With the release of "Thor" on May 6, 2011 and "Captain America: The First Avenger" on July 22, 2011, Marvel.com presents the Essentials, a series of articles showcasing each character's expansive history and mythology in the Marvel comics.
From character retrospectives to a look at memorable storylines and interviews with key creators, the Essentials will act as the perfect guide for fans both old and new! Look for new Cap Essentials every Monday and Thor Essentials every Thursday as we head toward the release of each film!
|Cap and his allies|
By Jim Beard
Though as American as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie, Captain America ranged far and wide during the tumultuous days of World War II and found himself in many other countries. Often times, he sought aid in his struggles from the champions of those far-off lands and, being Captain America, he got it.
We salute Cap’s wartime foreign allies with a brief look at the most prominent from among these stalwarts--heroism is universal!
|Union Jack bursts onto the scene|
As proudly as Cap wore the colors of his country, so too did James Montgomery Falsworth sport the Union Jack of merry olde England. The first Union Jack fought for his country in World War I and though he tried to retire thereafter, Lord Falsworth answered the call of duty once again in World War II. His athletic ability and keen skills in covert operations earned him a place alongside Captain America in the Invaders, the Allies’ premiere super hero team.
After a debilitating accident, Falsworth passed the Union Jack mantle onto his son Brian, who’d been operating as the super hero called the Destroyer. At first, the second Union Jack possessed no special powers but a variation of Cap’s Super Soldier serum endowed him with superhuman strength and endurance. Later, he gained electrical powers and survived the war as a member of the Invaders and the V-Battalion.
Union Jack I first appeared in INVADERS #7 and his son in INVADERS #18, both of which may be found in INVADERS CLASSICS VOL. 1 & 2. We also highly recommend checking out CAPTAIN AMERICA: WAR AND REMEMBERANCE which collects the story of the deaths of the first two Union Jacks and the rise of the third told in CAPTAIN AMERICA #253-254.
Heroism and loyalty to one’s own country ran in the Falsworth family, as proven in the case of the first Union Jack’s daughter, Jacqueline. Bitten by the vampiric Baron Blood during World War II, Jackie hovered at death’s door until a blood transfusion from the android Human Torch gave her the power of superhuman speed and agility. Taking the name of the war’s most agile flying craft, the Spitfire, she proudly accepted Captain America’s invitation to join the Invaders.
Spitfire operated as a special agent of the British crown as well as with the Invaders during the war and fell into all sorts of sticky wickets. Once the fighting ended, she retired but came out of retirement in modern times with the help of another transfusion from the Human Torch. Now youthful and possessing her full powers, Jackie joined MI-13, the British secret service, and renewed her ties with both Captain America and the Invaders--and still struggled with her vampiric heritage.
The Black Panther
|Captain America and Azzari, the Black Panther|
Though you may be familiar with T’Challa, the modern-day Black Panther, during World War II the mantle of Wakanda’s champion fell upon the strong shoulders of Azzari the Wise, T’Challa’s grandfather. The Nazi war machine attempted an invasion of the small African nation to seize their natural resource of Vibranium, but Captain America teamed with the Golden Age Black Panther to stem their terrible tide. Cap’s friendship with the Panther family was founded during those stressful times.
The entire story of this heretofore untold adventure of an earlier Black Panther and his ties to Captain America during World War II can be consumed in CAPTAIN AMERICA/BLACK PANTHER: FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, collecting the four-issue limited series of the same name. We heartily recommend it to action lovers of all stripes!
|The original Citizen V|
Yes, we realize that the evil Baron Helmut Zemo masqueraded as a Citizen V in modern times, but the real, original hero operated out of England during the war as a daring adventurer and champion of victory. A decorated British soldier, he became Citizen V to rally French freedom fighters against the Nazi occupation, which brought him into contact with Captain America. Together, the heroes rushed into a conflict with the first Baron Zemo, who later murdered Citizen V. Other family members took up the name and their ancestor’s rally for freedom.
Look to GOLDEN AGE DARING MYSTERY VOL. 2 for the first appearance of Citizen V, and then check out his team-up with Cap in the CAPTAIN AMERICA/CITIZEN V 1998 ANNUAL.
|Monako, Prince of Magic|
The Golden Age of the Marvel Universe encompassed other overseas heroes, such as the French adventurer Magar the Mystic, and the British private investigator known as Dakor the Magician and the magical Monako, also a British citizen. Whether any of these courageous men met Captain America and fought by his side currently resides in the realm of speculation--as more classified documents from the war surface, we may discover more untold tales of those trying times.
Magar first appeared in RED RAVEN COMICS #1, Dakor in MYSTIC COMICS #1 and Monako in DARING MYSTERY COMICS #1, which incidentally can be found in GOLDEN AGE DARING MYSTERY MASTERWORKS Vol. 1.