Things had been going pretty well for James “Bucky” Barnes recently. He’s a member of the Avengers — the “real” Avengers — for the first time. His girlfriend’s the Black Widow, and, perhaps most importantly, Steve Rogers retired his Captain America guise, leaving Bucky the only, official iteration of the patriotic icon. Well, things aren’t looking so rosy for the guy starting with October’s Captain America #611, the first chapter of a five-issue Marvel Comics storyline called “The Trial of Captain America” from long-running series writer Ed Brubaker and artist Butch Guice.

Since late May’s issue #606, Baron Helmut Zemo has been looking to disturb and discredit Bucky through an elaborate plan involving an attack on Falcon and drugging Bucky into mindlessly attacking police officers. At the end of last month’s #607, Zemo acquires a film strip reel labeled “Project: Winter Soldier” — referring to Bucky’s codename used when he was a brainwashed Soviet assassin. The American public-at-large has no clue the current Captain America was a tool for the Soviets for years, and probably wouldn’t be too psyched to find out.

Given the title “The Trial of Captain America,” we can reasonably assume that Zemo’s plot worked. What we can’t be so sure about is what happens next, so that’s why we consulted with Brubaker, the author responsible for both bringing back Bucky in the first place and making him Captain America.

Newsarama: Not looking to spoil anything, but clearly if Captain America is on trial, Zemo's currently unfolding plot to discredit Bucky has worked. What is it about Zemo, personality-wise or intellect-wise, that makes him able to succeed in his attempt to undermine Bucky, where other villains might not?

Ed Brubaker: You'll just have to read the next few issues of Cap to find out how things go down with Zemo and Bucky. It becomes obvious at the end of the next issue what his goal is.

Nrama: Staying on Zemo a bit — will he continue to be making his presence felt during the events of "The Trial of Captain America," or is he mostly out of the picture at that point?

Brubaker: He'll still be around.

Nrama: Other than Zemo, then, who would be the primary antagonists — the prosecution? The public? Bucky's past? Maybe someone else pulling the strings?

Brubaker: Boy, I sure wish I could answer that, but that's pretty much what the entire arc is about — the prosecution, is someone pulling the strings, etc.

Nrama: The trial itself actually seems fairly cut and dry — Bucky was brainwashed during his time as a Soviet assassin, and reasonably, it seems that in a fair trial, and that’s a lot to assume, cooler heads should prevail and realize that he wasn't responsible for his actions. Not to mention presumably having the most respected names in the Marvel Universe vouch for him. So is the challenge in proving that he was indeed being brainwashed? Or is simply having the truth come out damaging enough, no matter what the result of the trial may be? Or does something happen between now and then that stacks the deck against him in a pretty severe way?

Brubaker: Again, a question that gets right to the heart of the plot and character stuff we'll be exploring in the next arc. All I can say is that I’ve looked at previous superhero trials and their issues and charges and that this one is going to approach it from a different angle.

Nrama: Speaking of people vouching for Bucky — Black Widow, Falcon, Steve Rogers — what role might they play in this storyline? Are they going to be "character witnesses" for Cap?

Brubaker: They'll be a big part of this story, obviously, although I'm not sure who good a character witness Black Widow would be, ex-soviet spy, ex-supervillain. I suppose she could vouch for the reformed part.

Nrama: Any chance we'll see other characters from the MU come out either for or against Bucky during the trial? (Though Marvel's most famous attorney is rather busy leading a clan of mystical ninja assassins at the moment.)

Brubaker: Yeah, we should see a pretty full court coming to his defense on the superhero community side.

But how much effect will they have in a court of law is the question, especially since Matt Murdock can't be his attorney.

Nrama: Black Widow was just lecturing Bucky about being lax with his secret identity in #607. Looks like it's going to get out at some point real soon — when the public learns of Bucky's past, do they, by and large, immediately turn on him?

Brubaker: I can't comment.

Nrama: Conceptually, is this trial maybe the final "test" for Bucky to truly earn the mantle of being the one and only Cap? Putting his past to rest and moving on?

Brubaker: I wouldn't say that, no. It's a consequence of all the things he's done and that have happened to him. But how he deals with it will show his true character.

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