Captain America (Origns)
From the brookly boy without a home, to the american hero of the states Captain America is one of the most iconic superheroes, and the logo.
After the outbreak of World War II in Europe, a young HYDRA agent disguised as an American patriot named Steve Rogers attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army but was rejected, due to his skinny, anemic physique, and was classified 4-F. However, he garnered the attention of certain people including scientist Doctor Abraham Erskinewho was searching for suitable volunteers/test subjects for a top secret experimental program designed to create an army of Super-Soldiers. As a result of Operation: Rebirth, Steve Rogers gained speed, strength, flexibility, endurance and agility of nearly superhuman levels. These heightened abilities coupled with his unwavering courage and “never say die” attitude eventually made him Captain America, a living legend.
For information on the Captain America that substituted for Steve Rogers when the latter apparently “died” in 2007 see the Bucky Barnes character page.
Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as a response to the booming popularity of patriotically-themed super heroes in the 1940’s. Though it was rare for any character, let alone a new one, to get a self-named title in those days, he debuted in Captain America Comics #1 (March,1941). He was depicted fighting Adolph Hitler himself on the cover even though the United States had not yet entered World War II and wouldn’t for another 9 months. Debuting along with Captain America in this comic was his teenage partner Bucky, and his arch-enemy the Red Skull. This issue sold nearly one million copies and Captain America soon became Marvel’s best-selling character.
“Cap” (the nickname he came to affectionately be called) spent World War II punching, kicking and defeating Nazis, Japanese, and other Axis members. In addition to help from Bucky, he battled the Axis forces alongside other Marvel (Timely) stalwarts: the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch. Simon and Kirby did ten issues before leaving Timely to work for DC. When the war eventually ended, superheroes fell out of favor and comics sales declined. Captain America Comics was printed up to issue #75, but by then it had become a horror book and soon ended.
Captain America was revived by one of his original co-creators Jack Kirby and Stan Lee during 1964 in issue #4 of the Avengers. This was the start of Cap as we know him. He became an instant hit and was soon leading the Avengers. A short time later he shared and co-headlined a comic called “Tales of Suspense” along with fellow Avenger Iron Man. He has since become one of the cornerstones of the Marvel Universe and even transcended comics becoming a true American icon. Additionally, Captain America has been recreated many times over the years in comics featuring stories that take place in alternate universes. One of the most well-known alternate universe versions of Captain America is in the Ultimate Universe.
On July 4, 1920, Steven Rogers was born to a pair of Irish immigrants. Steve was always a courageous kid as well as a diligent student, but he wasn’t very athletic and he was quiet and introverted, because he was so skinny. Although he would eventually grow to 6’2, he was scrawny and weak, always last in athletic games (much like one Peter Parker, that would be born much later). A target for bullies as he grew up, he was protected by his best friend Arnie Roth, and, on at least one occasion, by neighborhood tough-guy Duvid Fortunov. Though it wasn’t apparent at the time, he possessed fierce loyalty, a courageous fighting spirit and a noble heart. Knowing he had no future in athletics, Steve majored in fine arts and was an exceptionally talented artist specializing in illustration.
When he tried to join the U.S. military Steve was immediately rejected due to him being physically too skinny and classified as “4-F.” Steve was puny and didn’t even come close to passing the mandatory physical exam for induction, although he wanted with all his life to serve his country, he was rejected and stamped out. It seemed there was nothing he could do. He eventually made an impression on the Army recruiters and trainers, however, when he convinced them just how desperately he wanted to do his part, and how it was his dream to fight for America against the Axis powers. Steve caught the attention of an officer who was looking for men to volunteer as test subjects for an experimental program which was part of a top-secret defense plan known to only a dozen men or less. The experimental program was called Operation: Rebirth. The plan was to create physically superior soldiers with a new serum dubbed the Super-Soldier Formula. If it worked, it would make ordinary men into super soldiers. They would become perfect physical beings; possessing strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, and recuperative powers that bordered near the upper limits of human evolutionary potential.
After a rigorous process to choose a suitable candidate, Steve Rogers was chosen to be the first man whom the Super Soldier Serum would be administered to. It was Dr. Abraham Erskine who had developed the process, and it was he who administered it to Rogers. Rogers was injected with the Super Soldier Serum and was then bathed in Vita-Rays which activated and stabilized the serum’s chemicals in his system.
The process worked perfectly; Steve Rogers’ entire physical being was boosted to the maximum of human potential and efficiency. In addition, he virtually doubled in size as millions of new cells were created almost instantaneously. His muscle strength, flexibility and reflexes improved to the peak of human potential. Steve marveled, he had become the ultimate specimen of human physical power and ability as all weakness and deficiencies drained from his body. Just then, a Nazi spy burst in with a gun. He cried “Hail Hitler” and shot Erskine through the head. In order to keep Nazi spies from obtaining it, Erskine hadn’t written down the serum’s ingredients, along with much of the procedure, having instead committed it to memory. Therefore the secret of the Super Soldier Serum died with him. Steve Rogers would be the only Super-Soldier. He chased after and caught the Nazi spy who’d assassinated Erskine and broke his neck, killing him. He then vowed to use his power to fight the enemies of America and become a symbol of freedom.
The U.S government, disappointed at the loss of their planned super soldier army was determined to use Rogers to his fullest potential. To this end, they decided to use him as a superhero to fight the Nazis; to become a symbol of freedom and hope against Nazi forces as well as a counter-intelligence agent. He also would be their answer to and main weapon against the leader of the Nazi terrorist operations – the Red Skull. The U.S. Government gave him a costume based on the American flag, an unbreakable shield (given to him by President Franklin Roosevelt), a sidearm, and the name Captain America. From that point on, Steve Rogers was Captain America. A short time later he was stationed on an army base in Virginia serving as Private Steve Rogers.
While there he continued his extensive training and was deployed several times both domestically and abroad on covert missions. When on base as private, Steve purposely developed a persona and reputation as a clumsy soon-to-be soldier. It was also during this period that he meets Bucky Barnes – a young teenager who accidentally found out that Steve Rogers was secretly Captain America. With the U.S. Federal Governments permission, Steve trains Bucky and makes him his sidekick. Captain America and Bucky became a formidable fighting duo during World War II.
The two fight crime and Nazis on their own and, after Pearl Harbor, help found the Invaders, an Allied superhero team that fought against the Axis and their super-powered agents. The Invaders were featured in a comic book of their own in the 1970s. Recently, it has been stated that Bucky was already being trained when Steve/Captain America met him at the military base, hence, his being able to fight side-by-side with Cap almost immediately despite not having any super-powers.
During a mission to the African nation of Wakanda, Cap met King T’Chaka, the then-current Black Panther (this was later retconned into being Azzari, T’Chaka’s father). As a show of good faith, the Black Panther gave Cap a small amount of the rare metal vibranium, which would be used to construct his iconic shield. In return, Cap gave the Panther his original, triangular shield, which would be held on display in Wakanda for decades to come.
A few years passed, and, in part due to Captain America and the Invaders’ contributions, by 1945 the war was drawing to an end in Europe with the Allies driving the Axis troops out of the countries they had occupied.
With the Nazis retreating Cap and Bucky were on a routine mission trying to stop the evil Baron Heinrich Zemo from harming civilians using an unmanned drone plane. The patriotic duo engaged Zemo and his troops but before he was could be stopped Zemo managed to launch the drone plane up into the air towards allied forces armed with a huge bomb. Racing towards the plane as it was about to launch, Captain America and Bucky managed to jump onto it so they could try to defuse the bomb. Cap realized they couldn’t defuse it in time and tried to get Bucky, who was closer to the bomb, to jump off. Tragically, the bomb exploded and seemingly killed Bucky while throwing Captain America into the freezing waters of the north Atlantic Ocean. All searches to rescue or recover them failed and both were eventually presumed dead. Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes were both believed to be dead for many years, and efforts to replace them were attempted to varying degrees of success.
With Captain America presumed dead (though actually frozen in a block of ice) the U.S. Government decided that Captain America was a valuable public relations tool that was still needed. Even though the war was won, they figured if the American public found out Cap was dead, their morale would be severely diminished, something that could not be risked while Japan continued to fight Allied forces in the Pacific. As it would turn out several replacements were needed to try to carry the mantle of “Captain America.”
The first replacement the U.S. Government recruited was formerly the Spirit of ’76, a patriotic superhero whose physical abilities were similar, but less than, those of Captain America. His partner, a new “Bucky”, was Fred Davis, a very athletic but still normal young man. This Captain America and Bucky team operated very well fighting crime, communism and aiding other super-heroes (working with the All-Winners Squad). Unfortunately this Captain America’s tour of duty ended when Adam II (an android) killed him in 1946.
The U.S. Government still felt having a “Captain America” was necessary so they again recruited one. This next replacement Captain America was the Patriot, Jeff Mace, another Golden Age/World War II super-hero. This Captain America also had a partner code-named “Bucky” but, unfortunately, two years into their stint this “Bucky” was shot in the legs, sustaining injuries that prohibited him from being Bucky any longer. Yet another former super-hero, this time the female, Golden Girl, became Cap’s crime-fighting, commie-busting partner until they both quit to marry each other. Determining that replacing Captain America and Bucky properly was quite difficult as well as risky to his iconic reputation, the U.S. Government finally let the idea fade and there was no Captain America and no Bucky.
In the 1950s, there was a brief run of the Captain America comic where, in keeping with the spirit of the times and the newly started ‘Cold War’ with communist Russiaand China, Captain America becomes a more aggressive, conservative, communist-fighting character. When the real Captain America made his return in the ’60s, the appearance of the ’50s Cap was left unexplained, until Steve Englehartstarted on the book.
In 1953, a man named William Burnsidefound the lost formula for the Super-Soldier Serum in Nazi files in a Germanwarehouse. This man idolized and almost worshiped Captain America. He had a Ph.D. in American History and he had done his thesis on Captain America. He immediately tells the government about the formula in exchange for becoming the next Captain America. He underwent plastic surgery to look like Steve Rogers and was set to be the symbol for the Korean War. However, the project was never finished, so “Steve Rogers” became a teacher.
While teaching, he finds a young student named Jack Monroe (eventually known as Nomad) who also is a huge Captain America fan. They use the formula on themselves and became the new Captain America and Bucky. They fight Communism, but they didn’t know of the Vita-Ray process that was required to stabilize the recipient after taking the super soldier formula. Since they don’t take it, it affected their minds and they became overly paranoid, attacking anyone they even have the slightest suspicion of being a Communist, seeing threats to America where none existed. The government quickly realized they were out of control, and shut them down, placing them in suspended animation. Years later they are freed by a disgruntled government employee. Newly awakened in the 1970’s, they confront the real Captain America and his new partner, the Falcon.
Regarding the differences that underpinned this confrontation, Steve says, “In this case, the comics mirrored their eras; the late ’30s-early ’40s Cap was a liberal and the early ’50s Cap was a conservative. The first one looked up to Roosevelt; the second looked up to McCarthy. That’s about as fundamental as it gets.” Thus, it was not only a physical battle, but a battle of ideologies in which Cap confronted the impostor with just how out of touch and extreme he has become, and in doing so, manages to defeat him.
Ironically, it was Cap’s former Invaders teammate, Namor the Sub-Mariner, who finds an Inuit tribe worshiping a frozen figure in a block of ice near the icy waters of the North Atlantic. Namor, seemingly enraged that they are worshiping an inanimate object, lifts the block of ice and hurls it into the sea. Apparently damaged by the impact of hitting the water, the ice began breaking apart revealing the frozen figure within as a man. The Avengers, who are still in the area, after battling the Hulk and Namor, spot this man floating in the water and pull him aboard their craft. They soon recognized the iconic uniform the man wore beneath his torn and tattered clothing and identified him. He was Steve Rogers, Captain America! The Avengers determined he was still alive and they revived him. Upon becoming conscious, Captain America didn’t recognize any of the Avengers so he assumed they were Nazis and immediately sprung into action battling the entire team alone. Fortunately, the battle and misunderstanding ended quickly.
From his impossibly youthful appearance and actions after his revival the Avengers determined he had been preserved in a state of suspended animation while frozen in the ice. Though he was out of his own time and unfamiliar with the modern world he is still at his. Recognizing his value as skilled fighter in combat, a great tactician, and a natural leader; the Avengers invite Captain America to join their team. The Living Legend of World War II accepted, and soon became team leader, a position he has held more times than anybody else. This was quickly followed by his own monthly gig in the Tales of Suspense anthology, wherein he shared equal billing with Iron Man. He was involved in the Avengers’ first great roster shakeup, where he led a team consisting of himself, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye. During the final arc of Tales of Suspense before it was renamed Captain America, Cap met and befriended the African hero Black Panther, beginning a friendship that would last many years.
Cap appears in an extended run by Stan and Jack in which Captain America leads the Avengers for a long time, fighting their enemies and some of his old enemies-such as Baron Zemo. He finds out what had happened to Bucky, his young World War II partner, and is devastated. He was grief-stricken for many years. Shortly after Captain America’s revival, honorary Avenger Rick Jones convinces Cap to let him become the new Bucky and partners with him for a short time. Captain America doesn’t want to be responsible for another young partner’s death. Just as he relents, and allows Rick to assume the Bucky identity, the Red Skull (Cap’s arch-enemy from World War II) uses the Cosmic Cubeto drive Bucky away. Afterwards, the title’s creative reins transferred over to Jim Steranko. A Silver Age stylist who helped redefine comic art expectations. One of his greatest Marvel triumphs was in the pages of Captain America! The issues of Cap #110, 111, 113 were packed with high drama, proportion expanding page layouts, and Steranko’s sultry, spy-oriented action.
When Steve learns that the Phoenix Force is coming for Hope and learns that Cyclops is ready to take the risk and will allow the Force to come to Hope, he right away takes the Avengers to Utopia to tell Scott that that is too risky and they cannot take such a big risk. When Cyclops tells Steve that the Phoenix Force has being doing only good during the years, Cap tells him the risks and Cyclops starts the attack against Steve Rogers and the Avengers.Later when Steve sees that they cannot win this war he uses their only hope, Wanda Maximoff. They are able to take Hope but a lot of Avengers are being held captive in a prison in Utopia.Later when Steve has no other hope he tries to gather the Illuminati again but not all of them come, Namor is the one that doesn’t come but the others come and go because they don’t have hope or they believe that the Phoenix Force is actually good. But later when everybody’s gone Namor comes.
Captain America is featured in his own title, where he is abducted by Arnim Zola’s minion to his own dimension, called Dimension Z. There he saves Arnim Zola’s infant son, Leopold, from his own father’s terror. Captain America raises Leopold as his own son, naming him Ian. After ten years time, still trapped in Dimension Z, Zola retrieves his long lost son, brainwashing him to hate Captain America and love the will of Zola. While getting out of Dimension Z Ian was shot by Sharron Carter and left for dead but unknown by Captain America Ian survived and has now become Nomad. Sharon Carter was also left for dead in Dimension Z but no one has seen her body to confirm it.
Captain America also recruits the latest roster of The Avengers together with Tony Stark. He is himself part of the team as team leader. During an incident involving Universal Incursions, Captain America attempts to use the Infinity Gauntlet to solve the problem, but fails. During a subsequent argument about what path the Illuminati should take, he is mindwiped by Doctor Strange and expelled from the group.
After Avengers vs. X-Men he tries to show the world that mutants and humans can work together, so he founds the Avengers Unity Squad, consisting of himself and Thor, Wolverine, Scarlet Witch, Rogue and Havok, the leader of the team.