We are all the good kid and the bad boy in this Superhero Sunday with Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier.
James Buchanan Barnes the boy solider and sidekick to Captain America was created by the team Joe Simon and none another than Jack Kirby in March 1941 appearing in Captain America #1. The book was printed by Timely Comics the predecessor to Marvel Comics. The character was created and named simply Bucky at first and was made to be a sidekick for Captain America. Bucky would go on to appear in several teams and stories before his death in the comics until 2005 when Ed Brubaker had a unique way to bring him back.
James Buchanan Barnes born in 1925 in Indiana he was an orphan and was adopted by a solider. James had a love of the army to and help the troops, though underage he snuck his was into the army and would help the troops. One day in 1940 at camp he walked into Steve Rogers tent and saw Steve putting on the Captain America helmet. After some convincing Steve Rogers agreed to train James and let him be a sidekick of sorts. The army agreed to let him fight to help rally the youth of America to support its troops and with Bucky being at the side of Captain America. James changed his name to Bucky after his middle name Buchanan.
Bucky helped Captain America fight the Nazis and was even a scout for a super team known as The Invaders for a brief time. Throughout missions and years Bucky would help defeat Nazis and Hydra. Flash Forward to 1945 and WWII was coming to an end. But Baron Zemo a commander of Hydra had an experimental plane he ridged with explosives to drop on the allies. Both Captain America and Bucky climb the drop plane as it flies over the ocean. They try to disarm the bomb and Bucky fails to do so. The plane explodes sending Captain America to the ocean where he freezes and isn’t discovered til years later. Bucky Barnes was presumed dead from the explosion (he was dead in the comics until 2005).
The Winter Soldier is born in the wake of Bucky’s death or his thought to be death. Turns out Russian soldiers find a frozen body missing an arm and barely alive. Bucky Barnes died that day in the snow and Hydra/Russian secret forces got a new weapon. Bucky would have his mind wiped and get a new metal arm. He was brain washed and turned into an assassin for evil. After missions he would be put in a life preserving chamber until he needed to be used again. The Winter Soldier would be used for years until he was caught up to Captain America in present day and they do battle. Captain America and the Avengers find out who this weapon is/was. Steve Rogers (Captain America) is so torn by this but must save Bucky from what he has become. Steve ends up capturing and Bucky and brings back memories.
Over the years in comics Bucky would have to deal with his dark past as well as find his place in the present without letting the guilt eat away at him. He would join the avengers and become a great hero even taking the mantle of Captain America in Steve Rogers brief absence just after Civil War.
Why this hero?
As Bucky Barnes he is a sidekick that we the readers relate too. I may not be a super solider but I can pretend to fight alongside him. He also was the representation of innocent kid who just wants to be enthusiastic and help the heroes. This only makes his death all the more tragic. His resurrection as a villain is more than a gimmick and only makes the character richer and enriches the Marvel universe with more depth as well as bring a new element for Captain America. This is one of my favorite stories in all of Marvel comics history and it made me see how much you can do with people in costumes.