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.
In 1987 it all came to a crashing halt for the living legend. Captain America, broken and beaten, threw in the towel after a series of battles that proved to be some of his greatest.
Captured by Baron Zemo and the new Masters of Evil, Captain America lay helpless in Avengers Mansion in AVENGERS #275 as the villains gleefully smashed everything Earth’s Mightiest Heroes held dear, beginning with their beloved butler, Jarvis. Cap freed himself in AVENGERS #276, but not before Zemo destroyed precious mementoes of his, including his original shield and the only surviving photo of his mother. By AVENGERS #277, it took a one-on-one clash between Zemo and our hero to settle a multitude of scores.
Nomad returned in CAPTAIN AMERICA #325 to take down a drug lord called Slug, but shocked Cap with the extent of his violence in doing so. Later, the hero investigated Skull-House, the former stronghold of the Red Skull, in CAPTAIN AMERICA #326, but found only ghosts and his old foe Dr. Faustus.
At Ameri-Aid, a benefit concert that played out in CAPTAIN AMERICA #327, Cap ran into John Walker, the Super-Patriot, again. This led to an investigation into the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation in CAPTAIN AMERICA #328 and the revelation of the Power Broker, a mysterious figure doling out superhuman abilities to people like Walker and Dennis Dunphy, a wrestler known as Demolition Man. Meanwhile, our hero accepted the role of acting chairman of the Avengers in AVENGERS #278.
After an encounter with the criminal Sweat Shop group in CAPTAIN AMERICA #329, Cap discovered the Power Broker to be Curtiss Jackson, a figure from his past and a member of the Corporation. It took some assistance from the Shroud and his Night Shift to finally bring down the Power Broker, almost at the cost of D-Man’s life. Then, one more angle of the case presented itself in CAPTAIN AMERICA #331, in the guise of G.I. Max, a government agent meant to replace Captain America.
In CAPTAIN AMERICA #332, the federal government issued their ultimatum: either Steve Rogers honored the papers he’d signed back in 1940 and become an official operative of the United States or forfeit everything. After long deliberation and deep thoughts, Rogers turned in his uniform and shield and effectively resigned his status as the Sentinel of Liberty. Waiting in the wings, John Walker looked forward to his own elevation into the coveted role. That came about in CAPTAIN AMERICA #333.
The new Cap found he couldn’t master the use of the famous shield in CAPTAIN AMERICA #334, so the government called in the mercenary Taskmaster to train him. They also appointed Walker’s former partner Lemar Hoskins as the new Bucky, later to be called Battlestar. Together, the duo swung into action in in CAPTAIN AMERICA #335 to combat the Watchdogs, a team of right-wing agitators whose opinions on morality and socio-political topics Walker actually agreed with.
But what of Steve Rogers? At loose ends and compelled to continue to be a hero, in CAPTAIN AMERICA #336 he decided his destiny drew him to once again don a costume and fight for his country.