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Bucky Barnes

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The Winter Soldier

"I am ashes where I was once fire."

The Winter Soldier

“A child of chaos, son of darkness, blind coincidence, and absurdity.”

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The Winter Soldier ⍟



"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis



CHARACTER INFORMATION
JAMES BUCHANAN BARNES

“Never trust a survivor, my father used to warn me, until you find out what he did to stay alive.”


Name: James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes / The Winter Soldier
Age/Date of Birth: 28 (90) / March 20, 1925
Aliases: Bucky, Winter Soldier, Zimniy soldat (Зимний Солдат), Vanya (Ваня), Djenya (Дженя), Djeyms (Джеймс).
Occupation: Free Agent. Former Assassin and Soviet Spy. Former Invader, Sniper and Allied Soldier.
Partnerships & Associations: Captain America (former best friend and the Batman to his Nightwing, former mark,) Invaders (former paramilitary unit,) Vasily Karpov (his employer during his time as a brainwashed semi-frozen assassin,) Aleksandr Lukin (the newer old boss.)
Alignment: As Bucky? Neutral-Chaotic Good. As the Winter Soldier? His loyalties and his alignment vary dramatically from moment to moment, but I'd put him at Chaotic Neutral.

Sexuality: Queer spectrum. Doesn't really identify as anything in particular and generally isn't invested in labels he wasn't around to see created. But if he had to pick one, he'd probably pick "queer," because it was actually used by same-sex attracted men back when he was last awake. And before anyone gets on my ass about how it's "direspectful" to the authors if you interpret a character as queer without a clear textual indication, the people who actually made this character disagree with you. Ed Brubaker, who created the Winter Soldier, not only fucking loves it, but has been known to tweet links to fanfiction. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). If you have a problem with interpreting this character as anything other than heterosexual, not only is that problem yours alone, but the character's creator thinks you're stupid. Stop hiding behind authorial intent, and consider why it bothers you so much that someone you thought was straight might not be.

Fandom: Marvel 616
Medium: Comics

Items of Note: Bionic Arm, Weapons, an Attitude Problem, Anna's Love.
PB: Sebastian Stan

PERSONALITY
«Я способен на любовь, которую Вам и не представить, и на гнев, в силу которого Вы не поверите. Если я не смогу удовлетворить одно, то я позволю себе другое.»
Before his life was turned inside out, Bucky was just a dumb punk kid from Indiana. His father was a good man, but he was frequently absent, and because an army stipend isn't much for a family to live on, Bucky was often left to fend for himself. He managed to keep himself and his sister alive (long enough to become wards of the state), but in doing so, he made a habit of getting himself into trouble. Not the sort of do-gooding trouble Steve did, either. Petty larceny, truancy, trespassing, playing ball in the house, those sorts of things. The kind of stuff that they'd call "boys being boys" back in his day, even if it earned you a smack. And though he couldn't stop getting into trouble, he could usually charm his way out of it: being handsome, clever and quick on the draw lent itself pretty well to that sort of skill/personality defect. And it was one that served him well.

In short, Bucky was Aladdin: the well-meaning street rat who frequently resorted to stealing. Steve, by contrast, was Cinderella: the hard-working orphan girl who never complained about her lot in life and gave freely to others despite having very little herself. And that was the thing about Steve Rogers that so appealed to Bucky Barnes. Steve was good in a way that most people didn't know how to be. In a way that most people didn't even understand. That was why Bucky wanted to work with him. Why Bucky, even as a teenager, was sent on covert missions that Cap wasn't part of. Why he'd be called in to take out the guys in the front before they sent in the rest of the unit. Not because Steve needed protection (he really didn't,) but because something in him was worth preserving, both symbolically and otherwise.

There have always been things that Bucky didn't like about himself. Some of them were necessary for a parentless child growing up on an army base during a war, a task which required street smarts and savvy. But within Bucky, there was always a belief that ultimately, he wasn't really a good guy. But Steve was. Steve was a symbol of everything the world could be, and the world needed him to stay that way.

Bucky and Steve are two halves of a whole. Steve is the cornerstone kid of the American cities. Steve, the earnest goodness one has come to expect in someone who wants to protect and serve - and someone who derives meaning from that. Bucky, on the other hand. Bucky who doesn't understand why he is or what he does - only that he must. Even when he was a boy working with the Invaders, there was a darkness in him. A darkness he didn't always understand, that let him pull the trigger where others wouldn't, that felt a private thrill at the flash of a knife or the sound of gun shots. A darkness that had always been there, that he couldn't will away. So he did what any not-good man who valued goodness would do: he decided to use his darkness to help the light shine brighter.

Though it was best exemplified in his battlefield persona, that streak of darkness in Bucky has always been visible in other areas as well. Bucky is a good deal more naturally dry, snarky and cynical than Steve ever was. As a soldier, he developed a taste for black humor, finding things to laugh about in the bleakest of situations, but it's not a habit that always translates well outside of those circles. His jokes -- especially those made at his own expense -- can sometimes elicit a wince from those who don't know him well enough to recognize this for the coping mechanism that it is. Karl Marx once said, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." And Bucky has long since recognized his own life as the perfect illustration of this principle.

In all of his myriad forms, Bucky is a pragmatist, and he excels at making the best of bad situations. His pragmatism is most evident in combat -- he is far quicker to resort to less dignified forms of fighting than most of his fellow fighters, especially the more "just" and "fair-minded" ones. He would have no qualms about playing possum and unloading a full clip in someone's face, pulling someone's hair, or trying some other stunt that most would consider a little unsportsmanlike. (Hey, it's only a bad idea if it doesn't work. It's only cheating if you get caught. And there's no crying in baseball.) He's very confident in his skills and abilities, carrying himself with the weight and severity of someone who knows exactly what he's capable of. But his arrogance is practical rather than delusional. He's sure of his strengths, but he also has the self-awareness to recognize his shortcomings.

His goodness errs on the side of chaotic, but he's actually quite decent and noble. Despite his distaste for authority and his fondness for gaming the system, he's devoted, selfless and patient when the cause (or the person) is right. Having come from nothing, he doesn't need much, and he's generous whenever he can afford to be. But he'll still smack your hand away if you try to snag a bite of his sandwich without asking. He's known for his unfailing loyalty - to America, and to Cap, and he would die a thousand times rather than allow any harm to befall them.

And he has. Like, at least three times.

Here's where it gets complicated.

The Winter Soldier is a different person, but a person not entirely unlike the man that Bucky Barnes once was. He is a Bucky Barnes stripped of history and context, devoid of empathy, removed from everything he once held to be true and dear, but a Bucky Barnes ultimately recognizable as the man underneath the programming. Which is why he finds it so difficult to forgive himself for everything the Winter Soldier did.

As the Winter Soldier, he was a cold, unerring, and ruthless assassin who eliminated his targets without fear or mercy, who showed no qualms about killing in cold blood. Some of it was brainwashing, certainly. But some of that was just Bucky. There was a reason he was chosen for the project - his marksmanship, his experience as a military sniper, his years of combat training, his multilingual fluency, and his calculating battlefield efficacy were all factors, but it was an inborn quality that set him apart. It wasn't that he was cruel, exactly. He didn't derive pleasure from the suffering of others. But he was ruthless. He had always been ruthless. His first kill as the Winter Soldier was far from his first kill.

Brave, efficient and cunning, he was a natural spy long before he donned the red star. Russia didn't teach him to lie, cheat, steal or kill. The army did. His father did. His life did. He was always a dagger, and the Russians weren't the first to discover and exploit it. He is calculating and meticulous in the field, and it is exceedingly rare to get a glimpse behind the mask. Coupled with an utter lack of personal connections -- after the ice, he really couldn't remember anything about who he was or where he came form -- these traits made him the ideal assassin. There's nothing more dangerous than a man who has absolutely nothing to lose.

Traumatic brain injury, along with subsequent brainwashing and repression, all but destroyed his episodic and autobiographical memory. However, his semantic and procedural memories were left untouched. (That is, though he could remember nothing about himself or his life, he retained his knowledge of facts, meanings, and concepts about the external, and he could remember everything he'd learned without knowing why or how he learned it.) This depersonalization made Bucky an excellent undercover operative, up to a point. Having a blank slate to build on made it simple to craft a cover identity, especially one that spoke to Bucky's skills. However, his lack of a well-established identity would eventually become a liability in the field. Without a "new" personality to supplant his old one, constant exposure to familiar environs sometimes brought out elements of Bucky's old self. This problem ultimately led to a ban from stateside missions, and long-term cryo storage between assassinations to halt the spread of his mental deterioration.

But it wasn't just the United States that brought out something new and different in him. Natalia was the first.
Having lived in relative isolation since childhood, Bucky knew next to nothing about loving relationships or how they worked until Natasha came along. And she snuck up on him -- figuratively, though she could sometimes manage it literally, as well. He began by training her, teaching her, knowing her, and ultimately respecting her. Loving her followed naturally, like an exhalation after taking a breath. He tried to fight his feelings, knowing the risk he took in loving her, but he could only deny his affection for so long. Natalia was the only thing in his life, such as it was, that ever made him feel like a whole person. This, ultimately, became a liability in the minds of his soviet handlers. And when their relationship was discovered, the Soviets punished them both in different ways.

As he's come to terms with both sides of himself, he's experienced a lot of guilt, shame and regret. It's been difficult to figure out what this duality means for him going forward. He recognizes that it wasn't his fault that he was kidnapped and brainwashed, but he still feels responsible for the lives that he took, and the satisfaction he derived from being good at it. And ultimately, he isn't so sure that his acts as the Winter Soldier were materially different from his acts as Bucky Barnes. He had killed before. He had once liked to believe that he'd never killed an innocent, that everyone he killed needed to die, that he was doing right by his country and his men. But he's not so sure anymore. He understands now that our beliefs and values are fashioned by the circumstances of our birth, and that morality is often far more relative than the history books make it out to be. He believed that he was doing the right thing when he worked for the US. But he believed it when he was working for the USSR, too.

Ultimately, the greatest source of tension in Bucky now -- and between Bucky and Steve -- is the knowledge that, from childhood, Bucky was made. He was created to be what he is. He was chosen for the life that he lived, first by the Americans, and then by the Soviets. Identified for his talents, trained to improve them, and indoctrinated with a system of beliefs that set him on the path they told him was right. Designed only for killing. After all, Bucky was an orphan, and orphans make the best spies.

He hasn't made a meaningful choice about his life and its direction since he was a child, perhaps even before then. He wanted to follow Cap, but he was too young to really know what he wanted. He wanted to fight, but he grew up on an army based, surrounded by people who taught him that this was what good people did. And then he wanted to die -- has wanted to die so many times since the first time he fell -- but Steve wouldn't let him. Even now, through Fury's machinations, Bucky Barnes is a work in progress, acted upon by forces beyond his control. He's a tool, a collection of parts, an adaptable thing people use to fill their needs in different ways. And he's tired of it.

As of the termination of the Electric Ghost plotline, a few things about Bucky have changed significantly: first, coming out Widow Hunt, Bucky Barnes is a lot more like Nick Fury than Steve Rogers. He's wiling to make the bad call to serve the greater good, and do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Though he treasures Steve's idealism and wants to support him in it, he ultimately can't get behind it. Not like Steve can. That's why Bucky was ultimately the right choice to serve as Nick Fury's replacement: he understands doing what has to be done, even when it hurts him.

Second, Bucky is ready to move on. After losing Natasha, after being presented with a golden opportunity to change the world to suit his vision with the same device that once destroyed his mind by restoring it, Bucky rejected the opportunity. He chose not to change the past, but to do his best to change the future. This is a stark departure from his decision, during Avengers/Invaders, to tell his younger self to let go of the airplane. Bucky is still miserable, he still has days when he wishes Steve had killed him, still has days when he feels like he didn't want or deserve to be saved. But he's made a decision to let himself be. To let himself live. To let himself feel something more than regret, self-loathing, or the weight of responsibility. To stop letting his past crush him. And to stop getting drunk in the bathtub and sending poorly spelled sexts to a landline with the same area code as Natasha's old phone number. Is there such a thing as like a drunk child lock for iPhone? You know what, it's okay, he'll google it.


HISTORY



The Life and Times of Bucky Barnes

James Buchanan Barnes was born in a quaint little shack in Shelbyville, Indiana on March 10, 1925. His mother and father, George and Winifred Barnes, had known each other since childhood, but reconnected when she served as a nurse in an allied hospital looking after a wounded George. A newly married young couple, George and Winifred had not expected to start a family quite so soon, but were no less excited when they learned of Winifred's pregnancy. Several years later, they were pregnant again with a girl -- Rebecca Barnes. Tragically, however, the beginning of Rebecca's life also marked the end of his mother's when Winifred Barnes died shortly after childbirth, leaving the children in the less-than-capable hands of his father.

Sergeant George M. Barnes was underprepared for the challenge of parenting two children alone. He was a good man who did his best, but George had changed a lot after the war and the death of his wife. A drinker and occasional gambler, George was a typical salt-of-the-earth ex-soldier whose life experiences had aged him beyond his years. Without much formal education to fall back on, George worked mostly in manual labor. A combination of his own demons and his shitty work schedule meant that Bucky was often left to take care of himself, even before George's death, but that isn't to say that Bucky felt uncared for or neglected. While he wasn't particularly affectionate, as was typical for men in his day, George loved his children, and never blamed his children for their mother's death - certainly no more than anyone would have. But tragedy struck the Barnes family again when Bucky's father had died in an parachuting accident while in basic training at Camp Lehigh shortly before Christmas in 1937, leaving Bucky and Rebecca orphaned. Rebecca was sent to boarding school. But Bucky, though he was only 12 at the time, 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.

At the age of 16, he met a fellow named Steve Rogers, and developed a weird sort of friendship with this awkward older recruit. He never quite believing that he was as lumbering or incompetent as he acted during training, and was sort of transfixed by his decency. It was a rare quality in a human being, and an exceedingly rare quality in someone whose job was to kill other people before they had a chance to kill you. Steve was, by all accounts, a positive influence on the kid who seemed to follow him around like a lost baby duck. But it wouldn't be until the following Spring that the two became a dynamic duo.

Despite several mediating influences, by the time he was a teenager, Bucky had become something of a delinquent. He regularly started fights around camp and began a profitable business smuggling in contraband. Everyone looked the other way until the night of his 17th birthday when he managed to get drunk at the enlisted club and got into a fight, knocking out two sailors and breaking the wrist of an MP. Following this incident, Major Samson, decided it was best to ship James off to England for special combat training under the United States military and the British S.A.S.. The intent was to groom James into the ideal soldier, giving him a practical outlet for the energy he was wasting and teaching him some semblance of discipline. And Samson, an old friend of Bucky's father, really didn't want to see the kid slip through the cracks. If it worked, Bucky would serve as the model for a program they hoped would counter the Hitler Youth in Nazi Germany.

Funny story. Despite that whole "awesome spy training" thing, his partnership with Captain America was sort of an accident. Or possibly it was engineered from the get go, and Bucky just didn't know it. Hell, maybe his kinship with Rogers was why they picked him. Anyway. He'd only just gotten back from bootcamp when he stumbled into the wrong tent and saw something that every American woman would have given her eyeteeth to see: a half-naked Steve Rogers changing into his Captain America uniform. After responding with a litany of enthusiastic 40s era slang words that I can't repeat here and still take myself seriously, Bucky did what any thrill-seeking 17-year-old would do: he begged Cap to take him with him. And when Cap said no, he just fucking followed him anyway.

Cap was reluctant to take on a sidekick who was young and green -- not quite 18, and fresh out of basic -- but Bucky was stubborn, and he was ready for action. Though he was young for the service, Bucky was very fit lean and wiry from years of doing without, sporting the sort of muscles you'd expect to see on a kid who lived on a base and ran through training with each set of new recruits. Angular cheekbones and a jaw like a hacksaw also lent his face a hard quality, furthered by weatherbeaten skin from harsh Indiana winters. Still, he retained the physical hallmarks of youth in his dimples, his stature and his boyish demeanor. It took some doing, but eventually, Bucky convinced both Steve and the military to let him serve in Steve's band of Invaders. After all, what better propaganda could there be for America's youth than Cap's fresh-faced young sidekick?



Invaders Must DIe!

Thus, James became Captain America's partner Bucky and participated in the majority of Captain America's adventures throughout World War II. While the purpose of Bucky was ostensibly to counter the Hitler Youth, Bucky's value to Steve came in being what the isolated Super-Soldier what he needed most: a friend. As Bucky said, “Sometimes I think if you didn’t have me, there wouldn’t be a single person in the world who truly understood you”.

However, there was also a darker truth underneath this, one that Cap understood. Steve Rogers got to be the one in a million guy, the inspirational newsreel Nazi-puncher, always paying lip-service to the grunts who fought and died alongside him, but the weight on Bucky's shoulders was of a different nature. Bucky served a covert agent to carry out darker parts of missions that would otherwise tarnish the symbolic nature of Captain America's character. “Bucky did the things I couldn’t. I was the icon. I wore the flag… But while I gave speeches to the troops in the trenches… He was doing what he’d been trained to do… and he was highly trained.” His worth lay not in being the light to Cap’s shadow, but the shadow to his light.

The boys' tendency to play off each other -- and their desire to impress each other -- found many a new and dangerous outlet in the battlefield. They spent a little time testing each other out, trying to navigate the new dynamic between them, but they didn't have long to work things out before they were off to fight some Germans. One of Bucky's first missions with Captain America was stopping Nazi saboteurs from destroying a train. For their success, they were thanks personally by President Franklin Roosevelt. Bucky was left behind when the president was kidnapped, forcing Captain America to go after him and rescue Roosevelt.

At some point, Bucky and Steve were deployed with the other Invaders to take down HYDRA's latest efforts to win the war, Zemo's Virus X. A chemical weapon Zemo had developed to wipe out the Allied forces. However, Steve and Bucky managed to stop Zemo from releasing the virus. During the battle, however, Zemo himself was exposed to Virus X, disfiguring him and... I guess making him immortal? It's a bit weird. Throughout the war, Steve and Bucky would continue to face off against Germany's own attempt at a Super Soldier, the Red Skull. He was exposed to a Super Serum that was much like Steve's but had horrible side-effects, including turning his head into basically... a giant red skull.

The propaganda literally wrote itself.

They spent the rest of the war doing stuff with a bunch of different groups of people. Like, enough that it's surprising the war only lasted like 3 years after the Americans joined. Like how can you even have that many team ups. It was to WWII what M*A*S*H was to the Korean war in that respect. They met Logan, with whom Bucky did not immediately get along, and spent a lot of time with Namor, which -- why would anyone ever do that. But anyway. Alongside the rest of the Invaders crew, the boys stomped their way across Europe, making quite an impression on the American people and cementing their places in history.

In 1944, the Invaders infiltrated a castle that was under HYDRA control in Norway looking for the Red Skull. Once inside, they realised that Red Skull and HYDRA's plan was to open a portal to the Bifrost (the Rainbow Bridge) and capture mythical creatures from Asgard to use on the battlefield to tip the scales in their favor. But Captain America stops him with a lot of hard punching, and sent the creatures that the skull had captured back to Asgard. While Bucky and Steve were preoccupied trying to send the Asgardian creatures home, Red Skull made a run for it.

Steve, as soon as he was able, told Bucky to stay where he was and went after the Skull, but Bucky didn't listen and the two climbed aboard the Skull's plane. Because fuck you, we're partners. What they didn't know was that Red Skull was planning a thing and planted a bomb. Once Cap was close, Skull ejected himself from the cockpit and left Bucky and Steve to die in the explosion. As Bucky got his leg stuck to the ladder, Rogers tried to free him from the bars. Bucky though, knowing that Rogers wouldn't leave him, said the world needs Captain America more than Bucky, and kicked Steve in the face to knock him off the plane. Bucky's last moment was saluting Cap as he felt the plane rip apart at the seams, bursting into a final fireworks display to hail the passing of Captain America.

He died a hero.




Just Kidding!

Unbeknownst to the Americans, Bucky (minus one arm) was found and revived by Russian General Vasily Karpov. While Russian groups were liberating Germany, one such group, lead by Karpov, came across the preserved body of Bucky Barnes. When Bucky awoke, his head trauma meant that he had sizable gaps in his memory - gaps which were, of course, immediately exploited and worsened by some intensive soviet brainwashing. The combination of brainwashing and head trauma gave Karpov an opportunity to reprogram Bucky as a Soviet assassin using his new codename, the Winter Soldier.

And fortunately for Russia, America had not managed to snap up all of the good Nazi war criminal scientists in the aftermath of WWII. One such former Russian scientist recognized Bucky as the subject of wartime HYDRA experiments to replicate the Super Soldier Serum, and was able to continue their work under the patronage of the Russian military. Soon, he outfitted with a replacement bionic arm after a Soviet spy had recovered schematics for cybernetic appendage, which was to be replaced by a newer and more advanced one every time there was an improvement in their technology. His traumatic brain injury had destroyed his episodic and autobiographical memory while leaving his semantic and procedural memories -- along with his considerable physical skill -- intact. This combination of latent talent and depersonalization made Bucky a blank slate onto which any number of cover identities could be imprinted. He was indoctrinated to hate the West, and with a combination of training and dangerously experimental drugs, the Winter Soldier was soon mission-ready.


As the Winter Soldier, he was sent all across the globe, committing political assassinations with huge effects on the Cold War. And when no one needed killing (immediately), he skills were put to use as a trainer for the Black Widow program. It was during this period that he met Natalia Romanova, a gifted young Widow whom he schooled in combat while she was undergoing espionage training. He never set out to fall for her -- the cost of doing anything that went against their handlers' instructions was much too high -- but the two quickly fell in lover. Despite her pending nuptials to another Russian agent, James often snuck into her sleeping quarters just so he could see her: a move he probably should have realized was signing his own death warrant. When their relationship was discovered, the Winter Soldier was wiped of his memories and placed into cryogenic stasis at one of Karpov's facilities. Natasha, believing the Winter Soldier to be worse than dead, was married off to a member of the KGB. Bucky lost his memory of their romance, and with it, what it was like to feel human again.

But that wasn't enough to stop what had already begun. As soon as the cracks in his programming began to show, they started spreading. Though it was originally believed that his instability was triggered only by strong emotion, familiar environments brought out the same effects. Following a successfully mission in the States, Bucky suddenly went black. After escaping from several extraction attempts by killing his handlers, he boarding a bus to Chicago and started living in a flophouse. When he was found several weeks later, it took several teams to subdue him the erratic and unstable operative. Although he never seemed to fully grasp the reality of who he was, the incident ultimately resulted in the Winter Soldier's absolute ban from missions in the continental United States, and drastically decreased his utility. With this fear in mind, he was moved back into long term storage, and was only brought out for missions that demanded an agent of his expertise.

He was briefly revived in the 80s to serve as a personal guard/pet to Vasily Karpov, who had come to develop a sort of fondness for this pitiful joke on the Americans that he'd perpetuated since the Soldier's inception. Upon Karpov's death, however, the Winter Soldier was decommissioned and put into deep stasis. Because his implants were no longer fully operational, he could no longer be sent on missions to America, which limited his usefulness as a deep cover agent considerably. He was forgotten about and left to the elements.

Years later, the facility (containing Bucky) was eventually inherited by his protégé, General Aleksander Lukin.



Who the Hell is Bucky?

In truth, SHIELD wouldn't have even known about Winter Soldier if not for Lukin's decision to recommission the Soldier after years of suspended animation -- part of a plot to manipulate and destroy the American economy from within. And one that might have been successful, if he hadn't just flippantly killed Red Skull in the process, but it would have been difficult to work around that. Since killing the Red Skull, Winter Soldier was ordered to fuck with Cap's mind, kill Jack Monroe and launch a major terrorist attack on the city of Philadelphia. Plans that were ultimately cut short by, well, Steve.

Steve, who beat him to the punch. Steve, who knew who he was, who found him, who tried to make him remember with words, and succeeded with a device that brought his life flooding back. That made him remember who he was -- everything he was -- and everything he'd ever done.

Steve wanted to give Bucky his life back. But what Bucky got was worse than death. What Bucky got was 70 years of torture and brainwashing at the hand of his Russian captors that stripped him of his memories, his identity, his humanity. What Bucky got was a killer instinct, a constant sense of terror, a mind that could barely focus through the noise of confusing, disconnected thoughts and ideas that rush through it unchecked. What Bucky got was a metal arm to compliment the killing machine that they'd turned him into. Was blood on his hands, staining the grooves of his metal fingertips and soaking into his skin, into his bones. And he got to remember every second of that.

So he smashed the cube. And it destroyed him.

Or it seemed, to, anyway. You may begin to notice a theme here.

Back in the US(SR?)

Instead of exploding to death again, this time, Bucky actually uses the cosmic cube to spirit himself away and go underground to search for Lukin and Red Skull and crazy murder them. While he's out wandering the world looking for revenge and briefly chilling with Wolverine, he takes a brief side mission to help Steve smash up some robots. It's the first time in more than half a century that the two have had a chance to work together, but Bucky doesn't stay for the after party. Seeing Steve again after all this time when he's still, you know, super fucked up is weird, and he's just not that into it. Instead he runs off to call his new boss, Nick Fury, who just seemed like the right guy to team up with when you're on a self-destructive Hydra revenge mission with lots of high-powered weapons. And since they're both on the run, well. They have lots in common.

The Christmas before everything went to hell, Barnes spent his night hanging out with the Young Avengers, and had a nice heart-to-heart with Patriot while learning that he was really, really behind on socially acceptable terms for men who lack adequate fighting capabilities. I mean, it was a lot like any christmas dinner with your out of touch grandfather. If your out of touch grandfather is like 28 and hot. During that time, he also got to have a fun chat with Namor (possibly the only one ever had) and casually foreshadow the return of Toro.



Everything Awful (Oh God Someone Do Something)

Civl War sucked for everyone, but it especially sucked for Team Cap. As things tend to do when your fearless leader, long time icon and only friend is savagely murdered on the courthouse steps. While Sharon has the dubious distinction of person it sucked for the most, Bucky probably comes in second. Unless what comes next makes him third, just trailing behind Tony Stark.

Following Captain America's apparent death, Bucky decided to do what any logical assassin would do: kill the men responsible, the Red Skull and then-SHIELD Director Tony Stark. After beating Black Widow in hand to hand combat as she was trying to move Cap's shield to a second location, Bucky take possession of the shield and goes after Lukin, who turns out to be Red Skull. He's captured by Skull's men -- thanks a lot, trigger words -- and briefly subjected to a brainwashing attempt before he's rescued by Falcon and his fellow detainee, Sharon Carter.

He was admitted into SHIELD custody -- presumably because you can smell crazy vengeance on him -- but escaped in short order and went after Tony Stark. Using an EMP to disable his armor, Bucky fought Tony to a stand still before Tony stopped long enough to share Steve's last request: that Tony rescue Barnes from his descent into violence and insanity, and that he keep the Captain America identity alive through a successor. Tony, who is insanely forgiving when it comes to attempted murder, thought the best way to honor both of those requests was to make Bucky the new Captain. And Barnes agreed on the condition that his mind be cleansed of any remaining mental implants, and that he would answer to no one, not even Stark or SHIELD.



Don't Call me Bucky Cap

Having now agreed to carry on the Cap mantle, Bucky took up residence in Steve's SHIELD safe house and hooked himself up with a nifty Cap Costume that is really shiny when some people draw it for some reason? I don't know what it's supposed to be made of, but it's like way shinier than a normal costume. Anyway. Carrying Steve's shield and a variety of other weapons that he does not understand why the other Avengers won't take with them, he was quickly presented with opportunities to prove himself.

Although he was an excellent fighter, a good tactician, and also much hotter than average, Bucky was not immediately accepted by the government, the public, or even some of the old Avengers. Clint Barton in particular did not like his outfit, which seems a little petty, but I guess I can see why he'd object. There was not a drop of purple in the whole thing. Recognition was an uphill battle, but Bucky kept fighting as Captain America, now with the assistance of Sam Wilson despite Sam's serious initial reservations about him. The two teamed up to fight AIM before finding themselves, yet again, on Red Skull's radar. For their efforts, they got to meet Red Skull's new friend, the Grand Director: a brainwashed fucked up whackadoo that Doctor Faustus had led to believe that he was the one true Steve Rogers. In perhaps the least Steven-Rogersian move of all time, the Grand Director beat the living shit out of Bucky, and Bucky barely made it out of there alive. The Grand Director escaped from Red Skull, they followed him out, and eventually foiled that crazy motherfucker's evil plans or whatever. It was a whole thing.

Shortly thereafter, Bucky was finally recognized by the United States government and the public as a hero after foiling an assassination attempt on a bunch of political candidates as plotted by Sin, daughter of the Red Skull. During this time, he also fell back into his his old Cold-War-time romance with Black Widow, one of the few people he knew and liked who was still alive and wanted to talk to him. All his friends are dead :|. Because stuff does not slow down in comic book land for even a second, this as about the time when the Skrulls invaded, giving Bucky another fun opportunity to fight super powered beings that could probably kill him by stepping on him. In the spirit of Steve Rogers, Bucky invited Clint Barton and the rest of the New Avengers to take up residence in his safe house, offering it as a base of operations and giving them his help. Also he didn't realize there was a baby living there. Even though it was there for a long time.

And things, for a while, settled into a sort of equilibrium. Some people still didn't believe that Bucky was good, or that he deserved this second chance at making things right, but most people didn't seem especially vocal about it. For a while, everything was fine.


The Cap Came Back, You Thought He Was a Goner...

SURPRISE. Captain America was never dead.

Which... is good, really, but -- Jesus. You're back from the dead for like 5 minutes and suddenly death doesn't exist anymore.

On the one year anniversary of Steve Rogers' death, Bucky and the rest of the A-Team attended a vigil in Steve's honor. While there, they noticed as Norman Osborn and his fake Avengers in the crowd, which is weird. After the vigil, he runs into Sharon, who has some weird news. Steve Rogers hadn't been killed, but trapped in a fixed position in time and space, and since Sharon ruined the machine that was suppose to bring him back, Steve was stuck reliving his own past in what was undoubtedly the shittiest possible retelling of Groundhog Day to ever exist. After a failed attempt to steal back the device from the Osborn-led HAMMER in which Bucky and Nat were captured, Osborn sent Widow to give Sharon an ultimatum: turn yourself in for Cap's shooting, or Bucky is going to bite the big one. Fortunately, Bucky was rescued in an incident that will always be remembered as the only useful thing that Ant-Man has ever done.

Through some weird shenanigans involving comic book science and Sharon Carter, the Red Skull pulled Steve Rogers back to the present, putting his own mind inside Steve's body. Bucky and the rest of the Avengers chased the Skull down in the Avengers' Quinjet, but they were shot down and landed in DC. As the Avengers fought off the Skull's forces, Bucky goes after Red Skull, hoping that Steve was still in there somewhere. This hunch proved to be right as Steve was able to force Red Skull out of his mind using the power of love. Steve, Bucky, and the Avengers beat the Red Skull once and for all. And Sharon got to be a free elf.

With Steve back (from outer space), Bucky was presented with a difficult choice to make: maintain the new identity that has gotten him this far, and given him the sense of purpose that he sorely needed, or give the mantle up in favor of the now-revived Steve Rogers. He decided to give it back, but before giving it up, Bucky and Natasha decided to suit up and throw the shield around one more time. Steve, who was also out and ready to patrol that night, saw them leave the apartment and decided to follow them. Which isn't weird at all. Watching the two fight together, Steve realize that being Captain America is really good for Bucky, and that Bucky is really good at it. After their brief battle with some evil henchmen concludes, Rogers officially and respectfully hands the Captain America mantle over to Bucky, giving Barnes his blessing.

For some reason, the artists for this scene felt the best way to convey the emotional significance of the moment was to draw some low angle shots of Steve's ass. Which, honestly, I'm fine with. You do you, guys.


Siege Things are Happenin' to Me

When the Avengers found out about Osborn's Siege on Asgard, Bucky joined together with Steve Rogers and the rest of the New Avengers and decided to go kick his ass all the way to kingdom come. This gives us a very exciting ~double Cap~ event (what does it mean??) in which both men don the uniform. Before heading out, Bucky told Steve that if he was going to be Captain America one last time and take his country back, he'd better have his shield, so they switch. Which is fine, Bucky's always been better with guns anyway.

Iron Man showed up and shut Norman's armor down, but then the Sentry shows up again and brings Asgard crashing into the ground. Bucky survived, beat Crossfire, and met back up with Steve to help some dudes who needed saving. It was all very heroic. With help from Loki (of all people), Bucky and the other Avengers defeated the Void him with the help of the Norn Stones, and Steve gave Bucky the shield back, telling him that the world only needs one Captain America, and that person is Bucky. After heading out, the team captures like 80 other bad guys who were tangentially associated with Norman Osborn before they head back to Avengers Tower and celebrate with Olive Garden, probably.



Do You Prefer "Fake Cap"?

Bucky decided to stay on as Cap for a while longer, had various adventures, etc. He ran into some weird shit with the whole Wolverine Weapon X Possibly Future Self Assassin thing. Basically a general from the future tries to kill wolverine or something, and then they decide to kill current Captain America, which (duh) is Bucky. Obviously he does not succeed. Since Bucky is here for the rest of this history section.

He also gets to hang out with 50s cap -- AKA Bad Cap -- who's currently leading a band of trainees in a training camp for a terrorist organization known as the Watchdogs. Bucky went under cover, but Bad Cap identified him pretty much immediately, and forced him to dress up in an old "Bucky" uniform to fulfill some weird WWII fetish as they headed to the Hoover Dam, where 50s Cap plans blow the place up. Bucky and Falcon escape and fight the watchdogs, and Bucky seems to kill Bad Cap. Except that Bad Cap actually survived, and nobody knows where he went. That probably won't come back to haunt him, right?

He doesn't take the whole Bad Cap thing super well, and during his brief sadness spiral, he gets injected with weird drugs that make him crazy. He fights some police guys while he's nuts and it ends up on the news, which isn't great. Also he gets kidnapped by Zemo or something and almost kills him, but doesn't. Seems like a wasted opportunity.



The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Bears

Less fun was when Baron Zemo exposed Mr. Barnes as the Winter Soldier. Steve Rogers, convinced that the entire trial would be nothing but a media circus, tried to get Bucky to run, but Bucky decided to face the music. He turned himself into the authorities and was put on trial for the crimes he committed as Winter Soldier. As Bucky's trial was underway Black Widow and the Falcon capture Dr Faustus so he can defend Bucky, and find evidence that Bucky was under the influence of mind control, but were captured by the Red Skull for their efforts. Meanwhile, at Bucky's trial, a man attacks Bucky with an AIM weapon and hands off a demand: Black Widow and Falcon will be killed if Bucky isn't delivered to Sin. Bucky wanted to go, but the Judge forbid it, so he escaped with the aid of Dr Faustus. Though he managed to free Widow and Falcon with the help of Cap and Sharon, Sin managed to escape. Apparently her whole plan was to get Bucky to come hang out with her for a minute so she could blow up the statue of liberty's eye for some reason. The gang heads back to the court house where lets Bucky off. Not guilty by reason of Soviet brainwashing.

But then Russian officials showed up to take Bucky back to Russia where he had been convicted of crime against the state. He was then extradited and imprisoned in Russia. Bucky was brought to the Gulag as a plot by Colonel Andre Rostov (Red Barbarian) to extract information from his mind regarding the location and activation codes for three additional sleeper agents that were trained by Bucky and hidden within the United States. Also this is where Bucky fights bears in a Russian Gulag. It's awesome.

He was stuck there fighting super powered whack jobs and bears and shit until, while fighting Titanium Man or somebody, he maneuvered himself in front of the methane tanks. His opponent blows them up, destroying much of the Gulag. Black Widow rescues him from the burning wreckage, Captain America does damage control with the general public, and it mostly seems to work out. But the aftermath is that everyone thinks Bucky has been too thoroughly tarnished to stay on as Captain America any longer. This isn't really resolved before we segue into the next big show down.



... And Fear Itself

Bucky returned to the States as Captain America, and then they started having problems with Asgard. During Fear Itself, Skadi led an attack on Washington, D.C., where Bucky Cap was waiting for her. Though he stood in her way without so much as a shred of super strength, she kicked his ass. Like he was not prepared for this. Skadi beat him within an inch of his life. She ripped off his bionic arm and impaled him with the shaft of her hammer. Before passing out, he told Natasha to warn people about the Serpent, and the other heroes used this information to save the day in various ways. Except Tony who went out and got shitfaced and THEN saved the world, but anyway.

Bucky was rushed to Nick Fury, who supplied Barnes with what remained of his infinity formula. His life was saved, his youth and good looks are restored, but presumably under Fury's suggestion, Barnes recognized his apparent death as a good career opportunity. He decided to stay underground and resume his work as the Winter Soldier, letting the Avengers believe that he had passed during the fray. His LMD was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.

And in a much happier ending, Nick Fury told to Steve that Bucky was not killed by Sin during the events of Fear Itself. So Captain America punched Nick Fury right in his smug face. Steve was pissed that he was left in the dark, but Fury told him that it had to be this way. After the trial and the Gulag, nobody could know that Bucky was alive. And now that he's dead, he can keep being a bad ass.



We're Hunting Widows

While Bucky and Natasha are preoccupied like, saving Latveria and hanging out with Doom or whatever, Leo Novokov, a Soviet sleeper agent trained by Winter Soldier himself, woke up from stasis with a super hate boner for Bucky. Like Bucky, he was put into stasis and used for missions, only taken out when they had use for him. It took him years to remember what happened, but once he did, he held Bucky responsible. Presumably because another random character trying to fuck up the Red Skull wouldn't have been as interesting.

Leo managed to capture and brainwash the Black Widow, and uses the old Soviet programming techniques to brainwash Natasha into thinking she’s actually been a Russian mole or years. Her first act was to try to kill Nick Fury, but really, that seems like something someone would do without Russian brainwashing. With the woman he loves turned against him, Bucky desperately tries to find Leo and Natasha, enlisting the help of some old friends. (Winter Soldier: now with 100% more Wolverine!)

When Bucky finally closes in on Natasha and Navokov, he's given a choice: be implanted with a mission of Novokov's, or risk losing Natasha forever. He takes the implant, which returns him to his Winter Soldier persona an sets him on another shitty mission to do something awful. And forcing the rest of his team up gang to divert from their original mission long enough fix him until Cap shows up and does his Cap thing.

In the end, Bucky and Black Widow have an all out brawl, with Bucky trying to save her and Widow trying to kill him. She's ultimately subdued, but not without significant personal cost to both of them. Leo's ultimate revenge on The Winter Soldier is to erase everything the Widow knew about Barnes including her emotions for him. Essentially ending their, for the most part, well written romance. A partial lobotomy if you will. Their relationship is now effectively over, and Natasha doesn't remember shit about it.

Unless I hear from a reliable source that he has stopped using female characters solely as the objects of deep angst for male characters who then make decisions for them, I am done with Ed Brubaker.

Fortunately, at this point, so is Winter Soldier. ~Enter Latour.~



You Kinda Feel It, It's Electric

After losing Natasha, a broken and beaten Winter Soldier embarked anew on the Croatian leg of his apology tour, where the crowd was tough but the bar was stocked. But while Bucky tried to make peace with his past, a villain from his future was out for blood. Some weird floating woman starts dispatching SHIELD Super-Seals to better focus on her target: The Winter Soldier.

So, of course Nick Fury comes around to set Bucky on a better path. A path to space. A path with assassins. A pace that will ultimately lead to space assassins and Anna canceling her subscription to this title because ????.

But not yet.

With his weird sidekick in tow, a double agent even more grizzled than Fury named “Joebards” who packs a HYDRA knuckleduster, Bucky wades into his dark past, visiting a treacherous school for young assassins — The Orphanage. Which is where they find out about Tesla Tarasova, and the Winter Soldier mission that inadvertently created her. Tesla, orphaned by the Winter Soldier, had been taken to “The Orphanage” and used by her superiors over and over until she deviated from their orders, and was abandoned. Left with nothing but her assassinated Father’s cosmic ray research, which she advanced considerably. Tesla Tarasova created something akin to a cosmic cube, a tool called the Tarasova tesseract that enables her to build a bridge toward space and time and to destroy it if needs be. With the power of the Tarasova Tesseract, she tried to kill those who wronged her, to end S.H.I.E.L.D., and A.I.M. and HYDRA.

In a scene that mirrors that Avengers/Invaders storyline with Bucky Cap several years earlier, Bucky is presented with an opportunity that would be very difficult not to take advantage of: a chance to rewrite his history. He could save Black Widow from being brainwashed, save himself from his death and everything that came after, bring back the people he's lost since. But he refuses, stating that he believes in moving forward and to letting the past be the past. (Although pretty much his whole life and every second of every title has been Bucky being caught up in the past and reliving every shitty thing he did while he was the Winter Soldier. So, grain of salt.)

“You can’t fix the past, Tesla. You can only search for the strength to change the future.”



That Shit With the Eyeballs

Basically, this is where Bucky becomes the New Fury. I mean, really, he's kind of manipulated into becoming the New Fury. Nick rounds up a bunch of heroes by telling them that they're investigating the death of Uatu, the watcher, when really it's a complicated ploy to reveal his activities as "the Man in the Wall" (the secret first line of defense against space invaders) and push Bucky into being his replacement.

When he realized that he'd been lied to, Bucky straight up beheads Nick Fury's LMD, which is awesome, and uses that to track down the actual Nick Fury, who is now super old. Apparently Bucky used up the last of his infinity formula. Also at some point we find out that Dum Dum Dugan has been an LMD this whole time, which explains a lot. So Fury closes himself up in a room with an eyeball, confronts the heroes, has a big Fury LMD vs. Avengers boss battle, and ultimately blows shit up in a big crazy final showdown where he seems to become the next watcher or something. I guess because he killed the last one, being a Watcher operates under the same basic principles as The Santa Clause.

Bucky Barnes: SPACE ASSASSIN

After Fury's apparent death in the explosion which killed Doctor Midas, the Winter Soldier took his place as the Man in the Wall. Because all explosions lead to Bucky Barnes career changes.

Either before this or during this, somehow, he also finds time to hang out with Natasha. The timeline doesn't make sense, but with Marvel, it never does.

And then one day, he woke up here.

This might as well happen.
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Bucky is an Olympic-class athlete, an exceptional acrobat, and an extremely accurate marksman. He is also a dangerously skilled martial artist and hand-to-hand combatant. He received training from combat luminaries in multiple martial arts, and was trained in more of them while being molded into an assassin by the Soviet Union. He has single-handedly beaten just an insane number of people with varying degrees of super powers and combat proficiencies, and has fought other powered individuals to a stand still.

He is an expert in the field of espionage, skilled in stealth, demolitions, survival, deducing other persons ways of thinking and other fields. Barnes is possibly the most lethal assassin in the marvel universe. 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. He is a master at stealth and tracking and is very intelligent. 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 into. He is also fluent in four languages including German and Russian, and is conversational in French.

Thanks to some crazy experimental science nonsense conducted on Bucky first when he was captured by HYDRA and subsequently when he became the pet project of General Vasily Karpov, Bucky's longevity and his aging process has been enhanced. Aside from that (and 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. Of course, this has something to do with the fact that he's packing a lot more fire power than the rest of the super hero crew.

WEAPONS:
A modified hand-gun capable of penetrating even fabric of the thickness and composition of A.I.M. uniforms, a combat knife, and various other mission-special equipment. Various sniper rifles and various other automatic weapons. He also has a bionic left arm that affords him some additional skills and abilities, and wears a bulletproof uniform.

Bionic Arm:
  • Superhuman Strength -- Has some superhuman strength in his bionic arm.
  • Enhanced Reaction Time -- His arm's reaction time is greater than that of any Olympic athlete who has and will ever compete.
  • 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 control his bionic arm even if it has been removed from his body (by use of cybernetic implants), and 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 its palm.
  • EMP -- He can discharge an EMP rendering electronic devices useless. (source: marvel wikia)

WEAKNESSES:
Nothing. The Winter Soldier is fucking invincible. WINTER IS COMING, MOTHER FUCKERS. WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE!

Just kidding. Not about dead things never dying - that's mostly correct, if debatable in Bucky's case. But about Bucky having no weaknesses. I was going to say that his greatest weakness was "friendship," but that joke seemed a little too ridiculous until i realized that it was pretty accurate. Then I just got sad. At present, his weaknesses include being mortal, erratic moods, and some degree of psychological bull shit caused by brainwashing and frequent cryogenic freezing. Also crushing guilt, existential crises and rash decision-making.

Also the inside of his brain looks a lot like this.

In terms of actual combat weaknesses, his mortality is probably the most notable. He has every weakness that any other fleshy pink human would have, just slightly less of whatever that weakness is because he's in remarkable physical shape, and he wears a bulletproof uniform. He's no less susceptible than any non-powered person to the effects of poison, head shots, suffocation, strangulation, being crushed by large objects, explosions, and various other forms of murder than anyone else. Assuming you can get the jump on him, of course. I mean, he's still an assassin, so good luck with that. Close range is probably not your friend if you're fighting Bucky, unless you've got some super powers.
OOC INFORMATION
Name: Anna
Email: thebittermarch@gmail.com
AIM: captainamericanna
GChat: same as email
Timezone: EST
CDJ: [info]hansolo

Footnotes:
1. Bluebeard, Kurt Vonnegut
2. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. Trans. by Rebecca's Russian roommate.

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Apr. 23rd, 2015 12:09 am (UTC)

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