Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #6 () was a gamechanger. written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly with pencils by Carmen Carnero, the issue featured Captain America and the Winter Soldier in an epic battle, which ended with the two going their separate ways. Once the dust settled, Bucky had a new codename, and a dark new purpose. Let’s break down everything that happened.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #6.
The story so far
Captain America and the Winter Soldier have been trying to take down a shadowy organization known as the Outer Circle. It turns out that the Outer Circle have secretly been manipulating both of their lives from the beginning. For example, in Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #3 Steve learned that the shield he’s been carrying since World War II has a hidden meaning regarding the order. The outer circle on his symbol commands the two inner circles, with the star representing their weapon – Steve Rogers.
That’s right, all this time Captain America has been manipulated by the Outer Circle, and he’s unknowingly been wielding a symbol that mocked him for it. The Outer Circle had even been manipulating various other secret organizations like SHIELD and Hydra. These revelations infuriated Bucky. It turns out that the Outer Circle had been partially responsible for his years of brainwashing as the Winter Soldier.
Things came to a head when Captain America and the Winter Soldier confronted Revolution, an agent of the Outer Circle. Revolution told Bucky to kill him and take his place in the Outer Circle’s leadership. He played to Bucky’s thirst for revenge, telling the conflicted hero that he could take the organization down from within. Steve Rogers was against this plan, but Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #5 ended with a shocking cliffhanger as Bucky defied his mentor and shot Revolution. To make the betrayal all the more shocking, Bucky’s bullet went through Steve’s arm before killing Revolution.
What happened in Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #6?
Most of this issue focuses on a brutal battle between Captain America and the Winter Soldier. Steve tries to reason with Bucky, reminding him that it’s not too late to walk away. Bucky makes it clear that they’re at an impasse, and the two begin fighting. It’s an intense battle, with the former comrades literally throwing missiles (you read that correctly) and hitting one another with aircraft debris.
In the end Bucky detaches his own mechanical arm in order to eject Steve from the Outer Circle’s base. Perhaps Lanzing, Kelly, and Carnero were going for a bit of symbolism here. In order to send Steve away, Bucky must lose a piece of his own body. It’s clear the experience has emotionally shaken both men. After Steve lands on a nearby beach, he lays on the ground silently, processing the betrayal he just experienced. Elsewhere Bucky has tears in his eyes, realizing he’s passed the point of no return.
The issue ends with Bucky remaking himself for the Outer Circle. He sheds his domino mask, restyles his arm, attaches a new arm, and dons a new uniform. He then walks into an Outer Circle leadership meeting, and reveals his new codename.
“I am not the soldier. Or the partner. Or the weapon. Or the Starpoint,” Bucky tells the Outer Circle leadership. “Those men were Bucky Barnes. And Bucky Barnes is gone. Now I’m the man who’s gonna upend your world. You can call me the New Revolution.”
What is this all building to?
The Winter Soldier is dead, long live the New Revolution. Bucky has chosen to dismantle the Outer Circle from within, but at the cost of his friendship with Steve. Meanwhile Captain America is fighting to take down the Outer Circle, which will put him on a collision course with the New Revolution. If this battle between Bucky and Steve broke their hearts, I can only imagine what the next one will do.
Over in the letters pages there is a message that invites readers to look for 13 coded messages that have been placed in previous issues. The letters page also includes a decrypting alphabet to help readers crack the code. Supposedly the codes will reveal the secrets of the Outer Circle, and perhaps some hints to their plans. Keep your eyes peeled and happy hunting!
On November 16 Marvel will publish Captain America and the Winter Soldier Special, a one-shot that will reveal how the Outer Circle has influenced the world throughout the last century. Then on December 7 Steve’s pursuit of the Outer Circle will continue in Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #7. All of this is building up to Captain America: Cold War, a storyline that will run through the Captain America titles in spring 2023.
Details about the event were teased at New York Comic-Con. The storyline will also build off of the events from Sam Wilson’s series Captain America: Symbol of Truth. With Bucky’s new status quo, the stakes for Captain America: Cold War have grown. Battling Doctor Doom, Thanos, and Galactus is one thing, but taking down your best friend is another. The opening shots have been fired in the cold war, and now things are about to heat up.
Want more? Captain America is a big part of many of Marvel Comics' best stories.