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Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) Reading Order

From the beginning, Captain America wasn’t fighting AXIS alone. He had a sidekick: Bucky. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Bucky made his first comic appearance in Captain America #1 (March 1941) and didn’t leave Cap’s side during the war.

James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes Jr. lost both of his parents when he was quite young. Soon, he was separated from his sister Rebecca and grew up at Camp Lehigh as a ward of the state. There, he became a camp mascot before receiving special training in England.

His life took a turn when he met Steve Rogers and discovered he was Captain America. He joined him in his first mission against Red Skull, then underwent another intensive training program to become the sidekick known as Bucky. With Cap, he fought Nazi operations, joined the Invaders, formed the Young Allies, and more.

Toward the end of the war, Captain America and Bucky Barnes vanished and were declared dead during a classified mission. And it stuck for a very long time. Bucky was part of a very small circle of comic book characters (with Jason Todd and Uncle Ben) known to stay dead.

Like Jason Todd, Bucky was brought back to life. Or more precisely, after a long period of time, it was revealed that he hadn’t died at all. After being retrieved by a Russian submarine, he was brainwashed to become the deadly assassin called the Winter Soldier.

Back among the living, a whole new chapter was being written for Bucky, from the brainwashed killing machine to Captain America and a quest for redemption, and back to the Winter Soldier.

A popular hero in the MCU where he is played by Sebastian Stan, Bucky Barnes is a Golden Age character that has been smartly reinvented in the Modern Age. Below, you’ll find a reading guide exploring Bucky’s history in the Marvel Universe.

Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) Comics Reading Order

Bucky Barnes in the Golden Age of Comic Books

This is a pre-Winter Soldier Reading Order. James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes Jr. is a young Army brat who meets and befriends Steve Rogers in 1941. After accidentally discovering that Rogers is Captain America, he is immediately recruited to be his partner. We wrote a little bit about this Captain America first issue here.

Like Batman and Robin, there was no Captain America without Bucky and he appeared alongside Cap in every story of Captain America Comics. He also appeared in the all-kid team Young Allies, in the anthology All-Winners Comics and in a few more other titles (Kid Komics #2-8 and U.S.A. Comics #6-16 are uncollected).

Don’t hesitate to check out our Captain America Reading Order to know more about Steve Rogers!

Also collected in omnibus:

Captain AmericaCaptain America Comics #25-48 are not collected. For now, at least…
Starting with issue #49, the original Cap and Bucky were replaced.

First introduced in the pages of Captain America, the Sentinels of Liberty quickly became The Young Allies, a group of kids fighting the Axis. The line-up included Bucky Barnes, Toro (Human Torch’s sidekick), and the newcomers Knuckles, Whitewash Jones, Jeff and Tubby. A part of those stories has been collected in the (now out of print) Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Young Allies.

Young Allies Comics #9-16
are not collected anywhere.

Published quarterly, All Winners Comics was an anthology comic featuring Captain America and Bucky, Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch and Toro, and more.

Several series have been published throughout the years, telling stories taking place during the Golden Age:

The Winter Soldier: The Return of Bucky Barnes by Ed Brubaker

For a long time, Bucky Barnes was believed to be dead near the end of the war. It was one of those few comic book deaths that stuck. In 2005, writer Ed Brubaker changed that and make comic history by returning Bucky from his seeming death as the Winter Soldier. Though The Winter Soldier is a good way to mess with Steve Roger’s mind, soon enough things became also quite intense for Bucky as Brubaker puts him through the wringer, exploring his relationship with Steve and Black Widow (see reading order), the meaning of Captain America, and how to take the path of redemption.

Brubaker’s entire run on Captain America has been collected in Omnibuses:

Brubaker’s run is also available on trade paperbacks. During that period, Bucky Barnes became Captain America, joins the New Avengers, and returned as The Winter Soldier:

Civil War Daredevil Reading OrderWe’ve got a Civil War (Reading Order) on our hands! One of the most famous Marvel crossover events of the 2000s. After a catastrophe, the U.S. Government proposed the Superhuman Registration Act. Heroes had to choose between rallying behind either Iron Man’s pro-registration forces or Captain America’s opposition. Though a massive event for Cap with consequences for Bucky, you don’t have to read the full event to understand what’s going on.

Dark ReignFollowing the events of Secret Invasion (see reading order) and the beginning of Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign, Bucky Barnes as Captain America joins the New Avengers during these dark times.

Marvel Siege LogoAnd now, Siege! Coerced by Loki and on the brink of madness, Osborn, in his final bid to take total control, targets the final obstacle in his mission…Asgard. More with the reading order of the event. It’s the end of the Dark Reign Era.

The Winter Soldier in Marvel Now!

Ed Brubaker has finished his run on Captain America and The Winter Soldier. Secret Wars happened. The Marvel Universe was relaunched. It meant a new creative team with Jason Latour and Nic Klein for the last issues of the Winter Soldier volume, followed by a limited series from Rick Remender and the reboot of the Invaders!

Original Sin! Who shot the Watcher? Nick Fury takes the lead of the murder investigation in this self-contained Marvel event (See the complete reading order). Bucky is one of the major players in this story that sets up the next Winter Soldier series.

All-New, All-Different Bucky Barnes

Following the events of Secret Wars, the Marvel Universe was destroyed then relaunched with All-New, All-Different Marvel. Bucky Barnes has no solo title, but became the leader for a short run of the Thunderbolts following the events of Avengers: Standoff.

  • Avengers: Standoff
    Collects Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1, Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2016) #3-4, Uncanny Avengers (2015) #7-8, All-New, All-Different Avengers #7-8, New Avengers (2015) #8-10, Captain America: Sam Wilson #7-8, Illuminati (2015) #6, Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2015) #6, Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega #1.
  • Thunderbolts Vol. 1: There Is No High Road
    Collects Thunderbolts (2016) #1-6.
  • Thunderbolts Vol. 2: No Going Back
    Collects Thunderbolts (2016) #7-12.

Secret Empire Icon 29Secret Empire! Captain America is living a lie! The Cosmic Cube has remade the world’s greatest hero into a secret true believer in the cause of Hydra, wholly dedicated to its mission of progress through authority and unity through adversity! Now, using the trust and respect he’s been accorded by the great powers of the Marvel Universe, Steve Rogers makes Hydra’s ideals a reality – and changes the landscape of the world dramatically! Bucky Barnes doesn’t play a big role until the end of the event (see reading order here). This led to his team-up with Hawkeye in Tales of Suspense.

Winter Soldier in Marvel Fresh Start

the Winter Soldier has a new short series coming from Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis, before being yet again reunited with the Invaders by Chip Zdarsky and Carlos Magno following the events in the pages of Avengers and Defenders: The Best Defense.

War of Realms Logo 72Though Bucky Barnes doesn’t really have a noticeable in War of the Realms, he is a member of the War Avengers (aka Captain Marvel’s Strikeforce) during this massive event. Spinning from the conclusion of this story was the new Strikeforce team with Angela, Blade, Spider-Woman, Wiccan, the Winter Soldier, Monica Rambeau, and Daimon Hellstrom joining forces for a monsterific bloodbath across the realms!

This is Devil’s reign!Daredevil Reading Order Wilson Fisk has risen from Kingpin of Crime to mayor of the biggest city in America. Now he’s making it illegal to be a superhero in NY in Devil’s Reign (see reading order). For Bucky Barnes, it’s mostly an opportunity to steal the information Mayor Fisk has been gathering information on superheroes in Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier #1. His story continues in Captain America #0 and the ongoing title Captain America: Sentinel Of Liberty

Next… A Revolution is Coming! Bucky Barnes team-ups with the mysterious Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine and assemble a team of black-ops heavy hitters to pursue high-profile targets. These are the new Thunderbolts written by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing started in December 2023!

Last Updated on December 13, 2023.