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 other Monday and Thor Essentials every Thursday as we head toward the release of each film!And for even more on "Captain America: The First Avenger" visit the film's official teaser site as well as its hub page right here on Marvel.com!
By Jim Beard
|The Adventures of Captain America #1|
The story of the scrawny young man who’s chosen to become a symbol for his country has become a classic, one we love to interact with again and again. In 1991, writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Kevin Maguire produced an amazing four-part series, THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA, which not only retold the hero’s origin but re-imagined and refreshed the tale for a new generation of fans.
Adding new detail and new characters, Nicieza and Maguire told their story in a way that echoed the movie serials of the 1940s, most specifically the 1944 “Captain America” chapter play. With grand film style and exciting cliffhangers, the creative duo plotted their limited series in a way that made you look breathlessly towards the next chapter. It also reminded the world of the greatness of Cap’s beginnings as a young patriot.
In some ways, THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA served as a predecessor of this July’s big-screen “Captain America: The First Avenger” blockbuster. It too will tell of Cap’s earliest days and the amazing events that lead to his life as America’s greatest hero.
|Steve Rogers transformed|
Young Steve Rogers ranked as a scarecrow, albeit a patriotic one. Ridiculed by his friends as a “flag waver,” Steve watched the atrocities of the coming war in the newsreels and burned inside. Marching off to the recruiting station to join up, he received the bad news: 4F, a definite “no thanks.” But as we know, fate intervened, and approached by General Phillips and Colonel Fletcher young, idealistic Steve became the test subject for Professor Erskine’s “super soldier” experiment.
The series delivered a naïve Steve Rogers who had a few things to learn about the wider world, but once in the role as Captain America his natural heroism had quickly shone through. We also witnessed the first signs of Steve’s artistic talents and his awkwardness around the female of the species.
|Lieutenant Cynthia Glass|
Nicieza and Maguire introduced a completely new character to Cap’s origin in the shapely form of Lieutenant Cynthia Glass. An integral part of the whole top-secret Super Soldier program, Cindy’s orders included taking Steve Rogers in hand and making sure he hit his marks. Sassy and forthright, she swiftly fell into the middle of the Nazis’ plot to grab Erskine’s formulas for themselves and demanded that Cap take her with him on the adventure. Her pretty face opened a few doors in Steve’s heart, but unfortunately her dark secrets also closed a few…forever.
|Captain America and Bucky|
James Buchanan Barnes strutted through the series as the camp mascot where Steve Rogers found himself assigned after the Super Soldier experiment turned him into a strongman. Bucky came off as a real con man, the go-to guy for everything a soldier could want, including booze and cigarettes…and emergency flights to France. Just like Cindy, once Bucky learned of Steve Rogers’ intentions to rescue Colonel Fletcher from his Nazi kidnappers he insisted on going along for the ride. After the adventure, the boy became Captain America’s sidekick for many an exciting tale to come.
…and a Few Enemies
|The Red Skull|
What would a hero be without a villain? Captain America kicked off his career with a doozy of an opponent: the Red Skull. Steve learned of the evil Nazi mastermind through the newsreels and without missing a beat desired to smash his scarlet-hued face. After a thrilling journey to occupied France in search of a kidnapped Army colonel, Cap fell into the clutches of the Skull and the Nazi’s master, Adolf Hitler. In an immense arena, the Red Skull contrived a battle wherein he hoped to show the world the inherent weaknesses of the Americans’ new hero. Sadly for the Skull, Captain America had much to fight for and proved to be the stronger man.
The series also introduced a new clutch of villains who went by the collective name of the Vernichtung-Kommandos. Hand-picked by the Red Skull and Hitler, these Nazi nasties--Blitzkrieg, Zahnmorder and Saurespritze--made life pretty rough for the young Captain America with their mastery of electricity, deadly gases and implements of torture. But perhaps the deadliest, most insidious opponent for Steve answered to the mysterious moniker of Agent X…
Sound cool? Well, check out THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA #1-4 for all these exciting events and much, much more!