Bucky: I can’t help thinking that Steve would be ashamed of me right now… And that makes me miss him even more than I realized I could. He was my link… Now… What have I got left? Nothing.
This has been sitting in my drafts for some time now, because it is absolutely one of my favorite Bucky moments, and I’ve been trying to articulate why. I don’t know if I can do it justice, but I’ll sure try.
We know what happens right before this. Some guy calls Steve a traitor and Bucky loses it. He beats up the entire bar.
Link to what? To the present? That’s certainly part of it, but I’d say Bucky means that Steve was a link to Bucky’s own humanity.
This scene is meant to hit us hard. The star of this series had just died, and Bru knew he had to give us a reason to love this new protagonist. To be engaged in his story. To cheer for him. And what does that better than a little manpain? No, in all seriousness, Bucky’s pain here is palpable. His best friend just died, and now he’s defiling the legacy Steve left behind. Steve would never do something like this, and Bucky knew it before he started. But he let his emotions take over. Because Steve isn’t here to temper them. And that’s exactly what Bucky has lost.
Bucky is not a “bad person.” He’s impetuous, emotional, makes snap decisions and regrets them afterwards, but there is no part of him that is inherently cruel. He doesn’t want to cause people pain. Especially not a bar full of people, only one of whom said the thing that set him off. But he lashes out like this because why not? Who’s here to stop him? The answer, later of course, will be Natasha and Sam, but right now he doesn’t have those people. He has his grief, and that’s it, and he lets it control his actions. A desperate Bucky is a rash and dangerous Bucky.
To bring it back to how sentimental Bucky really is, the thought that he has “nothing” now that Steve is gone is absolutely heartbreaking. Bucky couldn’t face him after the Winter Soldier ordeal, but at the back of his mind he was always hoping that somehow he could redeem himself and then be welcomed back into Steve’s life. That thought kept him going. Now that could never happen.
This scene is about Bucky losing everything: his friend, his control, his identity. He is, once again, that kid who had nothing but his anger and his grief, who lashed out because he lost everything. The rest of his run on Cap would be about Bucky building up himself and his relationships. Finding himself through a slow, tortuous process. Building “something” out of “nothing.”
From Captain America v5 #26, by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting
Bucky: Dumdumdedumdumdum… All these explosives… Gee… I’d feel funny keepin’ all this stuff that doesn’t belong to me… See what I’m sayin’?
Steve: I’m beginning to. Crafty plan. I wouldn’t have thought of it.
Bucky: You’re young. You’ll learn.
From Captain America: The Sentinel of Liberty #12, by Mark Waid, Dougie Braithwaite, and Anthony Williams
From The Ultimates v1 #03, by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch