After Steve Rogers’ death, Bucky Barnes helped lead the New Avengers as the next Captain America.
By any measure, Bucky Barnes has had a rocky road to redemption, but one of the turning points in his life was when he joined the New Avengers team. He appeared to help the team during an especially terrible time. Despite continuing to fight his own personal demons, Bucky helped hold the team together.
While Bucky had committed numerous war crimes during the years he operated as the Winter Soldier, he became the next Captain America after the supposed death of Steve Rogers. And just as Steve had inspired the original Avengers team, Bucky worked to live up to his old friend’s legacy with the New Avengers.
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Bucky joined the team in New avengers # 48, by Brian Michael Bendis and Billy Tan, a story that was related to the beginning of Marvel Dark reign. The New Avengers had been formed after the original team disbanded in the wake of the Avengers disassembled Bendis and David Finch story. This new team was formed under the leadership of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.
When Steve was killed at the end of Civil war, the New Avengers were forced into hiding while Bucky reluctantly became the next Captain America. Everything changed when the alien shapeshifting Skrulls infiltrated Earth. All the outlaws, criminals and heroes banded together to repel the invasion and in the wake of his costly victory, Bucky stepped up to help the New Avengers.
This was a difficult time for the team. From the beginning, things were uncertain, as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ little daughter had been kidnapped by one of the few surviving Skrulls. Additionally, Norman Osborn was put in charge of world security for his role in defeating the Skrull invasion. Luke made a deal with Osborn to help save his daughter, but broke it the moment his son was safe because he was unwilling to work for a murderous psychopath like Osborn. This meant that the Cage family had to hide with the rest of the team at Bucky’s house, placing Bucky very close to a baby for the first time in his life.
The next big challenge came when the team took on Osborn, who had formed his own Avengers team comprised of other killer supervillains. Osborn led this team by assuming the Iron Patriot name and donning a repurposed Iron Man suit. Bucky wanted to help the New Avengers team, but he also felt very out of reach. The years he’d spent as a brainwashed Soviet operative rendered him unaware of current events, leaving him unsure whether Norman Osborn had really been the Green Goblin. Eventually, Bucky became a field leader when the team embarked on missions against Osborn, using his military experience to provide tactical insights that helped them survive numerous encounters in which they were outnumbered and outgunned.
When Steve Rogers came back to life, the two fought side by side, both simultaneously dressed as Captain America and carrying a version of the shield (though Bucky repeatedly tried to give it up and let Steve become the only Captain America. ). They worked together to defeat Osborn during the Siege story, and then Steve personally asked Bucky to be part of the Avengers core team. His first mission with the team took him into the future, where the Avengers were embroiled in a conflict between Ultron, Kang the Conqueror, and the future Avengers team.
When the main team returned to their own time, the future Avengers looked down on Bucky and told him they were glad for the suffering that was soon to come. That suffering began when he was extradited to Russia and detained in a gulag for the crimes he committed as a Winter Soldier. He was forced to quit the Avengers and stop being Captain America. Although Bucky eventually cleared his name, the damage had already been done. He returned to black ops work, operating from the shadows. However, when his former teammates were in trouble, he would frequently return to help out in any way he could.
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