By Jim Beard
Over seven decades ago, history occurred with the debut of Captain America in 1941. 70 years later, Steve Rogers and his star-spangled alter ego have grown to iconic status, remaining a mainstay of the Marvel Universe while also expanding into the realms of television, film and more.
On April 4, 2014, the Sentinel of Liberty returns to the big screen in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" from Marvel Studios. As the countdown to Chris Evans picking up the shield once more heats up, we present the definitive comics history of Cap, from his debut to the modern day.
Frozen in ice since the final days of World War II, Captain America awoke in a strange new world and made a new path while confronting untold dangers. Fortunately, he had a little help from Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the halcyon years of 1964 and 1965 to see him through.
The Avengers discovered a man encased in ice floating in the sea in AVENGERS #4—the legendary Captain America, World War II’s greatest champion. Thawing him out, they welcomed him as a full member of the team and he proved himself many times over while in battle with the Hulk in AVENGERS #5 and his old nemesis Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil in AVENGERS #6. Rick Jones, the Avengers’ unofficial mascot, dreamed of becoming the new Bucky in AVENGERS #7, but Cap wanted none of it and threw himself into his work as the team faced Kang the Conqueror in AVENGERS #8 and Zemo again in AVENGERS #9.
Our hero contemplated his present and future in TALES OF SUSPENSE #59 while an organized crime boss planned an attack on Avengers Mansion, figuring wrongly that Cap represented the team’s “weakest link.” Rick Jones proved his worth as an ally in TALES OF SUSPENSE #60 when Zemo sent assassins with Formula X to bring Captain America down.
The Sentinel of Liberty traveled to Vietnam in TALES OF SUSPENSE #61 to confront an evil general who held American POWs, and then put down a prison takeover in TALES OF SUSPENSE ##62. After one too many skirmishes with Baron Zemo, the villain seemed to perish in AVENGERS #15, affording Cap some closure in his quest for revenge for Bucky’s death. With the pressures of their personal lives weighing heavily on them in AVENGERS #16, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes took leaves of absence from the team and left the keys to the mansion as well as an entirely new set of members in Captain America’s capable hands. By AVENGERS #22, the stress and strain that existed between our hero and his fellow Avengers became too great and Cap disbanded the group.
In TALES OF SUSPENSE #64 we learned of Captain America’s heretofore unknown World II adventures, such as his fight against Nazi agents Sando and Omar and his first meeting with the beautiful and mysterious Agent 13. After a battle with the Red Skull in TALES OF SUSPENSE #65, Cap heard his enemy’s secret origin from the man himself and became brainwashed to kill the Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies in TALES OF SUSPENSE #66, a mission that failed thanks to Bucky’s quick-thinking in TALES OF SUSPENSE #67 and #68.
A weird adventure at creepy Greymoor Castle in TALES OF SUSPENSE #69 and #70 led to Cap launching a German V-2 rocket right back at its owners in occupied France in TALES OF SUSPENSE #71, then back in the present day, a gigantic armored Nazi Sleeper robot awoke in a remote Bavarian village, setting off a chain of events for Captain America that set him upon one of his most dangerous missions yet.