(What if Captain America and Bucky had not disappeared at the end of World War II)

Type: Divergent Earth

Environment: Essentially Earth-like

Usual means of access: Vibrational attunement

Dominant Life Form: Same as other Earth dimensions

Significant Inhabitants: Avengers, Baron (Heinrich) Zemo/Supreme Hydra, Captain America (Steve Rogers), Captain America (Buck Barnes), Sharon Carter, Nick Fury, Adolf Hitler, Howling Commandos, Hulk, Hydra, Lyndon B. Johnson, Rick Jones, Jonathon "Junior" Juniper, Robert "Rebel" Ralston, Red Skull (Johann Shmidt), Nazis, SHIELD

First Appearance: What If I#5 (October, 1977)

(What If I#5) - As Captain America (Steve Rogers) and Bucky Barnes raced to stop Zemo's drone plane, their cycle enabled them to reach it in time to leap onto and deactivate its bomb, which sent it on a nose dive into the English Channel from which they were recovered by an English ship. Zemo, meanwhile, escaped via his V2 rocket, which lacked the range to return to Germany, and so he parachuted out within France and met with the Red Skull. The Skull then shot Zemo with an experimental drug to send him into suspended animation for 2-3 decades, cast him into a hidden passageway, and fled as allied forces stormed the castle (having tracked Zemo's flight).

(What If I#5) - Captain America and Bucky continued working with allied forces, engaging the Red Skull at a later time at another fortress, which was bombed, and the Red Skull apparently perished.

(What If I#5) - Captain America and Bucky aided the Howling Commandos in the final battle against the Nazis.

(What If I#5) - Over a decade later, in the 1950's, Captain America and Buck (as he was now known) defeated a group of Communists and were saddened to hear that Nick Fury had died during the Korean Conflict, as he hadn't seen a grenade thrown from the side of his bad eye.

(What If I#5) - By the 1960's, a rift was developing between Captain America and Buck, who resented Cap's greater size and strength (due to the Super Soldier formula).

(What If I#5) - In the mid-1960s, Buck, tired of living in Captain America's shadow, retired. As a result, Captain America became more of a loner.

(What If I#5 (fb) - BTS) - Eventually reviving and escaping the Red Skull's castle, Zemo organized Hydra, insisting that his minions wear masks as his own mask was permanently bonded to him.

(What If I#5) - Captain America declined an offer to join the Avengers.

(What If I#5) - When President Johnson asked Captain America to run SHIELD, the new organization he was forming in order to combat the likes of Hydra. Cap declined and instead recommended Buck Barnes for the role. Buck accepted the job and was soon leading SHIELD against the forces of Hydra.

(What If I#5) - During one battle against Hydra, Buck saw something familiar in the Supreme Hydra's eyes, and he was frustrated as the leader slipped away yet again.

(What If I#5) - Several years later, as Buck visited Captain America, they encountered the Hulk (paralleling the events of Captain America I#110). His reflexes slowing with age, Captain America took a punch to the face and collapsed. Buck picked up his shield and used it to cover Rick Jones and himself, protecting them from a building the Hulk had collapsed on them. Later that night, as Cap took in Rick, insisting he never return to the Hulk, Buck donned the Captain America costume and confronted Steve, telling him he was too old and that it was time for him to retire. After some discussion, Steve reluctantly agreed. In addition, Buck agreed to take Rick as his new sidekick.

(What If I#5) - While Captain America debuted Rick as his new partner (no one else knew that Buck had replaced Steve as Captain America, and Cap's identity has always been secret), Steve then took over as head of SHIELD.

(What If I#5) - Buck soon fell in love with Agent 13, Sharon Carter.

(What If I#5) - Steve led a SHIELD mission to Hydra's island stronghold. After finishing the initial group of Hydra agents outside their volcano base, Steve called in Captain America for back-up. Steve used a Stark anti-sonic gun that silently blasted open door, and then he, Sharon, and Cap overpowered a trio of Hydra agents, took their uniforms and infiltrated the base. As the Supreme Hydra began to address the group, telling them of his new life-draining weapon, Sharon was discovered, as no women were allowed on Hydra base (!). The trio battled back the Hydra forces, but when Steven tried to grab the weapon, he activated its booby-trap, and a burst of electricity subdued the three heroes. They were bound and then confronted by the Supreme Hydra, whom Steve quickly recognized and identified as Zemo. Apparently maddened by his time in stasis, Zemo failed to recognize Steve's face, but he did realize that Buck's face was not that of the Captain America he had fought decades before. Enraged, Zemo prepared to shoot the still unconscious Buck, but Steve, still enhanced by his super-soldier serum even at age 50, broke free and punched Zemo. Buck and Sharon revived as Hydra forces rushed in, but Zemo turned and fired his hand weapon at Captain America, blasting him, though Buck pretended Zemo had missed and encouraged Steve to stop Zemo once and for all. Zemo at last recognized Steve's face, then fled after taking another punch, and when Steve hurled his old shield, Zemo fearfully buckled, and the shield struck Zemo's machinery (that which maintained the inert volcano's artificial magma (to keep out intruders by making them think it was still active), and Zemo's body was buried by a sea of the molten rock.
    SHIELD overpowered Hydra, and they retreated into another room, which they sealed from the magma, but Buck had been mortally wounded, and he died after noting that he just wasn't as fast or strong as Steve, and that he knew now that there was only one Captain America.

(What If I#5) - At Buck's funeral, Sharon condemned Steve for turning the young Bucky into an instrument of war, further telling him that he considered Buck just another casualty of war.

(What If I#5) - Steve returned to SHIELD, while the Captain America costume was retired and placed in a museum.

(What If I#5) - Rick met with Steve, telling him he was outgrowing his "Bucky" costume and asked if he could become the new Captain America, continuing his training and hoping that SHIELD would one day rediscover the Super Soldier formula.

Comments: Created by Don Glut and George Tuska.

    This reality diverged from Earth-616 during the events of Avengers I#56.

    The sliding timescale makes this story more of a problem, as it's taking place as if Captain America's emergence in the modern era took place in the 1960s. In fact, in this reality, I'd say there is no sliding timescale, and that the modern era indeed began in 1961 and moved forward in real time.

    Further, recent revelations in Captain America show that Bucky was actually pretty close to Cap's age. The story made it seem like there was a 10 year (or more) difference between the two, which I guess there could have been, it would just make this reality a little different from Earth-616.

    Nonetheless, this story has Bucky as Captain America about 31 years before Earth-616's version.

    The Watcher specifically notes that while he could not answer whether Rick would become a third Captain America, he did state that as long as injustices prevailed in that world, as long as there were voices crying out for freedoms denied them, that there would be a need for Captain America and Bucky. I think we can assume that at least two realities exist with matching events up to the end of the story, and in one, Rick did become Captain America, while in the other (Earth-77106), Rick did not become Captain America.

    Interesting how Rick recognized Zemo's eyes, since Zemo wears a full face mask and his eyes are covered by it, only seen as dark patches, though he can see through the thin fabric. Even his Supreme Hydra costume had a fake flesh mask over his head, as he was still trapped in his Zemo mask.

Profile by Snood.

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images: (without ads)
What If I#5, p4, panels 3-6 (Cap defuses drone plane's bomb)
        p17, panel 5 (Barnes Captain America unmasked)
        p18, panel 3 (Barnes Captain America & Rick Jones)

What If I#5 (October, 1977) - Don Glut (writer),  George Tuska (penciler), Russ Jones (inker), Roy Thomas (editor, co-plotter)

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Last Updated: 05/02/08

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