Bucky Barnes’ Winter Soldier might have just been handed the opportunity of a lifetime — or it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in his painfully tragic life. The Thunderbolts — Moonstone, the Fixer, Songbird, Atlas, and MACH-V — are living in an underground bunker in the arctic, led by the Winter Soldier and protecting Kobik, the child embodiment of an all-powerful Cosmic Cube. Thunderbolts #10, “Return of the Masters,” has the Thunderbolts team being dragged back into their origins by the hooded Baron Zemo and the new Masters of Evil.
Thunderbolts #10 opens with a prologue, “Like Lightning,” where Jolt has returned to Earth just in time to save Atlas from being killed by the invading Masters of Evil. Led by Baron Zemo, the Masters of Evil trick Bucky out into the open, beating him senseless and then presenting him to the Thunderbolts along with a proposition from Zemo: join the Masters of Evil once again. What has trying to be good ever done for any of these villains who are attempting to redeem themselves? What has Bucky Barnes ever done for any of them?
Kobik is having none of that and, standing between Zemo and the Thunderbolts, looks ready to take on Zemo singlehandedly. But he stops her with a containment device — handily miniaturized by Dr. Selvig — that holds Kobik in what looks to be a blast of pure energy.
Zemo wants to bring the Thunderbolts back into the Masters of Evil. His plan is to use Kobik as a “key to limitless power” and achieve “a future that will be defined by those willing to take hold of it.”
The Masters of Evil parade a battered, bruised Bucky into the room, much to the shock of his teammates.
An angry Songbird breaks Kobik free of her prison and Kobik, distressed by Bucky’s state, rushes to his side, promising that she can fix it.
“Let me fix everything,” she says after Bucky tells her he can’t seem to stop making mistakes.
They vanish in an enormous flash of light, and a fight ensues between the Masters of Evil and a couple of the Thunderbirds who are unwilling to join them.
When Bucky comes to, he discovers that Kobik’s version of fixing “everything” is taking him back to the beginning — literally. He’s transported back into his young body from when he was Captain America’s sidekick during World War II.
The difference between a Bucky from the past and a Bucky from the future (other than, y’know, the decades of torture and being used as a weapon of mass destruction) is that Bucky now has an opportunity to stop Captain America from making it to the future as an agent of HYDRA. There’s a very good chance that — after he’s done freaking out — Bucky will be able to redeem Steve Rogers and bring him back to the side of good before the launch of Marvel’s Secret Empire. And, perhaps, he’ll be able to save himself from ever having had to endure being the Winter Soldier.
Thunderbolts #10 is now available from comic book retailers.