Warning: SPOILERS for Falcon & Winter Soldier #1
Marvel Comics just gave the Winter Soldier the perfect new status quo in Marvel’s espionage community. Life hasn’t exactly been easy for Bucky Barnes. Although he was thrilled to work alongside Captain America as a teenager in World War II, he wound up stranded behind enemy lines and left for dead. Captured by Hydra, he was subjected to brainwashing and cybernetic experiments in order to become the Winter Soldier.
The Winter Soldier’s been fighting on the side of the angels for quite some time now, even wielding the shield as Captain America for a time, but he’s had a pretty terse relationship with the authorities. He earned a conditional pardon for helping oppose Hydra during the Secret Empire event, but until now there’s been no hint of just what those conditions are.
This week’s Falcon & Winter Soldier #1 finally answers the question. The Government is holding Bucky’s past criminal activities over his head, forcing him to conduct assassination missions on dangerous targets. He’s apparently been working closely with a group called the Office of Federal Utilities; although they claim to work in the field of water management, that’s actually a cover. In reality, the OFU track terrorist training camps across the United States. Once the camps have been identified, they send in the Winter Soldier to take them out. Unfortunately, as both Falcon and the Winter Soldier learn,
This is probably the smartest status quo the Winter Soldier has ever had in the comics. It makes perfect sense for him to work as an off-the-books assassin for the US Government, as part of a conditional pardon to forget his past indiscretions. It wouldn’t be at all hard to adapt this to the MCU as well, where Winter Soldier has been the subject of a global manhunt ever since the events of Captain America: Civil War. No doubt the world’s governments still kept looking for him even after the snap, because they would have had no way of knowing whether he was taking advantage of the mass disappearances to go into even deeper hiding. And yet, for all that’s the case, the final scenes of Avengers: Endgame saw the Winter Soldier attending Tony Stark’s funeral, suggesting he was no longer the world’s most wanted.
This would neatly explain Winter Soldier’s role in the upcoming Falcon and Winter Soldier TV series. Set photos have suggested the two superheroes will actually be working with Baron Zemo, perhaps tapping into his knowledge of the world’s terrorist organisations. It could well be that Marvel Comics has just prepared the way for that particular story.
Falcon & Winter Soldier #1 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.
More: Falcon & Winter Soldier Shows How The World Has Moved On After The Snap