What You Need to Know: Nomad

Published on September 10th, 2009

If you would have told me 13 years ago that Rob Liefeld’s Bucky (Rikki Barnes) would still be around in 2009 and be getting her own miniseries, I would have laughed in your face.  Goes to show what I know about the staying power of Rob Liefeld creations.  So who is this Rikki Barnes?

250px-young_alliesBack in the 1990’s when Marvel was bankrupt one of their crazier ideas to increase their profits was to license out some of their characters to other publishers.  So off to Image went The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, and The Avengers for a year to be refreshed and revitalized by Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld.  This proto-Ulimate experiment was called Heroes Reborn, where each creator was given pretty much carte blanche with the characters.

While Rob Liefeld made some cosmetic changes to Cap (he ditched the head ‘A’, made his blood green, and made his feet smaller), the biggest change was Bucky.  Instead of being a World War 2 solider best known for being blown up by a missile, Liefeld’s Bucky (Rikki Barnes) was a 16 year-old girl from New York.  An aspiring dancer, Rikki spent most of her time hanging out on her stoop until her brother decided to become a neo-nazi.  After following her brother to the nazi meeting place, she found herself in the middle of a Captain America Red Skull battle.  And, after proving herself to Captain America, she became his new Bucky.  Then in 1997, the heroes returned to their native universe and Bucky was ready to be lost in the backwaters of comic continuity.

Around the turn of the century, Marvel returned to this ‘Heroes Reborn’ universe, showing what happened to it after the top heroes left.  In this disaster-torn world, Rikki started her own band of heroes called The Young Allies and continued to fight the good fight in honor of Captain America and all the fallen heroes.  Later it was revealed that this other universe was actually just another Earth (cleverly called the Counter-Earth) on the other side of the Sun.  After a few run ins with the Thunderbolts (the version of the team lead by Hawkeye), this Counter-Earth drifted back into the mists of comic history and hasn’t been heard from since.

Now here’s where things get a little screwy.

In 2006, Marvel released Onslaught Reborn by Jeph Loeb and Rob Liefeld, which featured a return to the Heroes Reborn universe.  Except it wasn’t what the disaster-torn world that been seen before; instead it was a world that the top tier heroes never left.  Then after a skirmish with the titular villain, Rikki found herself stranded in the Marvel Universe Philadelphia.

So, in essence, the Rikki Barnes that has a new miniseries this month isn’t the Rikki Barnes that first appeared over a decade ago, instead it’s an alternate version of that Rikki.  Aren’t comics fun?

Now, lost in a world that’s not hers, she’s taken on a new name (Nomad) and is on a mission to find the current Captain America.

You can follow these adventures in the new mini-series Nomad: Girl Without a World by Sean McKeever (Teen Titans, Gravity) and David Baldeon (Marvel Adventures Avengers).

Matt Jackson