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.
A new decade brought new perils and new problems to the living legend, from a deadly series of attacks from the Earth’s greatest super villains and a drug war on the streets to the very source of Captain America’s stamina and strength.
As the Acts of Vengeance continued, the Red Skull pitted Iron Man’s enemy The Controller against Cap in CAPTAIN AMERICA #366, then laughed as the flames grew higher in AVENGERS #313. Our hero freed his friend Namor from the Controller’s schemes in CAPTAIN AMERICA #367, while the mutant menace Magneto took out his frustrations over Nazi persecution during World War II on the Skull. Ultimately, he sealed Cap’s nemesis in an old fallout shelter and walked away.
In the aftermath of the Acts, Machinesmith and Crossbones attempted to lure Magneto back out into the open by plaguing Washington D.C. with a robot double in CAPTAIN AMERICA #368. Meanwhile Cap launched himself into space in AVENGERS #315 along with Avengers candidate Spider-Man to put an end to space villainess Nebula’s plans for cosmic domination. That sprawling battle would extend into AVENGERS #318.
Back on Earth, Cap and his new love, the former criminal Diamondback, found themselves stuck in the middle of a skirmish between the Skeleton Crew and the Hellfire Club in CAPTAIN AMERICA #369. The Crew sought to rescue their leader, the Red Skull, but that didn’t come about until CAPTAIN AMERICA #370, while Cap and Diamondback investigated strange new goings-on at the assumed-vacated Skull House.
After many adventures together, Steve Rogers and Rachel—aka Diamondback—headed out on a “normal” date in CAPTAIN AMERICA #371, with a little help from their friends to keep the trouble around them down to a dull roar.
Back as Cap again, Steve went after a street gang making and pushing a new illicit drug called Ice in CAPTAIN AMERICA #372. Across town, Daredevil’s longtime foe Bullseye escaped from prison, a situation seized upon by The Kingpin in CAPTAIN AMERICA #373. Cap’s Avengers teammate the Black Widow took a dislike to Diamondback and went toe-to-toe with her before cooler heads prevailed.
When Cap got too close to a factory producing Ice and suffered an injury in an explosion there, he seemed “off” to his compatriots in CAPTAIN AMERICA #374. This led to an unfortunate battle with Daredevil in CAPTAIN AMERICA #375, and his further mental disintegration in CAPTAIN AMERICA #376. The Kingpin also escalated his drug war with the Red Skull.
Hank Pym rushed in to help Cap in CAPTAIN AMERICA #377, setting the ailing Sentinel of Liberty up with a complete blood transfusion to free him from the effects of Ice mingling with his legendary Super-Soldier serum. Unfortunately, by the time Pym finished, no traces of the original serum remained in Cap’s blood. In CAPTAIN AMERICA #378, once the war wrapped up, Cap decided to move forward without reinstating the serum and make his way as a more-or-less normal man.
Fellow Avenger Quasar flew in to aid Cap against a duo of Moonstones—the original the newest—in CAPTAIN AMERICA #379, but while occupied, Steve lost Rachel to a bold kidnapping by her old cronies, the Serpent Society. The year ended with Diamondback on trial before her peers, accused of going over to the other side—the “wrong” side.