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 Sentinel of Liberty took on a new protégé of sorts in 1983 as he came up against even more weird menaces, old foes with old grudges, the deaths of two friends, and a message from the future that delivered incredible danger for our hero’s present.
Captured by a man that seemed to be his deceased enemy Baron Zemo in CAPTAIN AMERICA #277, Steve Rogers fought his way through several levels of danger, only to witness the death of his old friend Arnie Roth’s partner, and Cap felt solely responsible for the devastating loss. To make matters worse, the masked man truly responsible turned out to be Zemo’s son, as evil as his father in every way. Cap foiled the new Zemo’s schemes in CAPTAIN AMERICA #278, but his seeming failure to protect innocent lives still stung.
Arnim Zola’s creation, the shape-shifting Primus, attacked in CAPTAIN AMERICA #279 and kidnapped Steve’s girlfriend Bernie, only to be talked down by the young woman and fly off with his tail between his legs. The frightening figure of the Scarecrow spread his particular brand of darkness over CAPTAIN AMERICA #280 as the now-insane criminal targeted employees of the Coalition for an Upstanding America, a group that sought Cap’s endorsement.
Our hero thought the 1950’s Bucky dead, but Jack Monroe returned in CAPTAIN AMERICA #281 to seek the living legend’s help in finding his way in a strange new world. Cap took the former sidekick under his wing and together they faced off against the wily Constrictor. In CAPTAIN AMERICA #282, Monroe adopted the name and costume of Nomad, an identity once worn by Steve Rogers himself. At that same time, Cap’s old war buddy Dum Dum Dugan suffered a heart attack and Rogers succumbed to the Viper’s powerful mind-altering drug.
While Cap struggled under the femme fatale’s power in CAPTAIN AMERICA #283, Constrictor rebelled against the Viper’s iron-fisted rule and helped the hero foil her elaborate plan to destroy a small town in Illinois with virus-filled balloons. Dugan recovered in CAPTAIN AMERICA #284 and Nick Fury promoted the old soldier to the position of Deputy Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. for his attention to duty. Meanwhile, Cap and the new Nomad continued to work together as a team.
The Patriot, a stalwart hero from Cap’s World War II days, finally lost his battle with cancer in CAPTAIN AMERICA #285 while the Sentinel of Liberty went up against the villainous Porcupine in a dangerous gambit of his making. Then, a soldier from the future, Luther Manning, traveled to the present in CAPTAIN AMERICA #286 with orders from his superior to search for his alter-ego, the lost cyborg Deathlok. Cap offered to help Manning, but when they found the cyborg, it shot Manning and killed him at a raid at a Roxxon facility. Deathlok’s faded memories ultimately returned in CAPTAIN AMERICA #287, and then he traveled back to his original future time with Cap to delve into a mystery surrounding the heroes of the latter’s time and their fabled disappearance.
Cap wrapped up his year with CAPTAIN AMERICA #288 in Deathlok’s alternate, nuclear-devastated future. There, he aided a resistance effort against a power-mad dictator, while in the present his girlfriend Bernie grew angrier over Steve’s absence and Nomad found himself duped by a pretty face.