Winter Soldier is the alter-ego of Bucky Barnes, that appears in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Originally introduced as a sidekick to Captain America, the character was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (cover-dated March 1941) (which was published by Marvel's predecessor) as the original and most well-known incarnation of "Bucky". The character is brought back from supposed death as the brainwashed assassin Winter Soldier (Russian: Зимний Солдат, translit. Zimniy Soldát; Belarusian: Зімовы Салдат translit. Zimovy Saldat; Uzbek: Qish Askari translit. Kish Askari), and later assumed the role of Captain America when Steve Rogers was presumed to be dead.
The history of James Buchanan Barnes spans some 70 years of publications. Below is an abridged accounting of his history. For a full unabridged version see the
Born March 20, 1925, James Buchanan Barnes lost both his parents early in his life; his mother Winifred had died when he was a child and his father George had died in an accident while in basic training at Camp Lehigh shortly before Christmas in 1937. He was separated from his younger sister Rebecca, who was sent to boarding school while he persuaded officials into letting him remain at Camp Lehigh as a ward of the state due to sharing his father's love of the armed forces. He was eventually considered the camp mascot. During World War II, he set up a profitable endeavor providing soldiers with various non-requisition supplies. He soon began to receive select assignments as a special military operative, having received hand-to-hand combat training with British Commandos under the tutelage of William Essart Fairbairn and Colonel Rex Applegate.
It was possibly linked to operations conducted by the mysterious Romulus, a figure involved in worldwide espionage. He met and befriended a young and somewhat naive private Steven Rogers, who had recently become the government operative Captain America. He was assigned to accompany Rogers, but was initially unaware of the true nature of his work. One night, Barnes happened into Rogers' tent just as he was changing to his masked identity. Sworn to secrecy, Barnes joined Captain America on his first mission against the Red Skull (Johann Schmidt), freeing many Nazi prisoners. For several months afterward, Barnes underwent an intensive training program under Captain America's tutelage.
When he finished, he received his own costumed identity as Bucky and was designated as a counter-example to Hitler Youth. Although he was able to work with his mentor for most of his missions, James was trained to carry out missions the government officials did not want Captain America to be openly involved in. He was cynical and slightly dubious of the idealistic Steve Rogers, but they soon became the closest of friends.
When America entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Captain America and Bucky abandoned their military identities for most of the war to devote their full energies to serving as costumed freedom fighters. They soon found themselves allied with the Sub-Mariner, the original Human Torch, and his young mutant partner Toro, in a team that Winston Churchill dubbed the Invaders. Bucky served Captain America and the Invaders capably and faithfully, leaving the team only temporarily in 1942 to organize and lead his own team of teenage soldiers, the Kid Commandos. Once, to rescue the Invaders from the Red Skull, Bucky assembled a team of costumed super-humans who operated on the home front, a group that would remain together until the end of the war and was known as the Liberty Legion. He also worked with another group of teenagers, the Young Allies.
In late 1945, toward the end of the war, Captain America and Bucky were in London, England, on the trail of Nazi scientist Baron Heinrich Zemo. They discovered Zemo in the process of stealing an experimental drone plane built by the Allies. In the ensuing battle with Zemo's powerful humanoid robot, both Captain America and Bucky were rendered unconscious and strapped to the drone plane to be delivered to Hitler in Berlin. Unable to stand the sight of their patriotic costumes, Zemo dressed them in U.S. Army uniforms. Managing to escape before Zemo activated the plane, the two American champions saw the drone plane begin to move just as they jumped off. Quickly, Captain America and Bucky grabbed a motorcycle and tried to catch up with it. Just before it flew out of reach, the two leaped for the plane.
Bucky leaped first and managed to get a grip on the plane's wing. Captain America missed, and shouted to his partner to let go in case the plane was booby-trapped. Bucky was unable to comply with his partner's commands because his uniform sleeved snagged onto the cockpit of the plane. The plane exploded, seemingly killing Bucky instantly. Captain America plunged into the English Channel to undergo the process of suspended animation, but Bucky's remains were never recovered strengthening the belief that he was killed in action.
As the Winter SoldierBucky however was very much alive. When he had failed to disarm the plane in time he had leaped off of the plane but did not escape completely unscratched. The explosion had claimed his entire left arm. He then plunged into the icy waters only to undergo the same process his mentor had.
After the war had ended, a Russian submarine hoping to recover and capture the missing "Captain America" instead found the preserved body of Bucky. After being retrieved and examined for any traces of the Super-Soldier Serum, his body was placed in cryostasis.
In 1954, he was revived and outfitted with a replacement bionic arm which had been made after a Soviet spy had recovered schematics for cybernetic appendage. The arm was to be replaced by a newer and more advanced one every time there was an improvement in their technology. While he had no memory of his past, Barnes still had considerable physical skill. He was indoctrinated to hate the West and was provided with mental implants during sensory deprivation, molding him into the perfect assassin.
It was during this period that he met Natasha Romanoff who was part of the Black Widow Ops Program. He helped train her in combat while she was undergoing espionage training at the Red Room Academy. They fell in love and James often snuck into her sleeping quarters just so he could see her. Although Natasha was promised to Alexi Shostakov, she loved James more. This relationship did not last. Natasha learned that when Barnes was not needed for an operation or assassination he was kept in cryostasis in order to cease his aging.
He used to conduct many strategic assassinations across the world and would sometimes stay in one nation for extended periods. One of his targets was Itsu, the pregnant wife of his wartime ally Logan.
Then, in 1966, he was designated to catch two nazist scientists, Peter and Mila Hitzig, creators of the Alchemy Formula, but he remember his own identity during a fight against Drain, an Hydra agent interested in their recover. Then, with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Ran Shen, he tried to let Mila escape, before an unaware Nick Fury had killed her. Captured by Russians, the Winter Soldier received a new brainwash, in order to avoid incidents like that. However, after one of his missions, in 1973, Barnes did not report back on time. He went off the grid in New York City. He was recovered at a flop house, where coincidentally his former teammate Namor was also sleeping. As both men had amnesia, neither man recognized the other.
In 1983, he was assigned to accompany Vasily Karpov, an elderly general that had served in WWII, as bodyguard. He maintained the position until the general's death five years later, in 1988. Barnes had demonstrated mental instability in some of his later missions and was placed into stasis at one of Karpov's storage facilities which had been inherited by his protégé, General Aleksander Lukin. Following the USSR's collapse, Lukin went rogue and established the Kronas Oil Corporation.
In order to seize the Red Skull's new Cosmic Cube, General Lukin reactivated Barnes to assassinate the Skull, although neither of them realized the Red Skull had simultaneously transferred his consciousness into Lukin's body. After assassinating the adventurer Nomad (Jack Monroe) and framing him for the Skull's assassination, Barnes detonated a fire bomb in Philadelphia which claimed many victims. Their deaths helped power the Cosmic Cube, but Lukin who had been disturbed by the Cube's effect gave it to Barnes to store in a nuclear-safe vault in West Virginia. During investigations by Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America (Steve Rogers) discovered the true identity of the Lukin's assassin and confronted him at the vault. The two engaged in combat until Rogers gained possession of the Cube and used its powers to restore James' lost memories. Overcome with remorse, Barnes used the cube to teleport away and went underground to search for Lukin and the Red Skull, still unaware that they were now one and the same.
After a confrontation with the now X-Men Wolverine in Serbia, Barnes managed to track Lukin to England where the Skull unleashed a sleeper robot, salvaged from the Eisendorf excavation. Barnes abandoned his initial intentions to seek and eliminate Lukin to aid Rogers in destroying the robot. This was the first time in over half a century that they worked together, but he fled afterwards unable to face his mentor. He was revealed to be an undercover operative working for Nick Fury, who had gone underground after leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. Barnes encountered the Young Avengers Patriot, Hawkeye, and Vision]] on one of his assignments and learned how his and Cap's adventures had inspired contemporary heroes. He also reconciled with his former Invaders teammate Namor Kills Vol 1 #1}}, assisted Wolverine with incapacitating his son Daken, and comforted a cynical Patriot (Elijah Bradley).
Following Captain America's assassination, Barnes resolved to kill the two men he held responsible: the Red Skull and current S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Tony Stark (Iron Man). He acquired Cap's indestructible shield after defeating Black Widow, his former lover and student, in combat when she was assigned to move it to another location. Barnes then tracked Lukin and eventually confronted him only to discover his quarry was not a lead, but the Red Skull himself. Eventually captured by the Skull's forces, he resisted brainwashing by Dr. Faustus and was rescued by Falcon with the help of Sharon Carter, who was pretending to still be under Faustus' control. Barnes was then placed into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, but escaped and confronted Stark. He disabled his armor and fought him to a standstill only to learn his mentor's final requests of Stark: to rescue Barnes from his descent into violence and insanity, and to pass the Captain America identity to a successor. Stark felt the best way to honor both his friend's requests was for Barnes to become Captain America. Barnes agreed on the provision that his mind be cleansed of any remaining mental implants, and that he would answer to no one, not even Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D.
As Captain America
Now residing in Steve Rogers S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house, he outfitted himself with an alternate version of Cap's costume built by Tony Stark and, carrying his indestructible shield along with other weapons, Barnes quickly reacted against the efforts by the Red Skull and his accomplices to spread panic. Although effective in battle, he had yet to win the support or respect of either the US government or the general public. A number of civilians and costumed adventurers also disapproved of his current wardrobe; especially Clint Barton (Ronin, A.K.A Hawkeye). Despite the negative attention Barnes received, he continued to fight terrorism as Captain America and was often aided by Falcon (Sam Wilson), despite his initial disapproval of him. Together the two fought an A.I.M. cell headed by Arnim Zola. The Red Skull did not remain quiet for long.
He responded to Barnes' meddling by sending the Grand Director, whose mind had been molded by Doctor Faustus to believe he was Steve Rogers and Captain America after him; James barely survived the confrontation, and was forced by Falcon to retreat. The two investigated the Grand Director's next course of actions after he escaped from the Skull's grasp and was becoming mentally unstable; most of it was hiding and running from detection by A.I.M. and the Red Skull. James was finally recognized by the United States government and the public as a hero after foiling an assassination attempt on both Republican and Democratic candidates for political debates by Sin, daughter of the Red Skull. He also revamped his relationship with the Black Widow, one of his few remaining friends who is consistently faithful to him.
It was not long before he became involved in major conflicts such as an Invasion by extraterrestrial Skrulls along many other superheroes in New York. Wanting to continue to living his predecessor's legacy, James invited Clint Barton and the New Avengers to his safe-house, offering it as their base of operations as well as his own allegiance to their cause. And, at the end of a battle that involved the Avengers, the New Avengers and the Invaders, Toro, the former Invader, was revived by James: the Cosmic Cube satisfied his wish to have his friend alive once again.
Although he was reformed, there were still a few officials from both America and other foreign nations who had not all forgotten his past as the Winter Soldier. Soon, he face one of the crime committed as the Winter Soldier, when he had tried to kill Chinese scientist Zhang Chin in 1968, after the Invaders had already saved him from Japanese in 1942. This one wanted to use the Original Human Torch DNA as a virus to spread worldwide, but Bucky and Namor defeated the The Man with No Face and prevented his project. The Human Torch was buried honorably.
Captain America: Reborn
Bucky found out from Sharon that she had not really killed the original Captain America. As explained by Doctor Zola to Osborn, Rogers was trapped in a fixed position of time and space. But since Sharon ruined the machine that was suppose to bring him back, Steve was reliving his own past. Bucky and Black Widow attempted to steal the device from H.A.M.M.E.R., but they were captured. Osborn sent Widow back to Sharon with an ultimatum: either she would turn herself in, as Osborn had implicated her as Rogers' second shooter, or he would kill Bucky. Bucky was then sent into the custody of the Thunderbolts, who told him that he would be inducted into their group once Rogers was brought back. However, Bucky was secretly freed by Ant-Man and then rescued by Falcon.
After a period of reflection, Barnes decide to give up the Captain America identity in favor of the revived Rogers. Before giving up the Captain America mantle, Bucky and the Black Widow decide to fight and throw the shield one last time. Coincidentally, Rogers was suited up and ready to fight crime that night as well until he witnessed Bucky and the Black Widow depart. Rogers decides to peruse the dynamic duo and upon doing so realized that Bucky would be well off as Captain America. A quick battle ensues when Bucky and the Black Widow encounter Mr. Hyde and his henchman. After the two heroes dispense with the henchman, Mr. Hyde attempts to escape until Rogers joins the battle and defeats him. Quickly after, Rogers officially and respectfully hands the Captain America mantle over to Bucky giving Bucky his blessing.
Siege and the Heroic Age
When Osborn attacked Asgard, the heroes fought against his attempt of establishing an absolute power. For the first time, two Captains America took part to the battle: James and Steve contributed to defeat Osborn's forces. At the end of the war, the Superhuman Registration Act was abolished and Steve Rogers designated James Barnes as member of the new Avengers, whose first mission brought them to the future, fighting Ultron.
James confronted against the Grand Director, who became the leader of the Watchdogs as he couldn't stood how America had changed in worse than his was. Infiltrated in their troops, Barnes was recognized and kidnapped to pose as Bucky in the video that would have showed the explosion of the Hoover Dam. But Falcon firstly prevented the massacre of a train charged of explosives, then helped Bucky to defeat the Grand Director, whose body wasn't found in the river where he had fallen.
Wolverine Weapon X
In a distant future, approximately 25 years from Marvel time, a company known as Roxxon begins to send Deathlok cyborgs into the past and assassinate all super heroes in attempt to monopolize the US and possibly the world. Their only opposing force is a group of rebels that just so happens to consist of Wolverine. Their prime directive now is to find and assassinate the rebellion group leader known as the General. After assassinating the Punisher in an unknown time, their next target happens to be the current Captain America, James Buchanan Barnes. It has been hinted that the General is possibly Bucky himself because of his refusal to attempt to save himself possibly distorting the future time line the General has fought so hard for.
The Trial and Gulag
Baron Helmut Zemo accused Bucky not to be worthy to bring Cap's Shield and achieved the aim to discredit him as the new Captain America among the public opinion, by revealing his past as Bucky and, overall, as the Winter Soldier, thanks to the secret revelations of Sinthea Shmidt. A process occurred, Bucky evaded to save his friends from the new Red Skull girl and was condemned, even though the punishment resulted already extinguished. A Russian ambassador required James back to Russia, where he had been judged guilty for a double kill of citizens.
In the Gulag, Bucky was forced to fight the other villains imprisoned, who wanted him to die, and received the help of some of them, like Niko Constantin, part of the Wolf Spider project. When Colonel Rostov recuperated the activation codes of project Zephyr, the plan revealed to be a trap and Bucky decided to escape during his third battle. He succeeded and was rescued by the Black Widow, aware of Russians' strategy: in fact, the two citizens killed in 1982 were KGB Rostov's agents.
When Skadi led her attack on Washington, D.C. Bucky was there to oppose her; however, her power proved too great and he was beat to with-in an inch of his life. Before passing out, Bucky told Black Widow to warn people about the Serpent. Barnes was rushed to Fury, who gave him the Infinity Formula, which saved his life and restored him. Bucky decided to stay underground and has returned to his Winter Soldier identity. Bucky's LMD was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.
Winter Soldier again
Believed dead, James decided to provide to project Zephyr agents. He killed two of the three super soldiers that Madame Von Bardas, to which Colonel Rostov sold the agents, had used to attempt to destroy Doctor Doom. The third, Leo Novokov, had woken up from hibernation twelve years before. Considering the Winter Soldier a betrayer of his homeland, he firstly sent him a message by killing the second Bucky (Fred Davis Jr.), then kidnapped the Black Widow as he wanted to hit James in his personal affairs. Bucky, intentioned to save his lover, accepted the mission that Leo prepared and attacked Daredevil; then, at the Arlington Cemetery, he defeated the soldier. However, he achieved his revenge: Natasha's memories were all recovered, except for what concerned Bucky.
Later, James confronted Tesla Tarasova, the daughter of Linus Tarasova, victim of the Winter Soldier in 1983. Tesla had killed Father Hammer, the leader of an island where orphans grew as weapons to sale, like she had been, and seemed to want to change her past thanks to the cosmic rays that her father invented. Reached at the space base, the girl faced James, who explained how he grew better by accepting his difficult past. The base was attacked by the S.H.I.E.L.D., James and Tesla survived and the girl eventually escaped.
Eventually, the Winter Soldier reappeared as a member of the reassembled All-New Invaders, fighting the aliens Kree of Tanalth and freeing Toro, now become an Inhuman, from Kurt Dagmar, a Martian who gave him the occasion to investigate about Martians attacks during the history and their link with Killraven.
Bucky was one of the heroes secretly gathered by Nick Fury to supposedly investigate the death of Uatu the Watcher, when those heroes were actually meant to find a trail of Fury's activities as "the Man in the Wall" (the secret first line of defense against space invaders) in order to become his replacement.
When Bucky realized he had been lied to, he attacked the LMD of Nick Fury left in the Avengers Tower, and used it to find the location of the real Nick. The other selected heroes made their own way to said location, a secret satellite. There, the aged Nick Fury confronted the heroes and told them what he wanted with them. When Fury got an alert that the body of the LMD left with the Avengers had self-destructed because someone was trying to investigate it, he took one of the Watcher's eyes from Bucky and enclosed himself in a secure room, as he tried to activate the second eye he had all this time. When the Avengers arrived to the satellite, as Iron Man tracked down the signal from the LMD, Fury confronted the heroes, equipped with an armor while holding the two eyes of the Watcher, claiming that his eyes had been opened.
Fury managed to repel the heroes and get back to the Watcher's Citadel, where Doctor Midas was trying to acquire more power than he had when he attacked the citadel. Fury fought Midas' Mindless Ones, during which fight one of the Watcher's eyes was taken from him by the Orb, and was almost defeated, until the Winter Soldier and the other heroes chosen by Fury got to him, and also managed to get the confession from him that he was the one who had killed Uatu.
After Fury's apparent death in the explosion which killed Doctor Midas, the Winter Soldier took his place as the Man in the Wall.
Powers & Abilities
Bionic Arm: Bucky's left arm was completely destroyed when he tried to escape the explosion that put both him and Captain America in a coma, so his organic arm was instead replaced with a bionic one. That arm grants him the following ability:
- Superhuman Strength: Has some degree of superhuman strength in his bionic arm, enough to lift roughly 5-10 tons.
- Enhanced Reaction Time: His arm's reaction time is greater than that of any Olympic athlete who has and will ever compete.
- Stabilization Sensors: Bucky can detect the balance of objects (namely Captain America's shield) and throw items with pinpoint accuracy. He was able to throw Captain America's shield with perfect accuracy and cause it to return when he used his bionic arm.
- Sensory Array: The arm houses different sensors which allow him to pass through security such as metal detectors without setting them off. It can also shield other metallic objects from detection such as firearms and knives.
- Extended Reach: He can apparently either control his bionic arm even if it has been removed from his body (possibly by cybernetic implants), or his arm can be programmed to perform certain actions on its own while removed from his body.
- Electrical Discharge: He can discharge bolts of electrical energy from his arm's palm.
- EMP: He can discharge an EMP rendering electronic devices useless. He failed to use it on a prepared Iron Man.
- Holographic Disguise: The arm can create holograms to appear, look and feel like a normal human arm.
Infinity Formula: During the Fear Itself event, Bucky was beaten to near death by Skadi, so Fury injected him with the formula, which has granted him this following abilities:
- Enhanced Strength: James's physical strength has been enhanced, his strength is equal to the peak of human potential. His physical strength is above a normal human being, enough for him to lift more than 800lbs, but no more than 2 tons.
- Enhanced Speed: James's speed is similarly enhanced, allowing him to run at ~ 50 mph.
- Enhanced Durability: James's body is more resistant to physical injury, his bones and skin are far denser, harder than that of an ordinary human. He seems capable of taking multiple gunshot, puncture wounds , massive explosions as well as beatings from superhumans and still stand on his feet.
- Enhanced Agility: James's agility, balance, and bodily coordination are enhanced to levels that are beyond the natural physical limits of even the finest human athlete.
- Enhanced Stamina: James's body eliminates the excessive build-up of fatigue-producing poisons in his muscles and his musculature generates considerably less fatigue toxins than the muscles of an ordinary human being, granting him superhuman levels of stamina in all physical activities.
- Enhanced Reflexes: James possesses superhuman levels of reflexes, he is reflexive enough to dodge bullets, arrows, and even lasers. His reflexes speed is 20 kph.
- Regenerative Healing Factor: He is able to heal broken bones, torn muscles, several gunshot & knife wounds and other severe injuries within a day and most lesser injuries like cuts, scrapes and burns within hours. He has come back from the dead thanks to his healing factor
- Semi-immortality: The Infinity Formula in James´s blood has granted him an ageless immortality.
- Enhanced Mental Process: Bucky's mental process has been enhanced, allowing his mind to; process information quickly, giving him an accelerated learning aptitude, a knack for quickly analyzing multiple information streams (e.g., threat assessment) and rapidly respond to changing tactical situations, eidetic memory (meaning that he never forgets anything and has perfect recall), speed read, and high deductive/reasoning skills.
- Master Martial Artist: Barnes is a dangerously skilled martial artist and hand-to-hand combatant. He received training from World War Two hand-to-hand combat luminaries William Essart Fairbairn and Colonel Rex Applegate as well as Captain America (Steve Rogers) in multiple martial arts, and acrobatics as a teenager during WWII and was trained in more of them while being molded into an assassin by the Soviet Union. He has single-handedly beaten Crossbones, a squad of SHIELD agents, Wolverine and the Black Widow, defeated a regiment of Hydra agents alongside the Young Avengers, in combat and fought Captain America (Steve Rogers) and Iron Man to a standstill.
- Expert Marksman: He is an extremely accurate marksman. Skilled in sharpshooting and knife throwing.
- Skilled Shield Fighter: Barnes is becoming rapidly proficient with his former partner's shield. He is able to throw it with near perfect aim striking multiple targets in a single throw and achieving a boomerang-like return after throwing it at single person or object.
- Skilled Acrobat: He is an Olympic level athlete and acrobat capable of many difficult acrobatic feats.
- Peak Human Conditioning: Has shown Olympic to possible near peak human level strength, agility, endurance, dexterity, etc.
- Advanced Scout: Barnes is a very gifted scout and adept at stealth and concealment.
- Multilingual: He is fluent in English, Russian, German, Japanese, and a little French. He might be able to speak other languages.
- Expert Spy: He is an expert in the field of espionage thanks largely to World War Two hand-to-hand combat luminaries William Essart Fairbairn and Colonel Rex Applegate, his former partner, Steve Rogers, the United States military, British SAS regiment, and the Russian Government. He is skilled in stealth, demolitions, survival, deducing other persons ways of thinking and other fields.
- Expert Assassin: Barnes is an adept of his generation as Matthew Murdock and Elektra Natchios is of theirs, possibly the most lethal assassin in the Marvel Universe rivaling others such as Bullseye or Elektra. During an operation on the Russian Front with the Invaders, Barnes has from concealment thrown a 60 centimeters-long knife to penetrate the winter uniform outer garment of a German soldier with such accuracy as to pierce his heart in high arctic winds several meters. Barnes has mastered and implemented several methods to silently eliminate sentries with bladed weapons, garrotes or his bare hands, making him as lethal in his own way as his former Invader teammates, the Torches, Union Jack or Namor. He is a master at stealth and tracking and is very intelligent. He was able to render Wolverine's superhumanly acute senses such as smell completely useless by luring him to an abandoned warehouse that was completely soaked on the inside with oil and even soaking himself to make it so that Wolverine could not detect him. Barnes has made a habit out of constantly studying his surroundings and depicting what he can and cannot do in whatever situation he should fall in much like his former partner, Captain America before his death. During Barnes' visit to the Captain America exhibit that had been made to honor him after his death, he was constantly detecting potential ways to sneak in and out of the museum and the room without being detected and only taking out a small number of security to do so. The Black Widow stated to Tony Stark that he was one of the most dangerous men she knew.
Captain America's Shield, a modified hand-gun capable of penetrating even fabric of the thickness and composition of AIM uniforms, a combat knife, and various other mission-special equipment. 'Formerly' (as the Winter Soldier) sniper rifles and various other automatic weapons, (as Bucky) conventional firearms, explosives, combat knives.
A uniform composed of steel mesh and chain mail. 'Formerly' (as the Winter Soldier) body armor, (as Bucky) a bullet proof fabric costume.
An "Indian" motorcycle.