It’s an issue from after the war, after Steve Rogers was gone and Captain America became a character that didn’t have a name outside of museum exhibitions. James- he can’t stomach going by the name Bucky yet, the name painfully dredges up images of a man with a broken face begging him to complete his mission- picks it out of the box carefully, as if it’s something as fragile as the memories he’s recovered.
The cover features the Captain in a brilliantly colored suit of what looks like star-spangled spandex punching a nazi in the face. Behind him are the howling commandos, all fighting their own battles, and a younger looking man in a blue coat with red tights and a mask covering his eyes. He frowns, wondering who the character is, and flips the cover open.
The pages have Captain America calling the man in the mask Bucky, and James desperately wants to throw the thing away from him, but he can’t stop reading it, morbid fascination taking over. These people, these names, they’re haunting him, even when he tries to get away, to remember who he is without superheroes and spies and secret government agencies.
He’s been going by the assumed name James Anderson to avoid red flags, he wears sunglasses and a cap when he goes out in public, pays for everything in cash, and even when the world can’t find him, the memories won’t leave him alone. He’s beginning to feel like he’ll never get to know who he is, because the damned ghost of Bucky is everywhere.
On the last page of the comic, a cheery beaming Bucky the Sidekick reassures a troubled Captain America that he’s the best superhero ever, and James wants to roll his eyes, until he gets to the last line.
"After all, what would I be without you, Captain?" the character says worshipfully, and something in his chest aches. he puts the comic down slowly. He thinks there might be someone he needs to go have a talk with.