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How Bucky’s Captain America Joined the New Avengers

After Steve Rogers died, Bucky Barnes helped lead the New Avengers as the next Captain America.

By any measure, Bucky Barnes has had a difficult path toward redemption, but one of the turning points in his life was when he joined the New Avengers team. He showed up to help the team during an especially dire time. Despite still battling 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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RELATED: Falcon And Winter Soldier Reveals The Real Reason Bucky Broke Zemo Out Of Prison

New Avengers Captain America

Bucky joined the team in New Avengers #48, by Brian Michael Bendis and Billy Tan, a story which tied into the beginning of Marvel’s Dark Reign. The New Avengers had formed after the original team disbanded in the aftermath of the Avengers Disassembled story by Bendis and David Finch. This new team came together under the leadership of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.

When Steve was assassinated 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 shape-shifting alien Skrulls infiltrated the Earth. Every outlaw, criminal and hero teamed up to repel the invasion, and in the aftermath of their costly victory, Bucky reached out to help the New Avengers.

This was a difficult time for the team. Right from the beginning, things were uncertain, as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’s baby daughter had been kidnapped by one of the few surviving Skrulls. Additionally, Norman Osborn was placed in charge of the world’s 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 child was safe as 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 in Bucky’s home — placing Bucky into close proximity with a baby for the first time in his life.

RELATED: Winter Soldier: How Bucky Ripped Wolverine’s Life Apart

The next major challenge came when the team confronted Osborn, who had formed his own Avengers team comprised of other murderous supervillains. Osborn led this team while assuming the name Iron Patriot and wearing a repurposed Iron Man suit. Bucky wanted to help the New Avengers team, but he also felt very out of his depth. The years he had spent as a brainwashed Soviet operative left him unaware of current events, leaving him unsure if Norman Osborn had really been Green Goblin. Eventually, Bucky became a field leader when the team went on missions against Osborn, using his military experience to provide tactical insights that helped them survive numerous encounters where they were outnumbered and outgunned.

When Steve Rogers returned 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 storyline, and afterward, Steve personally asked Bucky to be part of the main Avengers team. His first mission with the team took him into the future, where the Avengers became entangled 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 disparaged Bucky and told him they were glad for the suffering that was coming his way soon. That suffering began when he was extradited to Russia and detained in a gulag for crimes he committed as the Winter Soldier. He was forced to quit the Avengers and give up being Captain America. Though Bucky eventually cleared his name, the damage had been done. He returned to black ops work, operating from the shadows. However, when his former teammates were in trouble, he frequently returned to help however he could.

KEEP READING: Winter Soldier: How Bucky Became Earth’s Secret Defender

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