Recent teasers from Marvel reveal that Ed Brubaker will be revisiting his deservedly acclaimed Winter Soldier arc, in which he told the story of Bucky Barnes from his apparent death in World War II to his present resurgence in the Marvel Universe.
Of course, Bucky was fairly brutally murdered by Sin, early in Fear Itself. So while at first it seemed he was getting either a speedy resurrection or an arc telling stories from his Winter Solider past, looking at an even older teaser made it seem that Brubaker would be writing an ongoing about an entirely new Winter Soldier.
Turns out, none of these theories are true. Hit the jump for spoilers.
In the important Fear Itself #7.1 that was released today, and which I fortunately added to my truncated Pull List (don't worry, I still kept it well under $20) we were shown that Bucky WASN'T killed in Fear Itself.
Instead, detecting a pulse after his one-on-one with Sin was over, Nick Fury and Natasha Romanova (AKA Black Widow AKA Bucky's lover) swapped his body with a mangled Life Model Decoy. They let the world think he was dead so that Steve Rogers would step up, get back into the Captain America uniform, and take his place on the frontlines of the war engulfing the world. Meanwhile Fury and Natasha injected the still-hanging-on Bucky with the Infinity Formula, the serum that has extended Fury's life for decades, which repaired the damage to his heart and gave him a full recovery.
As a good bro would do, Bucky told Steve the truth before his funeral service, but the decision was made to tell no one else, so that Bucky could resume his life in the shadows, operating as the Winter Soldier, repairing past misdeeds and solving problems only he knows about.
Quite an enormous and immediate retcon for a .1 issue that got a comparatively minimal amount of publicity. And while it weakens Fear Itself (Bucky's death being one of the only moments in that unfortunate event to have any weight) I appreciate the subtlety of it as well as the fact that they didn't make us wait very long for the information.
So now we have a Brubaker ongoing featuring Bucky as the Winter Soldier in addition to his writing duties on Captain America. Neither will make it to my streamlined Pull List, but they might pop up in trades sometime down the road and I'll definitely keep an eye out for Bucky. He was a very fun and significant twist in the Captain America mythos, and I'm glad he's not dead.