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.
What a way to end a decade: In 1989 our hero regained his title and his most hated foe, reverted back to childhood, traveled the globe, and found a new love.
In CAPTAIN AMERICA #349, Steve Rogers—temporarily “The Captain”—tracked down his replacement, John Walker, in the clutches of Flag Smasher, an adventure that almost cost the life of Steve’s friend, D-Man. Then, with Earth’s usual Mightiest Heroes out of the picture, Rogers founded a new team in AVENGERS #300, consisting of himself, Sue and Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four, Thor, and the mysterious Gilgamesh.
Many things finally came to a head in CAPTAIN AMERICA #350 when our hero clashed with Walker for the right to be Captain America. Rogers won and regained the title, costume, and shield, but in the wings waited the Red Skull, resurrected in a body cloned from Steve himself and a face permanently shriveled to look like a skull courtesy of the villain’s own devilish poison gas. Walker handed over his ill-gotten role as Cap in a televised ceremony in CAPTAIN AMERICA #351, then fell to an assassin’s bullet.
The real Cap tested some young heroes for Avengers-suitability in CAPTAIN AMERICA #352, then heard a request for asylum from three Soviet Super-Soldiers. Those Russian heroes found defeat at the hands of their own countrymen, the Soviet Supreme, in CAPTAIN AMERICA #353. So Cap flew to Russia to demand answers, only to involve himself in a mystery concerning a supernatural bear.
John Walker returned in CAPTAIN AMERICA #354, explaining his murder as a staged production and his new costumed identity as the government’s U.S. Agent. Cap heard Bernie Rosenthal’s plea to find her missing little sister in CAPTAIN AMERICA #355, he asked fellow Avenger Sersi to use her powers to de-age him for an infiltration of a camp of runaways. Mother Night ran the compound, as seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA #356, and she and Sin, the daughter of the Red Skull, easily defeated the teenage Cap. Rogers gained the upper hand in CAPTAIN AMERICA #357, but elsewhere Baron Zemo and Batroc’s Brigade began their hunt for the shattered pieces of the mystical Bloodstone.
With Diamondback as his ally, Cap headed to South America and an Incan temple in CAPTAIN AMERICA #358 to try and recover a piece of the stone ahead of the bad guys. Things turned topsy-turvy for everyone with an attack by a lost tribe in CAPTAIN AMERICA #359. From Bermuda, Cap and Diamondback flew to Egypt in CAPTAIN AMERICA #360 to hunt for more shards of the stone, but gained a new enemy in the hulking Crossbones.
The Living Mummy shook things up in Egypt for our heroes in CAPTAIN AMERICA #361, but when Zemo used the energies of the artifact—the Hellfire Helix—to try and bring the original Baron Zemo back from the dead in CAPTAIN AMERICA #362, Cap objected vociferously.
Crossbones nabbed Diamondback in Madripoor in CAPTAIN AMERICA #363, while Cap wondered if romance might be in the cards between him and his new partner. After being trapped with a bomb in an abandoned building in CAPTAIN AMERICA #364, Cap reluctantly fought his old Invaders teammate Namor the Sub-Mariner in CAPTAIN AMERICA #365, the sea king hypnotized by the Red Skull.
Steve Rogers capped off his year by witnessing the destruction of Hydrobase, the Avengers’ new headquarters, in AVENGERS #311, a preamble to the Acts of Vengeance.