read is "The Death of Captain America" storyline a bit later in Brubaker's Captain America (Vol. 5) run. Stever Rogers leaves instructions for Tony Stark, then the executive director of S.H.I.E.L.D., to watch over Bucky Barnes; Rogers also insists that the Captain America mantle should continue, prompting Tony to decide that Bucky should become the new Captain America.
Bucky's first mission as the new Captain America sees him team up with Sam Wilson/Falcon and Sharon Carter/Agent 13 to fight Red Skull and Dr. Faustus. Given that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will see Bucky pair with these same characters in the Disney+ series, this is a particularly timely read before the show kicks off.prevnext
Winter Soldier #1-14 (2012)
Another fantastic run from Brubaker, this time with art by Butch Guice, Winter Soldier #1-14 follows Bucky's story after the end of his time as Captain America. In the story, he partners up with another former Soviet agent, Natasha Romanoff/Blackk Widow, to track down the sleeper agents he worked with during his days as a brainwashed assassin.
The storyline sees both Winter Soldier and Black Widow having to revisit their pasts and is full of action, adventure, and even a bit of romance. Bonus: this is also essential reading for the upcoming Black Widow film.prevnext
Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Perhaps not the most expected Winter Soldier story, Ales Kot and Marco Rudy's Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier takes the character away from earth and sees him go cosmic, taking on the role of "The Man on the Wall" as he works to protect Earth from intergalactic and extradimensional threats. The series is a fantastic opportunity to see Bucky outside of how MCU fans have previously seen him and for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans there's an added bonus as the series sees him team up with Daisy "Quake" Johnson.prevnext
You can't have a Winter Soldier reading list without including something related to Marvel's first super-team, the Invaders. Written by Chip Zdarsky with art by Carlos Magno with Butch Guice, this 12-issue 2019 Invaders series sees Bucky along with Captain America and the original Human Torch Jim Hammond come together to deal with their former teammate Namor's deadly plans that threaten the world. It's a fascinating story that sees the heroes not only face-off with their former friend but also confront with the echoes of a war fought long ago.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts on Disney+ beginning Friday, March 19th.0comments
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