Okay, if you're still reading this post, that means you've read Fear Itself #3 and/or don't care about reading spoilers... Or you're just confused... Anyway, this is your last chance if you don't want the big, “shocking” event from Fear Itself spoiled for you......... Alright, you've been suitably warned... Fear Itself #3(you can check out my full thoughts on that comic here) ends with Captain America(Bucky Barnes) having his metal arm torn off by the Red Skull's daughter, Sin, followed by Bucky being impaled through the chest by Sin's war hammer. Bucky's allies, Black Widow and the Falcon, arrive at Bucky's body, where Bucky tries to warn them that Sin was working for the Serpent before Bucky and the comic fades to white. So upon first glance, Marvel just killed Bucky off, which in a perverse way makes sense, since we all knew Steve Rogers would be taking back the Captain America mantle to coincide with the upcoming Captain America movie. Hell, anywhere you go, people are treating this issue as if Bucky was dead... It says so on Wikipedia, and if it's on Wikipedia, it HAS to be true, right?!? To that I say not so fast, my friend!
You see, Bucky has morphed into one of my favorite comic book characters, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that thinking. I mean the Captain America series is one of Marvel's better selling titles and Bucky's been the star of that book for a few years now, so it's safe to say he's been enjoying a good, popular second chance at life. Was he ever going to replace Steve Rogers in the hearts and minds of comic fans everywhere and become Captain America? Of course not! Hell, whenever I type up a review with Steve Rogers in it, I have to fight the urge to type “Cap” instead of Steve every time! So Bucky was always going to be a temporary Captain America and Steve was bound to take up the shield again, that's something we all knew. But does that mean Bucky had to die for Steve to decide to become Cap again? While it does make some sense that Steve would become Cap now that Bucky was dead as a way to honor his dead friend, I don't believe that's the case... I say with Bucky near dead from his injuries, Steve can take up the Cap mantle come Fear Itself #4 and take the battle to Sin and the Serpent. Buoyed by the return of the “real” Captain America, Earth's heroes make a comeback and by Fear Itself #7, the Serpent is defeated. From there, Bucky tells Cap that he needs to remain Captain America because the heroes are inspired by Steve as Cap. Bucky goes back to the Winter Soldier costume and calls himself Bucky or Nomad(my personal favorite) and boom, done.
Will Marvel go that route though? It would be WAY easier to just say, “Oh no, Bucky died... We need a Captain America! Oh good, there's Steve Rogers, he'll do it!” While that seems to be the popular thought online from what I read, I'm going to present 3 reasons why I don't think Bucky is dead... These are the three things I'm hanging ALL of my hope on... 1) In Captain America Reborn #6, when Steve Rogers was traveling through time, he sees a glimpse of a dystopian future where he was Cap and Bucky was dressed in his Winter Soldier clothes, meaning Bucky has to survive Fear Itself to set up whatever future Marvel event Steve saw(I'm guessing the Ultron Wars/whatever the Ultron related event Bendis is setting up is called). With Bucky having been outed as the Winter Soldier by Baron Zemo, he could easily go back to the Winter Soldier outfit to try to wash the blood off of it. All he'd need to do is take a different name...(Nomad!) 2) A new Captain America series is starting in July(to coincide with the movie), while the current Cap series is getting renamed Captain America and Bucky... A strange thing to call it if Bucky's dead... After reading the solicitation for the first Cap/Bucky comic, it looks like a flashback to WWII as seen through Bucky's eyes. Of course they could permanently make it a “flashback to WWII series”, but that seems to have a pretty limited shelf life. 3) The solicitation for Fear Itself #3 specifically states, "A major Marvel hero will FALL..." Not die, "FALL"... It seems that if Bucky WAS really dead, Marvel would go out of their way to scream from the rooftops, "Buy this issue, a MAJOR CHARACTER DIES!!!!!" The word "fall" seems kind of like a red herring, you know? If Captain America died in this one, why would Marvel play coy little word games about it? They've never been shy about screaming the word “DIES!!!” out before to try to grab some mainstream press.
There's also one more reason I refuse to believe this comic heralded the end of Bucky... It wasn't written by Ed Brubaker... Brubaker was the man who brought Bucky back from the dead, to the shock of... Well, pretty much EVERY comic fan, he's the man who made Bucky into the Winter Soldier, and he's the man who turned Bucky into Captain America. After putting THAT much work into the character, I just can't imagine a different writer killing Bucky off... Granted, Brubaker and Matt Fraction must have a good working relationship, I know they co-wrote a few comics together(Immortal Iron Fist immediately springs to mind), but still, I just can't see Bucky dying in a comic book without Brubaker's name on the cover... So there you have it, my reasons for Bucky living beyond Fear Itself #3. Will I be proven right in a month's time? I sure hope so, because if this really was the end for Bucky, a rather meaningless death in the grand scheme of super-hero deaths, I'm going to be one angry comic fan this summer! Until next time, X out.