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.
Our patriotic hero leapt into 1968 and 1969 as a man in love, as well as a man hunted by one of the most fantastical clutches of villains ever, including the worst of them all, the Red Skull.
In TALES OF SUSPENSE #97, Cap received a call from far-off Wakanda to aid its monarch, the Black Panther, against a world-burning solar ray, as seen in TALES OF SUSPENSE #98. No longer an Avenger, Captain America rushed off on his own only to discover a hated foe behind the weapon of destruction: the thought-dead Baron Zemo. The masked maniac tried to wipe out the entire United States in TALES OF SUSPENSE #99, but Cap and the Panther found much-needed help in the form of Agent 13.
Finally in his own magazine, the Star-Spangled Avenger battled Zemo in CAPTAIN AMERICA #100 and discovered the villain himself seemingly still dead, replaced by an imposter. The Red Skull returned in CAPTAIN AMERICA #101, along with a fourth Sleeper robot, one that soon went berserk and struck out on its own. Cap met a group of Nazis called the Exiles in CAPTAIN AMERICA #102, and alongside Agent 13 defeated the Sleeper with the use of a special crystal key.
Agent 13 revealed her real name, Sharon Carter, to the man she loved in CAPTAIN AMERICA #103, but found herself kidnapped by the Exiles and used as bait to capture the Sentinel of Liberty. After the duo’s escape from the Island of Exiles, the Red Skull tortured his enemy from afar in CAPTAIN AMERICA #104 and forced Cap to return and face the Nazis in combat.
Batroc the Leaper made trouble for Cap in CAPTAIN AMERICA #105 along with the Living Laser and the Swordsman, while the Communist Chinese crafted an exact, murderous duplicate of Steve Rogers in CAPTAIN AMERICA #106.
The enigmatic Dr. Faustus made his debut in CAPTAIN AMERICA #107 as a psychiatrist who attempted to drive our hero mad with, among other hallucinations, images of long-dead Bucky Barnes. Finally, to wrap up the year, the Red Skull hired the Trapster to snare Cap in his nigh-unbreakable paste.
A retelling of Cap’s origin in CAPTAIN AMERICA #109 kicked off 1969, and in CAPTAIN AMERICA #110, Steve Rogers took on Rick Jones as his new sidekick. The two confronted Hydra and their leader, Madame Hydra, but the terrorist group captured Rick in CAPTAIN AMERICA #111 and the super-soldier managed to win back his secret identity by tricking the world into believing
Steve Rogers to have been only a false persona. With their friend and compatriot supposedly dead in CAPTAIN AMERICA #112, the Avengers vowed to—what else?—avenge him. Cap turned up alive after his own funeral in CAPTAIN AMERICA #113 and went onto join with Sharon Carter once more to battle A.I.M. in CAPTAIN AMERICA #114.
But the Red Skull turned up again, too.
The Skull, with the Cosmic Cube in his grasp, materialized before Cap’s eyes in CAPTAIN AMERICA #115 and executed one of his most devious schemes yet: he switched identities with his longtime foe. Now, as Captain America, the villain transported Steve Rogers—in the form of the Skull—to Exile Island in CAPTAIN AMERICA #116, but there he met a most incredible person, the man who’d become the hero known as the Falcon.
Cap began to train the Falcon to fight in CAPTAIN AMERICA #117, and together they lead the charge against the Exiles in CAPTAIN AMERICA #118. After living it up in style as his nemesis, the Red Skull took on his own form again in CAPTAIN AMERICA #119 and brought Cap and the Falcon to his castle for a final showdown, won by the heroes.
Back in the United States in CAPTAIN AMERICA #120, Steve Rogers bid a fond farewell to his new-found friend the Falcon then began to investigate some turmoil on a college campus, all the while facing front to march into a brand new decade.