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.
Though still a man out of time, Captain America soldiered on through the strenuous year of 1972 to confront not only those who would bring an end to his constant fight for liberty, but also a past that threatened to change his present and future life forever.
Watching as the love of your life falls under an insidious attack would seem no way to begin your year, but Captain America experienced such turmoil when his girlfriend Sharon Carter took on immense injuries from the terrorist group HYDRA in CAPTAIN AMERICA #145. HYDRA then daringly attempted to kidnap
Sharon from her hospital bed as a way to get to Cap in CAPTAIN AMERICA #146, but our hero stuck it out and won the day.
In CAPTAIN AMERICA #147, the terrorists’ leader, the Supreme Hydra, stood revealed as Richard Fisk, the wayward son of the Kingpin of Crime himself. Through a series of further revelations, Cap learned of the Kingpin’s role in the Las Vegas branch of HYDRA which then led him to root out none other than the Red Skull as the grand mastermind in CAPTAIN AMERICA #148. The Skull retaliated by activating the dread Fifth Sleeper, a destructive robot that proved an arduous challenge for the star-spangled hero.
Steve Rogers returned to duty with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in AVENGERS #95, as the sprawling Kree-Skrull War dragged him into its clutches and swept him out into space in AVENGERS #96. Rick Jones, once Steve’s partner, came to the rescue of all in AVENGERS #97 and Cap took his rightful place once more alongside his fellow heroes for further adventures.
The disappearance of scores of children led Captain America to the doorstep of the French mercenary Batroc in CAPTAIN AMERICA #149. The leaping villain discovered he’d been hired by an alien posing as the mysterious Stranger, who in reality hailed from a dying world that needed the children’s life energies. The real stranger arrived in the nick of time to whisk the poseur Jakar away from the fury of Cap and Batroc in CAPTAIN AMERICA #150.
Steve went head-to-head with S.H.I.E.L.D. commander Nick Fury, his old World War II comrade, during a scuffle in CAPTAIN AMERICA #153 that ended with Cap taking off with Sharon on an extended vacation. The Falcon stumbled onto one of the strangest scenes he’d encountered since becoming a crimefighter: Captain America beating up a black man on the streets, aide and abetted by a youngster called Bucky. Investigating, Falcon fell prey to the duo’s attack and found himself tortured for information on the real Steve Rogers in CAPTAIN AMERICA #154.
Falc’s lady love Leila and his rival Rafe rescued him and together they made their way to the Avengers to alert them about the nasty events. The real Cap made his entrance once again in CAPTAIN AMERICA #155 to confront his duplicate and, after being defeated by him, a strange story began to emerge to explain this seeming duplicate Steve Rogers.
Turns out that after Cap plunged into suspended animation in the last days of the war, the U.S. government created a stand-in for the hero. With plastic surgery to transform him into another Steve, the new Cap with Bucky faced off against Communist adversaries in the 1950’s, but grew mentally unstable from the incomplete super-soldier serum provided for them. After years in artificial slumber, they’d awakened to wreak havoc on the world.
At the end of his year, the real Captain America fought his 1950’s carbon copy in CAPTAIN AMERICA #156 and proved once again that there’s just no replacing the original.