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.
Captain America wrapped up the 1970’s with two jam-packed years of running, jumping, and fighting; all part of his search for himself and the unlocking of long-buried memories from his past.
The sprawling Korvac saga began in AVENGERS #167, a challenging time for Cap and his teammates as they went up against a near-omnipotent being and even lost their lives at one point. They wrapped up the case in AVENGERS #177 when Korvac ended his own existence after he saw the horror from the slaughter on his lover’s face and restored the Avengers to life in the process.
The Falcon chose to train a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. “super-agents” in CAPTAIN AMERICA #217 while Cap began his quest for his past in CAPTAIN AMERICA #218. This lead him into a confrontation with a man named Dekker, who revealed his part in Steve Rogers’ World War II days, in CAPTAIN AMERICA #219. Allied with the Red Skull, Dekker schemed to drain Cap’s powers into himself, an action which created the colossal Ameridroid in CAPTAIN AMERICA #220 and #221. Our hero soon showed him the error of his ways in a desperate showdown in frozen Newfoundland.
A mysterious woman called Veda made an attempt on Cap’s life in CAPTAIN AMERICA #222, but failed. The Sentinel of Liberty fought what he believed to be the Lincoln Memorial’s statue comes to life, but in reality the creature behind it answered to the moniker “Animus.” Steve began to suspect Veda’s treachery in CAPTAIN AMERICA #223, but became far more concerned with his confusing past and the mental blocks that obscured it. After blanking out on a mission in CAPTAIN AMERICA #224, he went after the Tarantula and Senor Muerte to halt their transportation of a Madbomb.
In CAPTAIN AMERICA #225, Mason Harding unlocked Cap’s memories, learning new details of Operation: Rebirth and Agent R’s participation thereof. After losing his super-soldier abilities from the mind-treatment he received, Steve regained them in battle with a training robot in CAPTAIN AMERICA #226, which came in handy when he also went up against an army of Red Skulls. To save his old friend Nick Fury, Cap got to the bottom of the Skull problem in CAPTAIN AMERICA #227, and managed to save S.H.I.E.L.D.’s helicarrier in the process.
Then, with his former partner Falcon missing, Cap fell deeper into a mystery surrounding the ominous Corporation in CAPTAIN AMERICA #228. Discovering a mole in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Super-Agents, Steve finally tracked down Falc in CAPTAIN AMERICA #229. Cap and the remaining Super-Agents raided the former prison island of Alcatraz to rescue Falcon in CAPTAIN AMERICA #230, gaining the Hulk as an ally on that mission.
Cap helped the Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver look into their own origins in AVENGERS #185, a situation which unlocked a demonic personality in Wanda, bringing much pain and torture to the team in AVENGERS #187.
The evil Grand Director and his National Force reared their racist heads in CAPTAIN AMERICA #231 to incite violence and hatred in New York City. Harlem stood as their target and when Cap raced to head off the group’s march on the neighborhood in CAPTAIN AMERICA #232, he stood in disbelief when he discovered his lover, Sharon Carter, as a card-carrying member of National Force. Sharon saw to Steve’s brainwashing in CAPTAIN AMERICA #233, while local super hero Daredevil swung in to investigate. Turns out Cap’s old enemy Dr. Faustus lurked behind the scenes, manipulating events and orchestrating Sharon’s seeming demise.
With his mind finally clear in CAPTAIN AMERICA #234, Cap uncovered the Grand Director’s true identity: the man who replaced him as Captain America in the 1950’s. Together with Daredevil, he battled Faustus and the Director in CAPTAIN AMERICA #235 and #236, finally seeing to the doctor’s defeat and witnessing the former 50’s Cap’s shocking suicide.
Steve Rogers rose from the ashes of his many struggles to start a new life in CAPTAIN AMERICA #237. That new life included a career as an artist and a new place to live, complete with a whole new cast of neighbors, one of which told of Captain America’s freeing of her and other survivors from a World War II concentration camp. As the decade came to a close in CAPTAIN AMERICA #238, Cap flew to the artic on a mission for Nick Fury to rescue a powerful telepath held captive there, an adventure that spilled over into CAPTAIN AMERICA #239. His year ended stuck in the middle of a Coney Island gang war in CAPTAIN AMERICA #240.