James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes used to be one of the most notoriously dead characters in all of comicbookdom. He marked his debut in Captain America Comics #1 as Steve Rogers’ fresh-faced teenaged sidekick and fought many battles alongside the Patriotic Avenger. It all went downhill for him from there. He was eventually replaced with a heroine named Golden Girl and was basically forgotten about until Cap’s thawing in Avengers #4, where it was revealed that Bucky had died in a airplane explosion.
In 2005, Bucky was brought back, revealed to be the brainwashed international assassin The Winter Soldier. Bucky had been found and rebuilt by the Soviets and trained to covertly carry out their various insidious plans, working in the shadows and single-handedly causing a sharp spike in the number of fatal “accidents” that happened to the rich and powerful.
Operating in secret for decades, The Winter Soldier has a list of kills longer than his bionic arm. He’s since redeemed himself in both the comics and the movies, but during his horrific heyday, he was a deadly force to be reckoned with. Here are 15 People The Winter Soldier Has Killed.
15. President John F. Kennedy
Yes, you read that right. Apparently, the Marvel Universe’s version of the 35th President of the United States was assassinated by The Winter Soldier himself. In the final issue of Captain America Vol.5, it’s suggested that the brainwashed Bucky was behind the infamous murder of JFK, sniping him from afar. Taste issues aside, it’d make narrative sense that the Soviets would send their ghost to eliminate the president and destabilize global politics.
MCU actor Sebastian Stan also supports the theory. In a tongue-in-cheek video, Stan talks about his friendship with Captain America and his capacity for forgiveness. He off-handedly mentions the fact that Cap was apparently “cool” with the fact that the Soviets had his best friend shoot John F. Kennedy. None of this has been properly confirmed, but even if this somehow became MCU canon, it wouldn’t be the first Marvel series to do so. We all remember X-Men: Days of Future Past‘s eyebrow-raising allusion to Magneto being involved in the incident. Either way, it looks like the comic book version of events has just as many conspiracy theories as the real thing.
14. French Defense Minister Jacques Dupuy
Not much is known about Jacques Dupuy, other than the fact that according to Captain America Vol. 5 #11, he was apparently the Marvel Universe’s French Defense Minister in the 1950s. The important thing is the implications of his death. He’s killed “with prejudice” by Winter Soldier in Algeria in 1956, with the Algerian Nationalist Movement framed to look like the culprits. A month later, Bucky blows up an Algerian envoy on the way to a peace conference.
The historians amongst you will know that around 1954, the real-life Algerian War started, with Algeria pushing back against French occupation and the whole thing turning into a bloody and bitterly fought war. The fact that Winter Soldier was used to prolong the conflict by attacking both sides is a perfect example of some of the nefarious political means that poor old Bucky was used to carry out. With things like this on his record, it makes the idea that he was the one behind the Earth-616 Kennedy assassination all the more plausible.
13. Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
La Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (to give her full title) first appeared in Strange Tales #159 in the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. feature. Valentina was a kickass field agent who soon became a love interest for Fury. The character was part of a mini-scandal when Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D #2 had several “inappropriate” panels depicting her and Fury getting busy changed thanks to the Comics Code Authority. The final image of the couple together ended up being replaced with a suggestive image of a gun being holstered instead.
The character has made sporadic appearances since, but perhaps her oddest is her cameo in the animated Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes series. In the Season Two episode “The Winter Soldier”, Nick Fury flashes back to one of his earlier missions which was sabotaged by a mysterious attacker. We see a female agent shot in the back before The Winter Soldier tangles with Fury, keeping him distracted whilst a bomb timer ticks away. The device explodes and Fury confirms that he lost some good men on that particular mission. Quite why Val was brought in purely to be collateral damage is unknown, but it marks an official kill on The Winter Soldier’s hitlist.
12. Three unnamed soldiers
Writer Ed Brubaker brought Bucky back in a big way. The Soviets found the mortally injured Bucky in the water and resurrected him, gave him a shiny new arm, programmed and trained him to be a deadly force of nature, and set him on their enemies like a cyber attack dog. Bucky’s secret history of espionage is revealed over the course of Brubaker’s run, and we see The Winter Soldier’s first successful mission as an international killing machine.
Bucky is tasked to infiltrate the American military stationed in Germany. He disguises himself as soldier and blends in seamlessly, following them to a Berlin nightclub. He causes several soldiers to crash on their way back to base and slips into the night. Their deaths are put down to a tragic drunk driving accident, and Bucky’s transformation from superhero sidekick to sinister ghost operative is complete. While these deaths were more of a test than an actual mission, they still marked the Winter Soldier’s first confirmed kills in a terrifyingly long line of them.
11. Paste-Pot Pete/ The Trapster
Peter Petruski was a research scientist who invented a strong multi-polymer adhesive. His invention makes him rich, but that wasn’t enough for Peter. He turned to a life of crime in Spider-Man #91 equipped with a ludicrous costume and paste gun. He calls himself Paste-Pot Pete, a name that would make Spider-Man burst into hysterical laughter upon hearing it for the first time when they eventually met. Pete reinvents his image and changes his supervillain name to the only-marginally-better “The Trapster”.
What If? House of M imagined a world where Scarlet Witch’s universe-bending words weren’t “No more mutants” but the all-encapsulating “No more power”. The Marvel Universe is significantly different and all the usual heroes have lost their mojo. Iron Man remains somewhat powerful thanks to his tech, and soon a bunch of heroes, included a laser-clawed Wolverine, don battle suits to try and stop Red Skull. It’s a cool idea, and The Winter Soldier makes a deadly cameo. With guns obviously unaffected by the change, Winter Soldier comes up against The Trapster, who has moved up in the world now that there are no heroes capable of taking him down. Unfortunately, bullets still work too, and he’s gunned down with little fuss.
Stilt-Man is often considered one of the lamest villains Marvel has ever created. Wilbur Day invents a battle suit with telescopic legs that he uses to rob banks and tall buildings. He first came into contact with Daredevil, but has fought an impressive number of Marvel heroes over the years. He’s a D-List villain and despite having a terrible gimmick, he’s managed to stick around for a surprisingly long time.
Stilt-Man was killed by The Punisher during Civil War, but What If? House of M has The Winter Soldier murder Wilbur when he’s hanging out with other low-tier villains like Shocker and Trapster. His demise is done and over with in a single panel and is soon completely overshadowed by the big Marvel names like the X-Men and three of the Fantastic Four biting the dust in the same issue. It’s worth noting that Stilt-Man was resurrected in the main continuity at the beginning of 2017, meaning that his reign of telescopic terror will continue into the foreseeable future.
9. Mother Night
Mother Night was introduced in the ’70s within the pages of Captain America #123. Susan Scarbo was a gifted hypnotist who used her powers to convince people to do her bidding. She started her criminal career as “Suprema” but soon became known as Mother Night, because anything’s better than sounding like a cheap dog food. She worked her way up the ranks and fell for the Red Skull, who didn’t share her affections. Romance was off the cards, but she ended up as one of Red Skull’s lieutenants instead, charged with making sure various schemes went to plan.
In Part 3 of Captain America story Out of Time, British superhero Union Jack finds a bunch of Skull’s men dead in the London Underground, including Mother Night. It later transpires that The Winter Soldier had torn through the place several hours before and stolen the bomb they were planting. It’s a harsh send-off for a character that had been around for 30 years, but it built up Winter Soldier as a legitimately dangerous villain.
8. Agent Neal Tapper
You know that bomb we mentioned in the last entry? Three guesses as to how S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Neal Tapper dies. Yup. Winter Soldier relocated the device to Philadelphia. Tapper’s ex-girlfriend Sharon Carter goes missing in her search for clues and Tapper is sent after her. He follows her signal to the sewer system and finds the body of an unidentified man as well as the bomb.
Meanwhile, Captain America tracks Sharon to a rooftop and after rescuing Carter, is told that the whole thing is a set-up. Agent Tapper bravely attempts to disarm the bomb, but The Winter Soldier activates it remotely, vaporizing Neal and blowing up a block of the historic city with it, killing hundreds. Cap has a prime view of the explosion and Sharon realises that the whole ordeal was to make sure Steve was powerless to stop the blast. The Winter Soldier isn’t usually one for mass-murder, but under Soviet general Aleksander Lukin’s control, he commits a full-blown terrorist attack. It’s a sobering lesson for the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, especially Agent 13, who learns of Tapper’s demise in the next issue.
7. Senator Harry Baxtor
Another one for the “who?” pile, but like the last forgettable politician death, what happens afterwards is worth discussing. As part of his mission on March 12th, 1973 , The Winter Soldier kills Senator Harry Baxtor and leaves him floating face-down in his swimming pool. However, after fifteen years of successful wetwork operations, Bucky fails to make the extraction point and goes off the grid.
When his handlers do eventually find him in a New York flophouse, he’s lost and confused, having spent weeks travelling across the country for no particular reason. The Soviets take him back and scrub his brain again and everything goes back to normal. The incident is referred to as an “aberration” and dismissed, with a note on his file to exclude him from future missions on American soil. Whether this was the first sign of Bucky’s rejection of his programming is up for debate, but it serves as an interesting anomaly in The Winter Soldier’s shady past.
6. Andre Rostov/The Red Barbarian
Andre Rostov was a high-ranking Communist general who commanded a large global spy network. He became known as the Red Barbarian thanks to his brutality and his intolerance of failure, which he often expressed physically, mercilessly beating his own men. Rostov worked as a warden during Winter Soldier’s years incarcerated in a gulag. With Rostov’s reputation, it’s easy to imagine that he wasn’t the most pleasant host, and was probably all-too-eager to punish his unfortunate prisoners.
In Winter Soldier #5, Bucky actually brings about a bit of justice. He catches up to the general as he is enjoying his retirement in the Bahamas. Rostov strolls onto the beach, cold cocktail in hand. He gets a moment to breathe in the sea air before a sniper dot appears on his chest. Bucky snipes him from a hidden location, and the ex-Red Barbarian crumples to the ground gurgling. Perhaps he shouldn’t have worn such a loud shirt.
5. Jasper Sitwell
The character of Jasper Sitwell has been around since 1966. He was a top-of-his-class student at S.H.I.E.L.D. and soon became a top flight agent. He became known for his interrogation skills and was frequently used to extract vital information from tight-lipped baddies. When The Winter Soldier made his comic debut, Sitwell was killed by a brainwashed Black Widow.
The MCU version, played by Maximiliano Hernández, is a little different. Weirdly, he made his debut in the Iron Man movie tie-in comic and made full-fledged appearances in two Marvel One-Shots, as well as Thor, The Avengers, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He also had a role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it would turn out to be his last appearance on the big screen. With S.H.I.E.L.D. compromised and its agents revealed to be working for Hydra, Falcon, Black Widow, and Cap drive Sitwell back to base in an attempt to use him to bypass the security systems. Upon hearing this plan, Sitwell doesn’t have long to protest before the Winter Soldier announces his arrival by shattering the passenger window and launching Sitwell out of the car and into the path of an oncoming truck Ouch.
4. Red Skull
How do you make a showstopping entrance that’s guaranteed to get the attention of Captain America? By killing his arch-nemesis, of course. The first step in General Aleksander Lukin’s devious plan was to dispossess Red Skull of the Cosmic Cube. Red Skull is in a New York penthouse, surveying the skyline when he gets a call from Lukin himself. The general threatens him, and Shmidt attempts to use the Cube before catching a few high-velocity rounds in the chest courtesy of The Winter Soldier.
When Skull’s body is found, Steve Rogers has a hard time believing it. Despite DNA tests confirming Shmidt’s identity, Rogers smells a rat. Of course, Cap is right, and it turns out that Red Skull had been partway through using the Cube to switch bodies with Lukin. As the Cube wasn’t fully charged, Shmidt only managed to transfer his mind over, trapped battling Lukin’s consciousness for supremacy. It’s a bit of a cop-out, but it’s worth it for the genuinely arresting image of Red Skull lying dead on the ground with a gaping chest wound and Steve Rogers’ complete denial that his arch-enemy may actually be gone.
3. Jack Monroe/Nomad
Now we move on to the seriously tragic. Jack Monroe was a former Bucky himself, having fought alongside a Captain America impersonator who used a Super-Soldier serum to give himself and his ward superpowers. Unfortunately for them, the process lacked a few of the necessary steps, and it eventually turned the pair into paranoid schizophrenics. Both heroes were put on ice only for Jack to be discovered years later in a warehouse. He thaws and soon becomes the superhero Nomad, another tribute to Captain America’s past.
We catch up with Jack Monroe at the end of Captain America Vol.5 #3. He’s drinking at a bar in Pennsylvania and is clearly in a bad way. He stumbles outside to his car before he’s called by a mysterious voice. He turns around and seems to recognize the shadowy figure before he’s shot and bundled into the trunk of his own car. Unfortunately, this isn’t where Jack’s story ends. His body is then stashed next to the bomb in Philadelphia to implicate him in the explosion. Not only that, but we’re treated to a chronically depressing interlude in Issue #7 which detailed Jack’s life up until that point. It focuses on his terminal medical diagnosis and his struggle to see his biological daughter (since adopted) one last time before he croaks. It’s genuinely sad, and it makes his callous death at Bucky’s hand sting a hundred times worse.
2. Itsu Akihiro
Wolverine’s had an insane amount of women in his life. So much so, we have to clarify which specific Japanese wife of his we’re referring to. We’re not talking about Mariko Yashida – Logan’s doomed bride in the famous Japan Saga. We’re focusing on Itsu Akihiro, the woman Wolverine met in Japan after World War II, married, and got pregnant. Wolverine celebrates the news with the villagers, proving himself a worthy man for Itsu by engaging in a ritualistic fist fight with the locals. A nearby explosion rocks the surroundings, and Wolverine instinctually pops his claws and sinks them into a villager’s arm.
Having failed the challenge and brought dishonor to himself, Logan must leave their community. He goes back home to see Itsu, whom he finds dead on the ground in a pool of blood. While talking to an imprisoned Logan many years later, Bucky admits that her death was a Winter Soldier hit to draw Wolverine out of hiding. Logan’s unborn child was cut from Itsu’s womb, though the little one managed to survive thanks to the family healing genes. The child would go on to become the villainous Daken, who even impersonated his father at one point in the Dark Avengers.
1. Howard and Maria Stark
You probably guessed this would be number one. Tony Stark’s parents were tragically killed when he was a young man and he never quite got over it. In his presentation in Captain America: Civil War, he shows an entire auditorium of students how he’s used his wealth to try to make peace with the massive gulf left in his life. As the movie progresses, lines in the sand start to be drawn over the Sokovia Accords, an act designed to hold the Avengers culpable for their actions. Captain America and his buddies make up one side and Tony and his crew take the other.
Meanwhile, the devious Helmut Zemo has plans to implode the Avengers for good. He acquires a security tape to show Stark that proves without a doubt that Steve’s BBF Bucky was the one behind his parents’ murders. This is heartbreaking enough, but Tony finds out that Rogers knew all along and loses his mind, suiting up and attacking.
It’s perhaps the details that makes this one wrench the heartstrings. Before Howard is killed, you see him recognize Sergeant Barnes before he catches a fatal superpowered punch to the face. The CCTV footage then shows Winter Soldier advancing on the trapped and helpless Maria Stark, who he strangles before leaving the scene. It’s grim stuff, and it makes Tony’s rage completely understandable, especially when Cap defends Bucky. It’s an emotionally charged moment that leaves the uneasy friendship between Cap and Iron Man irrecoverably changed, with Cap abandoning his signature shield.
Who else has the Winter Soldier mowed down over the years? Let us know in the comments.
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