The friendship between Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes is officially one of the most well-known, thanks to Marvel's Captain America movies. So it's no surprise that Marvel Comics just quietly changed the origins of Steve and Bucky, to better match the version seen in the MCU as opposed to the original comics.
To be clear, it isn't the kind of retcon that makes Captain America responsible for Wolverine like was recently revealed, throwing years of canon into question. Nor is it the kind of lighthearted Easter Egg that brings the worst Captain America movie into comic canon. Thanks to a flashback in the special Marvel Comics #1000, Steve Rogers was just slyly given a different origin story. One in which Steve Rogers and his friendship with James "Bucky" Barnes goes all the way... to the start.
The single-page story from writer Gerry Duggan and artists Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson is beautifully rendered, returning to Steve and Bucky's earlier days--as the special issue's tribute to 1964, the year that Steve Rogers was pulled from the ice to become Captain America once more. Take a look:
The conclusion of the short story suggests that this is equal parts flashback, a strange premonition from young Steve about the decades-long chill in his future, a memory returning to Steve during that time on ice, or a conjured dream in the same frozen state. The truth of it is entirely ambiguous, but the scene itself isn't: it suggests that Steve Rogers and James Barnes were children together, before Steve's deficiencies were even noticeable. Something every fan of the original Captain America comics knows was NOT the case.
Even if the difference between Captain America and his young sidekick, Bucky, is just four years, this memory doesn't add up. But more importantly, it's always been canon that Steve Rogers became a hero during World War II, inspiring the young Bucky to train up as his eventual partner. Making them childhood friends, like this scene shows, erases all of that in favor of the MCU version--in which Steve and Bucky are implied to be friends from childhood. Unless Steve's frozen mind is creating a fantasy in which the two played as children, which... well, suggests a story that would need more than one page to explore properly.
This short story, along with over 70 others, can be seen in the pages of Marvel Comics #1000, honoring the history of the comic book publisher through its many milestone moments. Read on for the full synopsis below:
THE GREATEST TALENT EVER ASSEMBLED FOR ONE STORY! THIS IS THE BIG ONE! In celebration of Marvel’s 80th Anniversary, we have gathered together the greatest array of talent ever to be assembled between the covers of a single comic book! Names from the past, from the present, and even the future! Every page is filled with all-new work from this cavalcade of comic book luminaries! There is a mystery that threads throughout the Marvel Universe — one that has its origins in MARVEL COMICS #1 and which unites a disparate array of heroes and villains throughout the decades! What is the Eternity Mask, and who is responsible for the conspiracy to keep it hidden? And what new player will make their startling debut as these secrets are peeled away? Featuring the entirety of the Marvel Universe of characters!
Marvel Comics #1000 is available now at your local comic book shop, or direct from Marvel Comics.