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.
The Bicentennial year proved to be a blast for Cap—in more ways than one. With fireworks a plenty to light his way in 1976, our hero engaged in some of his wildest battles ever with his partner the Falcon at his side.
Madness gripped the city as 1976 opened in CAPTAIN AMERICA #193 and Cap and the Falcon raced to destroy a “mad bomb” that threatened everyone around it. In a pow-wow with S.H.I.E.L.D., the heroes learned that the real threat came from “Big Daddy,” the madness bomb that could literally destroy everything. Prepped for their mission to seek out and destroy, Cap and Falc flew to the badlands of South Dakota in CAPTAIN AMERICA #194 while the bomb’s sponsor, William Taurey, desired a return to pre-Revolutionary days for the country.
Stuck inside the enemy’s base, Cap met Cheer Chadwick and received a tour of the area in CAPTAIN AMERICA #195. Cheer then insisted that the heroes become combatants in a grueling “arena” of freakish gladiators, the “Kill-Derby.” Separated from his trusty shield, Cap found himself forced to fight the gladiator that held the valuable prize in CAPTAIN AMERICA #196. Our hero won the match in CAPTAIN AMERICA #197, refused a cache of gold as his reward, and helped the United States Army in its raid on the base. Meanwhile, the mad bomb still loomed over all as the time of its detonation approached.
Cap found time to aid the Avengers in a raid on the Roxxon Corporation in AVENGERS #144, an adventure that transformed former-model Patsy Walker into a new super heroine, the Hellcat.
On the trail of the mad bomb’s maker, Cap seemed to fall in love with the man’s daughter, Carol Harding, in CAPTAIN AMERICA #198. He told the girl about the bomb and then saved her from Taurey’s booby-trapped car in CAPTAIN AMERICA #199. Harding himself turned on Taurey eventually, but the clock kept right on ticking. While Cap invaded Taurey’s estate in CAPTAIN AMERICA #200, the Falcon flew to Philadelphia to tackle “Big Daddy” directly, and when he overloaded the bomb with sonics, he managed to destroy it. Back at his estate, Taurey flubbed a duel with Captain America, branding him forever as a coward.
Cap reunited with an old comrade from World War II, the Whizzer, in AVENGERS #153, but the man’s muddled mind drove him to attack the heroes instead of welcoming them.
To get at the Falcon, the outcast Night People abducted Falc’s girlfriend Leila in CAPTAIN AMERICA #201 and took her and the hero through a strange portal into their even stranger dimension, “Zero Street.” There, the creatures subjected the two to mind-wipes in CAPTAIN AMERICA #202, making them part of their clan. Cap investigated his partner’s disappearance while Falcon fought a monster that threatened the Night People.
Cap and a self-styled adventurer called Texas Jack entered Zero Street in CAPTAIN AMERICA #203, only to confront a mind-wiped Falcon. When more of the monsters assaulted the Night People, our hero figured out a way to get the whole kit and caboodle back to Earth and destroy the planetoid, and the monsters with it.
In CAPTAIN AMERICA #204, Falc and Leila still suffered from their memory-loss. While Cap wrestled with his feelings for S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, Falcon fought a weird menace that called him Agron and claimed to be from the far-future.