Captain America and Bucky Barnes haven't had it easy. Both have made great sacrifices for their country since they first dressed in costumes and began fighting evil forces. In the 40s it appeared both made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. Captain America was found decades later by the Avengers and began his fight once again.
It was some years when Captain America discovered the horrible truth about his partner Bucky. Bucky hadn't died all those years ago. It turned out a Russian submarine had found his body, which was only missing one arm. With no memory of who he was, Bucky was transformed into the assassin known as the Winter Soldier. Kept frozen cryogenically between missions, Bucky had only aged a few years until his encounter with Captain America.
Bucky overcame his programming and regained his memories (with Cap's help and a cosmic cube). He even took on the mantle of Captain America when the Red Skull launched his attack that made it seem as if Cap had been killed. When faced against the Red Skull's daughter, Sin, possessed by an evil Asgardian spirit, Bucky paid the ultimate price once again. A recent Marvel teasers asked the question, "What if there was more than one?" With the solitary red star on the teaser and with seeds planted in the Captain America series by Ed Brubaker, it looks as if Cap might be facing some other 'Winter Soldiers.'== TEASER ==
Bucky returning from the dead is inevitable but most likely won't happen any time soon. Bucky's body was found and examined by Russian scientists in 1945 in the hopes that he had the Super Soldier Serum in his body. Despite having no memories, he still retained his muscle memories and could move and fight as before. He was kept frozen until 1954 when Project Winter Soldier began. Bucky was fitted with a bionic man and programed to serve their agenda. Passing as an American, the Winter Soldier was able to cross 'enemy lines' and complete his assassination missions. In 1957 it was noted that he was started to get more curious, perhaps trying to fill the gaps in his memory. This was the main reason he was kept in stasis in between missions.
With all the work the Russian government put into creating him, it would be surprising if they didn't have other candidates in mind for the Winter Soldier Program. They would need suitable subjects but only having one soldier would be like putting all your eggs in one basket. Sending out their only soldier and risking him getting killed or captured would be too high of a risk. They might not have had anyone as skilled as Bucky was but it would makes sense if there were some back ups being stored somewhere.
The more likely scenario has to do with something known as Project Zephyr (mentioned in Captain America #619). When Bucky was held in a Russian gulag, it turned out that he held the secret of the project locked in his brain. Enhanced sleeper agents had been created during the Cold War. Bucky, brainwashed as the Winter Soldier, helped train them. He trained them on advanced weaponry, hand-to-hand fighting, improvised explosives and most importantly, how to act like Americans. They were never used because the Cold War had ended and they remained frozen in sleep chambers in their secret location.
The warden at the gulag, Colonel Rostov, set things in motion to get his hands on Bucky. Bucky was the only one left that knew how to awaken the sleeper agents. It was Rostov's goal to use these human weapons of mass destruction for his retirement fund as he has seen enough destruction in his life. Selling this information to the enemies of America will obviously lead to problems for Captain America.
We've only seen a little of Cap dealing with the loss of Bucky. Wearing the suit and carrying the shield once again will be a constant reminder that Bucky died (again). It was a vision that Steve had when he was fighting Red Skull that showed Bucky dying in his future, dressed as the Winter Soldier. Steve figured as long as Bucky remained wearing the Captain America outfit, that vision wouldn't come true. Despite this, he still failed to keep Bucky alive. Fighting other Winter Soldiers could be a massive blow to Captain America psychologically. And if these soldiers can easily blend into crowds, finding them won't necessarily be an easy task.
The other question is where is Bucky's body being kept? The current Captain America series takes place after Fear Itself (since Cap's shattered shield appears to have been repaired somehow). We all assume Bucky will return from the dead somehow but we haven't seen who actually examined his body. Let's just hope and pray that we won't be seeing clones of Bucky as the other Winter Soldiers.
A way to add to the shock of more Winter Soldiers would be if they were other heroes thought to have died, just like what happened originally with Bucky. If Cap had to fight other fallen comrades that had been brainwashed and trained to be sleeper agents, he's going to need some serious therapy after all this. It would make for a interesting twist but it could end up being a little too cliché if others close to Cap suffered a similar fate that Bucky did.
We'll find out in January just what is coming. It's possible there might be an announcement at New York Comic-Con this week. Let's hope Captain America and the rest of the world will be ready to deal with the threat.
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