Celebrating another Marvel Movie Milestone Event!
Today, we check out check out six different Captain America #1 issues and Blast to the Past for a selection of Cap appearances. Enjoy and spread the word!
If you're heading to the theaters this weekend, chances are you're probably going to go to Harry Potter again. I'm no help for you there. If you're thinking about hitting Captain America: The First Avenger, I am your man. This column, I'll be giving you a look at Cap's first appearance, a slew of Captain America #1's, and some choice Cap tales from his illustrious career. We even get a special appearance by the Outhouse's own, bkthomson, who reads the latest Captain America #1 for us!
If you like what you see and want to read more, I'm all set up for that action. You can check in on YEARS worth of comics and funny panels right at THIS LINK.
Before we dive right into the nitty and the gritty, let's look at who Captain America is. You might like this little primer. Captain America is Steve Rogers, a Depression Era New Yorker who was determined to fight for what he believed was right during World War II. Unfortunately, his spirit was willing but his body was weak. He was turned away multiple times when attempting to volunteer for military service. This caught the eyes of the right kind of people, and Rogers was able to volunteer his services as a guinea pig for the Super-Soldier program. The experiment was a success; but because of a Nazi saboteur, the lead scientist in the experiment, Abraham Erskine, was killed. Because Erskine kept a key part of the Super-Soldier formula in his head, there would be no other Super-Soldiers. Steve Rogers served throughout the war as Captain America but towards the end of conflict, he was lost under mysterious circumstances.
It turns out he actually fell into the cool arctic waters and got flash frozen for FAR too many years. During one of the Avengers first battles, they happened across his body, and fished it of the waters. Cap woke up fighting mad, and ready to serve his nation and the world once more. Today, he is a World War II vet who pulls double-duty as Captain America and the Director of National Security.
So now you know the basics. Let's get you caught up on some specifics!
Captain America Comics #1
Writer: Joe Simon
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this story:
• Nazi saboteurs join the US Army and blow things up!
• President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sends two top ranking generals with FBI head, J Arthur Grover, to look on as America starts its super soldier program!
• Steve Rogers becomes America's fighting symbol!
• One of those top ranking generals? A spy. He kills the professor heading the program and the super soldier serum is destroyed at the same time.
• Rogers fights back! The spy is killed in his panic to escape!
• Steve Rogers dons the suit of Captain America and becomes a symbol of the nation. He also becomes a Private in the Army!
• Camp mascot, Bucky Barnes, figures out who Private Rogers really is and gets dragged into the super-hero game!
The date was March, 1941. If I'm correct and publishing works the same way it does now, it means this issue probably came out in January. The United States didn't officially enter World War II until December after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Atlas Comics had already chosen their side. Wrapping their hero in the good old red, white, and blue, artist Jack Kirby and writer Joe Simon unveiled their answer to the Nazi threat. Captain America.
Now, it should be obvious that I don't own an original copy of Captain America Comics #1. That would be WAY too much money. Fortunately, there are many legal means to read this Golden Age Classic. It is available in quite a few trade paperbacks and hard cover comics, the latest of which being the Oversized Hardcover of Fallen Son. Since I don't have any extra money, I went straight to Marvel.com and checked out the free preview digital comic available there. At the time this was written, it was free to read and I suggested people go check it out instead of reading my walkthrough. Now, you're stuck with me.
War probably seemed inevitable to many people living in the early forties. Lots of people were signing up for the army, preparing for that inevitability. This issue opens up with such a scene and shows just how bad it could go. Not only are patriotic Americans signing up but spies and saboteurs are in their midst, using false identification papers to join up. Once in the military, it's easy for those Nazi sympathizers to blow up munitions factories and stall our war build-up.
The situation is so dire that it leads to a meeting directly with the President, Franklin Delano "New Deal" Roosevelt. The President meets with two top ranking military officers and learns that things are beyond bad. Spies are so prevalent that no secret is safe. The defense effort is grinding to a halt. Roosevelt jokes that maybe it's time to get a comic book character to join the army... someone like the Human Torch.
All jokes aside, FDR has something in mind to help national defense and he believes these two are trustworthy enough to be let in on his little secret. He sends for J Arthur Grover, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This is, of course, a stand-in for J Edgar Hoover. Grover leads the military men out of the room and directs them to dress in civilian clothes for the next length of their journey.
The New Deal is well underway but we all know from our history books that the United States hadn't fully recovered from the Great Depression at the time they entered World War II. Grover and his companions enter a run down part of town, advancing on an evil-looking curio shop. Inside, an old hag of a lady reaches for her gun but, recognizing Grover, puts it away and leads the three deeper inside the shop than could possibly exist if this wasn't a secret base.
Their journey ends in a heavily guarded science lab where they are just in time to witness the birth of a living legend. They also witness the unmasking of that old hag, who turns out to be a beautiful young lady code named X-13. They all sit down in an observation room and await the miracle of comicbook science.
Only now do we finally meet our title character, and even then we still aren't given his name. A skinny young man is brought into the lab. The lead scientist, who we will later know as Professor Reinstein, administers a shot of "a strange seething liquid" to a willing patient. Reinstein is, again, a stand in, this time for Albert Einstein but he meets a more violent end than his real life counterpart. Reinstein explains that this volunteer before them was declared unfit for duty. Now, with the help of the serum just injected into his body, the volunteer will become stronger and smarter than ever before. As they watch, the future Captain America's form alters, until he is rippling with muscles.
Professor Reinstein presents the very first super soldier that he will create for the United States. His serum seems to have been proven successful. The Professor gives our volunteer the name "Captain America", because he will represent the strength of America when he charges into battle.
Unfortunately, spies really are everywhere. One of the military men brought in by J Arthur Grover proves to be less-than-loyal to his nation. Pulling a gun, our traitor draws his pistol, shooting both the good professor and the serum. Both are now destroyed with the implication that there will be no more super soldiers.
Grover and X-13 grab their own guns and try to apprehend the traitor. The FBI head ends up with a bullet in the chest for the effort. X-13 isn't given the chance for vengeance. That duty is for Captain America. Cap drags the spy right out of the observation room and starts slugging his opponent around the lab. Thoroughly beaten, the traitor staggers around, falling into some lab equipment. He never successfully escapes this innocent trap. There are live wires buried in the equipment that electrocute the man on the spot. Sure, Cap didn't kill, him but no-one regrets the loss of the traitor who took away America's chance for a super army.
After this origin story, Captain America finds himself a costume and a triangle-shaped shield, and begins taking down the many spy rings that plague the American military machine. His super-hero name makes it into all the papers.
All of this somehow leads us to the United States Army's Camp Lehigh. It is here where we meet Private Steve Rogers and Camp mascot, Bucky Barnes. Bucky is all excited about the appearances of Captain America and the prospect of meeting the star-spangled hero. Private Rogers muses over this possibility.
It's only a matter of time before Bucky walks into Steve's tent to see the Private is impersonating a Captain.
In the pages of Detective Comics, kid mascots like Robin had become so successful that there was little doubt about Cap winding up with his very own. Bucky puts on his own patriotic costume and gets the very secret moniker of... "Bucky." No one's ever going to add those numbers up and make the connection.
And thus, the adventures of Captain America and Bucky begin.
This story ends with a little ad where you can join Captain America's Sentinels of Liberty for the low, low price of ten cents! That gets you a swanky membership card! Now you, too, can look for subversive elements in society and save us from the threats that lie... within.
Writer: Joe Simon
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this story:
• Sando and Omar predict destruction right before it happens!
• Steve and Bucky take in a show and try to prevent one of these predicted attacks before it happens!
• Failing that, they attack Sando and his goons!
• Captain America and Bucky are captured and meet the American Spy, Betty Ross!
• Betty reveals the master plan of Sando, who's real name is Von Krantz.
• Cap and Bucky free themselves and make short work of the bad guys.
• The heroes leave before one of them gets accidentally kissed by Ross!
This comic was FILLED with adventure! In Golden Age books like this, we get TONS of stories for that delicious little dime. This comic features four illustrated Captain America tales as well as one written story. There's also an interesting yarn featuring the "son of Thor," Hurricane and a prehistoric serial involving Tuk, the caveboy. For sanity's sake, we'll just be covering the Captain America stories.
War still hadn't been declared between the United States and the Axis powers, so Cap didn't have much he could do besides taking down spy rings and playing soldier. In this lull, we meet Sando and Omar, one of those curious side shows where a yellow midget, Omar, is forced to predict disasterous events in the near future. This show is such a hit that it gathers quite a crown and even takes up theater space. This is before television really hit the big time and apparently seeing a movie was nothing compared to watching Omar predict death and destruction.
For example, right here, Omar is predicting the destruction of Fort Bix. The crowd is skeptical but all it takes is a nearby radio to tell them all about the terrible event that has just occured at the military fort. While tank manuevers were taking place, the entire fort was leveled in an explosive blast. Stuff like this just makes the act more popular. Now everyone wants to attend to hear what horrors will happen in the nearby future.
Two such people are Private Steve Rogers and his child companion, Bucky Barnes. They've heard the news about this show and Rogers has decided that it deserved further investigation. While they wait patiently in the theater audience, the press is hounding Sando near his dressing room to see if they can find out what the trick to this show is. Sando, in a heavy German accent, explains that they'll have to watch the show to experience the magic.
This time, Omar predicts the collapse of the Hilltown Bridge. Steve and Bucky waste no time in switching to their alter-egos and racing off to see about preventing this tragedy. They never make it in time. The Hilltown Bridge is rocked in an explosive attack. Cars plummet into the river below.
Cap and Bucky swing around and return to the theater. They're not in the mood to politely question Sando and his yellow midget pet, Omar, about how they're predicting these attacks. The two heroes have already drawn the conclusion that this little act is BEHIND the attacks. Cap doesn't need proof to back up those claims. He storms the stage and demands answers.
When he hears a woman's scream coming from Sando's dressing room, Captain America socks Sando in the face (to... prevent his escape?) and runs off to save a lady's life. Entering the dressing room, Cap finds himself falling right into Sando's trap. Guns are pulled on him. It looks like this is the end for old Captain America, right? Sure, why not.
Somewhere along the line, Bucky also managed to get himself captured even though it didn't look like Bucky had followed Steve. At any rate, the two heroes are being held down by other members of Sando's sabotage ring. That lady screaming? It's the hot blonde in the red suit. She introduces herself as Betty Ross. She's been investigating Sando and Omar for the government. She's described as "familiar" which means that she MIGHT be the same FBI Agent we met in the earlier adventure. She could have been meant to be the same lady but history will make the two very different characters. Betty Ross will become Golden Girl (not to be confused with Bea Arthur), an eventual side-kick to Captain America. X-13 would later be known as Peggy Carter, who at this point in time is the aunt of Steve's current girlfriend, Sharon Carter. I say "this point in time" because Sharon was once the younger sister of Peggy Carter before too much time passed to make that a possibility. Eventually, even "niece" will seem far-fetched.
ANYWAY, where was I? Oh yeah. Our heroes captured. Beautiful blonde introduced. Now, it's time for Sando to re-enter the scene. Cap clocked him a good one back on the stage and for that, Sando swears some sort of vengeance on the patriotic hero. He also starts the monologue process which is so popular in comics. It turns out his real name isn't "Sando" at all. It's "Von Krantz." He has been behind a number of critical attacks on the nation and it's defenses in a plan to demoralize our country and leave it ripe for invasion. Betty Ross fills in the rest. Von Krantz works for the Gestapo. She's been investigating the "Sando and Omar" act, and found that Von Krantz has been using the poor little Omar to predict these attacks.
Now, you're probably asking yourself, "why in the hell would they have a stage show to predict their own attacks on the nation? Wouldn't that just leave themselves as primary suspects in these terrorist actions?" Of course it would! This is a stupid plan! Don't even try to justify it Super! Just walk away... except, y'know... they did draw up the attention to these attacks with their dog and pony show... it was STILL stupid but they made these actions hard to put on page ten of the paper... OK, that's the only justification I can try for. You can send your No-Prize to me now, Marvel.
Cap has heard enough so he stops playing at being captured. He easily breaks out of the grasp of the two men holding him. Bucky swings his supposed captor over his head. Our heroes are free and it's time to deliver some justice!
The two partners make short work of the Gestapo agents. Von Krantz has one last trick up his sleeve, however. It's a bomb! The kind with a fuse! I love the Golden Age! It doesn't really matter. Bucky easily disarms the Nazi and tosses the bomb out the window where it can blow up some innocent pedestrians. With Von Krantz and his minions beaten, and poor Omar terrified in the corner peeing his guts out in fear, Cap leaves Better Ross to mop things up.
Betty doesn't want the patriot to run off and tries to keep him there with the promise of "thanking him for his help." But even the implication that a kiss (or more) is in his future isn't enough to keep Steve in the room. He and Bucky jump out the window and race off into the night. No time for love, Dr. Jones.
In this story:
• Steve wakes up from a fitful sleep and makes sure his boy sidekick is ok!
• He realizes that the sentry's watch has been disturbed and finds a man DEAD!
• Cap comes across men trying to poison the Army's soup!
• The bad guys are captured, the Colonel is happy, Steve and Bucky are winking at each other!
Back in the Golden Age, it was required that any publication like these comic book things had to have an actual, written story inside them. For some reason. I can't exactly remember why. Even right into the Silver Age you'll see written adventures taking place inside some of your comics. That is why the first issue of Captain America Comics has a two page written tale.
I'm not going to go into as much depth on this. It's a standard adventure piece where Steve wakes up in the middle of the night and doesn't really know why he's woken up. After checking on his partner, who sleeps right next to him (and that's not creepy OR disturbing), he realizes that the reason he woke up is because the guard pattern changed. He checks outside his tent and finds one of the soldiers on guard duty has been killed.
He changes into his Cap suit and looks around for the reason for this death.
In the mess tent, two mobsters/saboteurs are poisoning the soup. Cap stops them at the last minute. Bucky joins him and the two partners beat the tar out of the criminals. They escape the scene just before the rest of the guards arrive to apprehend the bad guys.
After the mobsters are questioned, they find that Cap and Bucky were involved. The Colonel makes a big deal about this to his men, musing that Captain America could be among them at any time. He notices Steve and Bucky exchanging glances and winks but doesn't question them on it no matter how icky it looks.
Writer: Joe Simon
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this story:
• Herr Rathcone plays chess with the lives of military leaders!
• Rathcone's assassination squad kill Admiral Perkins and the body is put on display before a surprised and sickened audience!
• Cap and Bucky take chase and one of the assassins is killed!
• Rathcone's assassination squad sends Herr Strangler to kill General Ellsworth!
• Private Steve Rogers is put on guard duty and finds the dead body of Gen. Ellsworth!
• Rathcone decides to take Captain America and Bucky... ALIVE!
• Bucky is taken without even a struggle!
Captain America charges in and rescues his partner, taking out Herr Rathcone in the process!
• Cap and Bucky take on the rest of the assassins and beat down Rathcone one last time!
Meet Herr Rathcone, the presumed future Führer of the United States. He likes to play chess but his rules are much more like checkers. No matter. He thinks he's some sort of master strategist but don't ask me what his complicated game of chess has to do with the actual plotting. All he really does is plays chess with custom made statues of his enemies and announce to his assassination squad who will be killed next. There's no real planning involved. It's just "kill this dude!" and his team goes to work.
In this instance, Rathcone is announcing the death notice for Admiral Perkins. His trusty assistant, Her Kamelon, assigns the hit to Agents 15 and 3. One of the two wonders why they've never been allowed to see Rathcone. Kamelon covers for his master like the loyal minion he is.
In a lecture hall, Private Steve Rogers and Camp Lehigh mascot, Bucky Barnes, are looking for a seat. This particular lecture is by Admiral Perkin himself. You might wonder why two relatively unimportant people like a Private and a Camp mascot would be attending such a lecture when they're surrounded by higher ranked military men. Bucky's kind of wondering that himself. The short answer is that Steve and Bucky are there because the lecture could be important to their roles as Captain America and... Bucky. Man, that codename sucks.
The curtain is pulled back to reveal... the dead body of Admiral Perkins!
The crowd goes nuts. They want blood. Steve is smart enough to know that whoever pulled this stunt is already out of the building. He and Bucky suit up and start the chase. Miraculously, they actually catch the assassin. Bucky catches up to the man first and fights him. While Bucky uses his fists, the assassin has a knife. The assassin is laughing over this because he believes he'll get two kills in one night.
He's not laughing long. Captain America joins the fight and suddenly the tables are turned. With the assassin in their hands, Cap demands answers. Of course, those answers are going to require a bit of choking but that's all in a days work for the defender of democracy. It's only after the assassin agrees to talk that the second assassin shoots him. Cap lifts up his shield to block any bullets that might hit him, but that doesn't spare the life of the captured killer.
The second assassin drives off before Captain America and his partner can catch him. The two return to Camp Lehigh.
Back at Rathcone's secret base, the not-so-future-Führer plots his next victim. This time, it'll be General Ellsworth. This announcement goes out to his men and Kamelon sends out Herr Strangler, Number 13, to do the job.
At Camp Lehigh, Private Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes have returned and are relaxing after their failed attempt to capture an assassin. Steve is smoking his pipe. He pretty much does this whenever he can. His sergeant sees this slacking attitude and sends the private off to guard duty at General Ellsworth's tent. You see where this is going, right?
Steve wonders why General Ellsworth would need a guard. The general is at Camp Lehigh for an inspection and, surrounded by soldiers, Rogers doesn't think he needs a special guard. Unfortunately, he needed one a couple hours sooner. When Private Rogers walks into Ellsworth's tent to report for duty, he finds the General already dead.
The papers pick up on these two deaths and are buzzing with the news come morning. Rathcone is delighted by the headlines. He has his eyes firmly set on ruling the United States and believes that these two deaths are only the beginning steps of his bid for power. In this private moment, he imagines the many tools he will bring against the people of the USA to make them submissive to his rule. Gas. Tanks. Planes. He's the iron fist kind of ruler.
The next step in his... carefully laid out plan... is the deaths of Captain America and Bucky. He's about to send out his orders when he thinks better of them. Instead of outright killing the costumed heroes, he decides to capture them, monologue for a bit, and then have his plans blow up in his face. It's win/win. To that end, he sends orders to have the patriotic duo brought to him... alive and unspoiled. Herr Kamelon sends out Strangler once more. Strangler decides that if they capture Bucky, Cap is sure to follow on his own.
This is where having your code name be your commonly-known nickname probably works against Bucky Barnes. He also shouldn't be wearing his super-hero suit while hanging out in his tent. Whatever the reason, Strangler doesn't even work up a sweat in locating the kid sidekick and convincing him to come alone to Rathcone's secret base. Bucky writes a note to ensure Cap follows. There's... there's a lot of bungling going on in this scene.
Strangler takes off and allows Bucky to make his way to the secret base under his own time table. That means Bucky waits until nightfall before going off to investigate. Bucky is allowed free reign of the facilities and eventually makes his way into Rathcone's private chambers. Once there, Rathcone reveals himself (not that way, pervs) before Bucky is able to ruin his chess game. Rathcone intruduces himself as the future ruler of the United States and invites the youngster to a pleasant game of chess. Bucky declines, intending to race off for some help. Rathcone isn't about to let the kid leave and trips Bucky up with his cane. Bucky tries to attack but is beaten into unconsciousness.
Rathcone now only has to wait for Cap to eventually show up. Perfect plan!
Steve Rogers returns to his tent to find Bucky's letter. Oh, that crazy kid. He's gonna get himself killed someday...
Steve changes into his Captain America suit and races off to Rathcone's hideout. On his way in, he has to fight with Herr Strangler. There's not one moment of that fight where Strangler even stands a chance.
With that smaller battle easily won, Cap enters Rathcone's private chambers. Rathcone is prepared for the hero and has his gun pulled, ready for the kill. Rathcone leads Cap into his chess room where Bucky is tied up and waiting for a rescue. Steve casually talks to his partner and even has a remark or two about Rathcone's little chess set. Oh, look at the cute Captain America piece! I wonder what movements that kind of piece would have?
Guns don't mean much to a guy like Captain America. As soon as he assesses the situation, he literally turns the tables on his presumed captor. That means knocking over the chess table and hitting Rathcone with it. Cap moves in with a haymaker, laying the villain out flat.
The battle isn't done just yet. You see, there's a microphone in this room that has been relaying Rathcone's "detailed plans" to his associates. That means Kamelon and all those other assassins know that their boss has been beaten. They rush the room.
None of these people are a match for Bucky and Captain America. What they do, however, is buy time for Rathcone to wake up and try his hand at escaping. Steve gives chase and ends up with a chair in the face. That hardly even phases the super soldier. He's immediately back on his feet and slugging.
Once the bad guys are down for the count, Cap and Bucky investigate the secret base further and find it riddled with secret plans and intelligence. There is a lot of military information available here. This could have been a real threat if only Rathcone had just KILLED Cap and Bucky instead of playing with them. Ah well, some people just don't know how to play chess.
Captain America reports the location in to the authorities and then makes tracks with his kid partner. Back at Camp Lehigh, a Major Fields calls him in to a private meeting. Fields reads the frontpage article, which is all about Cap's latest adventure, to the Private. It's not because the Major knows who he IS. It's that the Major wants to show Private Rogers what a real soldier is like.
Writer: Joe Simon
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this story:
• Private Rogers drives Major Croy back to the Major's home and ties to hang around to protect the Major!
• Croy sends Rogers home and is soon killed by the Red Skull!
• Captain America goes into action without Bucky!
• The Red Skull gives the order to his men: go rob some banks!
• Bucky falls off a roof and is captured by the Red Skull's men!
• Captain America comes to the rescue but loses the Red Skull in the attempt!
• George Maxon comes to Camp Lehigh to watch the test flight of one of his planes only to have it explode in the sky!
• General Manor is killed by the Red Skull!
• Captain America attacks but is defeated by the Skull, leaving Bucky to rescue him!
• The Red Skull is revealed to by George Maxon right before being killed by his own hypodermic needle!
Yeah, if you haven't noticed already, a lot of high military officials get killed off in this comic. We also get our first appearance of the Red Skull! It's not the Red Skull we all know and loathe, however. This is the "first" Red Skull. He had one appearance before dying.
We start off with our first high ranking military victim. This time, it's Major Croy. Private Rogers is Croy's driver for the evening (with Bucky riding shotgun just because the two are nearly inseparable). Major Croy has already gotten a death threat from a certain Red Skull but believes the whole thing to be a hoax. When Steve tries to stick around and protect the Major, the Major laughs off the threat on his life and sends the Private home. Steve leaves but can't shake the feeling that the Major is in deadly danger.
Major Croy sits down to read a book. He must have left a window open because the Red Skull enters the room and quietly sneaks up on his victim. Croy doesn't stand a chance. With his hands around the Major's neck, the Red Skull forces Major Croy to look in his eyes so that he can will the military man to death. This seems to work but the actual mechanism of death will be described later.
Later on, the body of Major Croy is found, police are called in, and Steve Rogers shows up to tell them his story. No-one can figure out what killed the good major. All they know is that the look in Croy's eyes is chilling. Someone should shut those eyes.
Outside the window, the Red Skull is still hanging around. When he sees that the police haven't determined a cause of death, he's satisfied and takes off.
Steve (and Bucky) excuse themselves and get dressed for action. You'll notice that in most cases these heroes just race right in on the villain of the piece. There's no explanation for how they found the bad guy or anything. They just show up and start taking names. That's probably their strategy right here. The two get their super suits on and prepare to run into the bad guy. At the last second, Cap decides that Bucky shouldn't be on this particular case. Maybe it's because of all the death but that's nothing Buck hasn't faced in their first few adventures. Still, once in a while, maybe Cap just wants to fight on his own.
It's no good. If Cap won't bring Bucky along, the kid sidekick will just look for the Red Skull on his own.
The Red Skull has a meeting with some of his underlings. He lays out his very simple plan. The Red Skull will keep killing military officials and his gang will rob banks and keep the money flowing in.
It seems that Bucky is having better luck finding the bad guys than Cap. The kid commando races along the rooftops until he comes across the Red Skull's lookout. Unfortunately, luck is not on his side this evening. Bucky leans over too far on the roof and breaks right through the shoddily assembled brick barrier. He falls into the street but lands without serious injury. That lookout has the jump on Mr. Barnes and takes the advantage. The next thing we know, Bucky is being led into the Red Skull's hideout.
Only the Red Skull knows that this kid is Bucky, the kid sidekick of Captain America. When his men learn this fact, they think letting the kid go is preferable to going up against the Sentinel of Liberty. The Red Skull isn't afraid. He decides that they're going to hold the boy hostage and then kill him.
Before any of that can take place, Captain America catches up to his partner. Bucky catches his second wind and helps his friend fight this terrorist cell. In the commotion, the Red Skull makes his getaway.
The next day, we find Steve Rogers smoking away on his pipe. Joe Quesada would NOT approve. Soon enough, he's called into duty. The men are called to attention as the General introduces them to Mr. George Maxon. Maxon is the head of Maxon Aircraft Corporation and is here for the flight test of his brand new bomber. They watch as the giant plane takes flight, bursts into flames, and crashes to the ground.
Medical teams race to the scene. Maxon laments the loss of his beautiful plane. Private Rogers chews him out for not caring for the lives of the men who probably died aboard the bomber. This isn't the sort of thing that Privates usually do. General Manor tells him to get back at attention. It will be later when Steve investigates this as Captain America.
The General shows Mr. Maxon home personally, assuring the businessman that everything will be done to get to the bottom of this little bit of sabotage. Mr. Maxon expresses just how distressed the day's events have made him feel. He wishes "America's greatest military genius" a good night.
General Manor shows up at home and apologizes to his wife for having such a late day. It's just that they're preparing for this eventual war thing and there's a lot to do. His wife doesn't mind at all. She just hands her husband a package that was delivered earlier and exits, stage left. Manor heads to his study to open this box. Inside is a red skull and a message announcing his death.
General Manor takes this just as seriously as Major Croy. He tosses the note into the fire and has a good laugh at the joke. That red skull is kind of creepy, though...
Immediately, the real Red Skull shows up. Manor pulls his gun but the Red Skull lunges before the pistol can be trained on him. The gun fires uselessly into the distance. Again, he has his hands at the neck of a military leader. Again, he forces the officer to look him in the eye. Again, we end up with a dead man.
This time, the Red Skull doesn't get to run off into the night undetected. The General is married and the sound of Manor's gun going off is enough to attract the attention of his wife. She enters the room with her gun drawn and this time the Red Skull isn't able to avoid it. When she sees her husband fallen, she drops her weapon and races to his side. When she realizes that General Manor is dead, she rises to attack the Red Skull but her advantage is gone. The Red Skull easily bests her. He declares that he's not going to kill her because she's not important enough.
Captain America flies into the room. Now HERE'S someone important enough to kill.
This is the first battle that gives Captain America any trouble and that's interesting since Cap entered the fight with surprise on his side. Once the Red Skull recovers from Cap's initial barrage he smashes a chair over Cap's head. While this wasn't enough to stop Steve earlier, this time it knocks the patriot out. A KO isn't what the Red Skull was looking for. He crosses the Captain off his list and then tries to revive the super soldier so that Steve can look him in the eyes for the kill.
Cap didn't enter this fight alone. Bucky just held back. When he sees his partner in trouble, Bucky charges in to the rescue. Cap is quick to recover and now the battle is two against one. Captain America delivers an uppercut to the Red Skull's face and shatters the fright mask. Underneath, unsurprisingly, is Mr. Maxon. Not only that, Maxon's secret killing power is out. When he fell to the ground, a hypodermic needle fell out of his costume. It seems that Maxon kills people with a drug coctail and watches the life fade from their eyes.
Maxon isn't done fighting yet. He tries to overpower Captain America. His attack is so sudden that it catches Steve Rogers off-guard. The needle goes flying. Maxon desperately reaches for it but now finds himself fighting Bucky. During the struggle, George Maxon accidentally falls on his own needle.
Bucky is a bit horrified by this unwitting death. He asks Steve why his partner didn't intervene but Cap doesn't have a clear answer. Instead, they call in the authorities and make theirselves scarce.
The FBI show up soon. The biggest question to be answered is why an industrialist like George Maxon would become a traitor. The answer is still on Maxon's person: a note from the Führer himself promising Maxon a ministry position when Germany conquered the United States.
With all these adventures now thoroughly under their belts, Private Steve Rogers and regiment mascot, Bucky Barnes, relax back at Camp Lehigh. With these two on the job, maybe a few less Generals will be dead in the future.
Captain America #1
Writers: Rob Liefeld, Jeph Loeb, and Chuck Dixon
Penciler: Rob Liefeld
In this story:
• Steve Rogers dreams of World War II and a life he doesn't know is real. When he wakes up, it is to an ideal wife, kids, and suburban home. This is all a lie but don't tell him that yet.
• While at his factory job, Steve tells his coworkers about his dreams. They get his friend, Nathan, nervous.
• Rikki Barnes tries to convince his brother not to join a group of racists. Unsuccessful!
• Master Man heads up a rally of the World Party. They hate foreigners and former foreigners which pretty much means they hate everyone but the Native Americans but I don't believe they've thought that all the way through. Basically, it's a hate group. Good times.
• Agent Hunt is in attendance but he quickly slips away and heads to the lower levels of World Party HQ. This is where he finds nuclear missiles and a mystery enemy who takes him out.
• Steve meets an old black man on the street and is convinced to follow the man home... and then into his house while the old man digs around in the basement. The dude is pushy. The old man hands over the Shield of Captain America.
• And then the house explodes.
• When the smoke and dust clear up, Steve Rogers is standing in the rubble but his mind is clear. Captain America is back in business. He takes out the terrorist members of the World Party who blew up the house with a VENGEANCE.
• Nick Fury learns that the Super-Soldier is active once more.
That's right. The next Captain America #1 issue didn't come out until the publishing date of November 1996. Cap hadn't been idle preceding this milestone issue. While Captain America Comics had lasted for most of the Golden Age, the title had fizzled out by issue #75 (February 1950) but by then the book was given the strange cover title of Captain America's Weird Tales and had moved on to horror, replacing the War Vet with tales of monsters and suspense (Cap's last Golden Age appearance was in October 1949's Captain America's Weird Tales #74). The hero returned with other Golden Age legends in the December 1953 issue of Young Men #24. When that proved successful, Cap and Bucky returned in Captain America #76 (May 1954), restarting their original title. It was short lived, lasting only three issues and ending with Captain America #78 is September 1954.
When Steve Rogers returned for a proper run, it was in March 1964's Avengers #4. This actually retconned any of his post-WWII adventures, claiming that he had been miraculously frozen in the waning days of World War II. Those adventures are STILL cannon (for the most part) but the Captain Americas (yes, plural) running around are one of Steve Roger's replacements. In November 1964, Captain America got a feature in Tales of Suspence #59 (the other half of the book was occupied by Iron Man). These started out as lost tales from World War II so that they wouldn't interfere with Cap's full time gig in the Avengers. They evolved into current stories which meant that according to the rule of the day, Cap had to give up his life in Avengers Mansion. When issue #100 of the title rolled along, it was retitled Captain America and became a full Cap feature (May 1968). Eventually, Roy Thomas brought Cap, Iron Man, and Thor back to the Avengers full time even though they were busy with their solo books (which began a trend that eventually allowed Wolverine to join five teams at the same time while enjoying a healthy number of solo books and mini-series, but I might be getting a little off track).
So Captain America appeared in his own book as well as the Avengers book for most of the time leading up to November 1996. Towards the end, sales were flagging behind Marvel's top selling titles to such a degree that Marvel brass were desperate to kickstart their core super-hero books. The obvious answer was to hand four of their titles over to the super-star Image creators. Jim Lee and his Wildstorm Studio got to play with the Fantastic Four and Iron Man. Rob Liefeld and Extreme Studios got the Avengers and Captain America. Not only did an outside comic company get creative control over Marvel's main super-heroes, due to Marvel's mega-event, Onslaught, the three titles were literally pulled out of the proper Marvel Universe and put into a pocket dimension so that they could be reimagined, rebooted, and redressed.
That means that this Cap comic more than any other Captain America issue, doesn't matter. It takes place outside regular continuity. While this IS Steve Rogers and he DOES eventually return home, this version of his origin is wiped from continuity. Rogers has vague memories of this time period and mostly remembers his chest puffing out to ridiculous proportions.
So it is that our issue starts with Rob Liefeld's Captain America standing heroically in the midst of a warzone during World War II and poorly drawn... everything... happens around him. I'm not going to lie. Rob Liefeld's art is a mess and I could spend the next billion paragraphs griping about each and every panel. I think it would get more annoying than entertaining, though, so I'll just put that out here now and move on to the main comic: Rob Liefeld draws funny. OK, moving on...
While Cap stands on a hill top and devastation reigns around him, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited. We also notice that the traditional "A" that has adorned Captain America's forehead for decades has been replaced with a stylized eagle emblem, signifying his rank as a Captain.
And then Steve Rogers wakes up and we realize that it was all a dream. Just a crazy dream! You see, Steve doesn't have any recollection of his time as Captain America. All he remembers is his sweet, average American life with his beatiful wife, Peggy, and their son, Rick. It's still the middle of the night. Rogers thinks about how this isn't the first time he's had the same dream about being some crazy dude wrapped in the red, white, and blue. He's also iffy on if he should tell his wife, like doing so could be bad.
When he properly wakes up to a sunny morning, Steve doesn't share his nightmare with his family. The scene around the breakfast table might seem a little too perfect. That's because it is. This life has been manufactured for America's greatest hero.
I suppose I should explain what is going on here. In the Heroes Reborn universe, Captain America was never frozen after World War II. He also never aged. I can't remember the actual reason for this but the United States military thought it was a great idea to mindwipe the Sentinel of Liberty and bring him back out to fight every one of the US's wars. I guess Cap gets unstable if the world isn't at war? I don't know. Part of that mindwipe is having a fake family made up of life model decoys (LMD's). This might be because he doesn't have time to form a real relationship with a woman or... no, it's pretty much that.
So now you know all about Steve Rogers' fake life. While we were explaining things, Steve finishes his breakfast and gets into his buddy Nathan's truck so that they can carpool to their factory job. During the ride, we switch over to the local news as they report on the World Party and a rally that the group is having in Philadelphia. That's our first indication that Steve Rogers and his fake family are living in Philly.
Steve and Nathan talk about the World Party and inform us that the political movement is little more than a hate group. It turns out that when the World Party last visited the City of Brotherly Love, they rumbled with the Jewish Defense League over the WP's anti-semetic policies. Steve can't believe that there might be Nazis in his city but Nathan takes it all philosophically.
Before Nathan's van pulls into the factory, it stops right outside long enough for a creepy old man to gaze inside the vehicle with his beady little eyes. Seriously, this dude has white dots for eyes. Both he and Steve seem to recognize each other, though Rogers' recollections are cloudy at best.
Work at the factory might be long and hard but we skip all that and head straight to the cafeteria scene. Nathan mentions that Steve has been "off" all morning. Rogers finally confides that he's been having wierd dreams about running around in a costume designed around the American Flag. Nathan gets a puzzled look on his face and then excuses himself so he can hit the restroom. Instead, Nate scoots right on over to the payphone and makes a call to Nick Fury.
Again, we skip ahead in time. This time, Steve is watching television late at night when the rest of his family is asleep. The current channel is closing up for the night and instead of showing infomercials until the early hours, they drop in a video of a waving flag and play the "God Bless America." Steve nods off for a moment and dreams about being Captain America. Rogers wakes up before the end of the song and starts thinking that maybe he should talk to his wife about these crazy dreams. He's not totally convinced that's a good idea, though.
So he probably won't do it.
The next night, we move to another part of Philly to the apartment complex of Rikki Barnes. Rikki is a dancer by nature but is upset that she just got shot down for a scholarship. Barnes mopes outside her apartment. Her brother, John, has figured out why she didn't get in: affirmative action! The worst devil ever. John and his best bud, Gus, have opted to wear leather jackets with red skulls on the back and are on their way to the World Party rally. The world will stop putting the white man down... or else!
Rikki tries to stop her brother but isn't successful. Gus just shoves her out of the way. Rikki can't do much about it now but she'll end up as the new Bucky by the end of the storyline and then things'll be different. Rob Liefeld took the concept of a female Bucky from Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns book where the Robin of the story is a girl. Batman and Cap influence each other. A LOT.
We've talked about the World Party for a while now so I think it's about time we met the organization. Here's a clue: they're Nazis. I know! Surprising. The face of the World Party is Master Man, one of the Nazi super-soldiers from World War II. The Nazi super-soldier formula was less perfect than the American version so even though Alexander has aged slower than normal, he still looks like an old man compared to Steve Rogers.
Before Alexander heads up to address the public in the World Party's headquarters in an old church, one of his underlings interrupts his reverie to tell the WP leader that they have discovered the "Old Man" running around Philadelphia. They don't know what this dude is doing in Philly but arrangements have been made to kill him and re-acquire an item he stole from them: Cap's Shield. With that business out of the way, Alexander walks into the World Party rally.
Master Man runs around in a super-villain costume during this rally, so that it looks less like a political rally and more like a wrestling event. I guess that'll draw members from multiple sources? "Alexander the Great's" speech is loaded with how terrible all foreigners are and how they've stolen jobs from real Americans. This is HILARIOUS when you remember that Master Man is, himself, a foreigner. The glorifying of the swastika is also wierd. Alexander seems to be trying to make it seem rational instead of completely over the top.
The crowd eats up every word, including John Barnes and his gigantic buddy, Gus. The only one not hanging on Master Man's every word is SHIELD Special Agent Hunt who is here to find out the hidden secrets of the World Party. With everyone busy upstairs, Hunt descends to the lower levels of the former church (World Party Philadelphia's HQ is in an old church) to find...
That's right, the World Party is fully loaded with a nuclear arsenal. This is sort of a big deal so Hunt attempts to get a hold of his boss, Nick Fury, to break this important news. The signal gets interupted when Special Agent Hunt is confronted by an enemy who is supposed to be dead.
That'd be the Red Skull. He doesn't appear on panel but that's who is talking in the gravelly, evil voice. FYI.
All of this is unknown to our main character, Steve Rogers, who doesn't even know who HE is yet. Rogers walks the streets of Philly, lost in though and wondering what his Captain America dreams mean. Remember that creepy old dude from earlier? Here he is again, telling Steve that he's a Captain and giving Rogers a history lesson on the WWII vet's illustrious history. None of this is stuff that Mr. Rogers believes but he still agrees to walk the old, crazy man home.
On the way home, the old dude, who's name is Abraham Wilson, keeps regaling Steve with his own history in World War II and how Rogers was important to the war effort. The innocent Steve Rogers thinks Abe is off his medication but still follows the old man into his home and waits for the man to bring up an ancient treasure chest from a hidden basement. Inside the chest is Captain America's mighty shield.
Abe claims that he recovered the shield after travelling through Europe for a time. We know that he took it from Master Man's people in East Berlin. Since then, Abe has been on the trail of Captain America so that the shield could be returned to it's rightful owner.
Steve recognizes the shield from his dreams but it doesn't open up any further memories.
Outside Abe Wilson's home, the militant branch of the World Party has tracked down the Old Man. The order is given and the place is blown up. The World Party searches the wreckage for a sign of the shield.
It breaks through the the broken bits of building with Steve Rogers on the other end. The World Party is too surprised to do much about this but stare.
That explosion brought back all of Steve's lost memories. He now remembers his life as Captain America and also remembers how to fight and sling a shield around like a champ. In the new few pages, Captain America pounds the snot out of the World Party. The captions fawn over how awesome Cap is. Steve grimaces a lot.
When the fight is over, Rogers unburies Abe Wilson. The old man isn't going to make it and leaves Steve with some words of wisdom and warnings about Rogers' family being in danger. Steve does a bit more grimacing.
We now move far above the earth for action in the SHIELD Helicarrier. Everyone's been talking (or trying to talk) to Nick Fury. Now, it's time for Agent Sharon Carter, who is apparently ten feet tall. Behind her is a fat Dum-Dum Dugan. Whoever issued him a spandex SHIELD uniform should be shot. Anyway, Sharon tells Nick that Captain America is back.
Nick (or a reasonable facsimile-- the real Nick Fury shows up MUCH later) makes plans to meet the Sentinel of Liberty and maybe recruit the man for a special project.
Captain America #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Ron Garney
In this story:
• Akutagawa and Strikeforce Ukiyoe terrorize Japan because of western influence. Captain America shows up to stop them. Akutagawa gets away.
• In searching for Akutagawa, Cap discovers that no one thinks he's the genuine article and that Japan is laced with Americana.
• Akutagawa recruits Lady Deathstrike.
• Steve takes off his mask and walks the city in his civvies. He talks to reporters about the westernization of Japan but he doesn't have clear answers.
• He finds Akutagawa and other terrorists entering a theater playing a movie about Captain America. Big fight time.
• As Captain America fights Lady Deathstrike, Akutagawa works on detonating two cannisters of nerve gas.
• When it comes to actually blowing them up, Akutagawa doesn't have it in him to martyr himself for the "cause."
• Cap tells his story to the reporters outside.
• In Istanbul, Sharon Carter gets the news that her ex-boyfriend is alive again.
• In Wisconsin, the burnediin shadow of the Red Skull gets up and walks out.
• Kang the Conqueror plans.
January 1998! After thirteen issues helmed by Extreme Studios and Wildstorm Studios, Captain America returned to the Marvel Universe in Heroes Reborn: The Return. This is what happened when he got back.
Our story takes place in the country of Japan. You might know the place. What this issue focuses on is the increasing westernization of the culture. Much of this is greeted with open arms by people fascinated with the west. Not everyone, of course, shares this attitude. Some people think this is how you give up your own beliefs and traditions and they want nothing of it. Some of THOSE people decide to take a violent stand against westernization.
One of those guys is Akutagawa of Strikeforce Ukiyoe. He and his followers are holding an American-themed restaurant hostage. He is going through his list of demands and finishes up by trying to take the torch off a copy of the Statue of Liberty and lighting an American Flag. It's a good thing that Captain America is around to stop all of this.
The appearance of Captain America causes Akutagawa to go weak in the knees and he races off. Cap tries to catch the terrorist but is mobbed by restaurant goers who are surprised by his appearance here. Cap has been presumed dead ever since the Onslaught event. He doesn't remember much from his time away and definitely doesn't think much time has passed. This is much like how he showed up in Avengers #4 except a much shorter period of time is missing. Still, it'll take him a while to catch up on what he's missed.
To catch US up on Captain America, we see some quick flashback scenes of Steve recieving the Super-Soldier Serum, donning the Captain America suit, fighting Nazis with Bucky, being frozen in ice, and being retrieved by the Avengers. After that very quick flashback, we're back to modern day Cap action!
Steve tries to get the authorities to help him search for Akutagawa, but they just figure he's part of the promotion for the Captain America documentary that's being shown that evening. The policemen give him a salute and a wink and leave the Captain confused. He picks up a paper to get his bearings. This is Tokyo but things have changed since Steve visited the city last. A LOT more western influence and not all of it is good. Cigarette billboards? Probably not the pretty sight on the Tokyo skyline.
Cap tries to investigate Strikeforce Ukiyoe but no-one takes him seriously. The newspaper vendor just gives his costume a few crits. Steve catches the cover of a magazine and realizes that his big premiere documentary is debuting tonight. As he walks away, the newspaper vendor's television shows the Fantastic Four addressing the world as to their return. Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America are still missing but everyone else has survived the trip home. The vendor thinks that he might have just witnessed the genuine article. Whoops.
Lady Deathstrike never had much interest in protecting Japanese culture. Then, she was invaded by a spirit and shown the true path. Now, she's prepared to fight to keep her country pure of outside influence. Osamu Akutagawa implores her to help in his cause... which is her cause. She is all about this except she KNOWS Akutagawa. He talks big but is a coward by nature. There was a movement by Masao Hashikura where he and his followers committed ritual suicide in protest of western influence. Akutagawa was one of those followers but fled instead of joining the others in death. Most of us would think that a good instinct to possess but for Deathstrike, it is an insult to her cause. She tells Akutagawa that she'll help but only if the leader of Strikeforce Ukiyoe is willing to pay the ultimate price.
If he's not willing, she'll kill him herself.
Meanwhile, Steve Rogers has finally decided that roaming the city as Captain America is counter-productive. He buys a trenchcoat and switches into his secret identity behind a giant boot. Wait. A giant boot!? Looking up, Cap sees a huge statue of Captain America in front of the theater that will be playing his movie.
Rogers has some strong opinions about Cap-mania. This undercurrent to the Cap book continues on until it explodes by issue #5. For now, it's a nuisance and a reason for Strikeforce Ukiyoe to get up in arms. Steve bears with it but isn't too pleased with what he sees.
The reporters are interviewing people on the street and when they see the blond American, well, it's too much to resist. One reporter asks him what he thinks of the western influences on Japan. Steve's answer is complicated. For one, he misses seeing the culture of Japan as it was during World War II. He doesn't want to see it scrubbed to make way for the next big thing. At the same time, it's up to the people of the country to decide what they do with their own culture. There's definitely an interest in the west and it's not like he has any right to say that's wrong. It's something he wants to think about.
But not right now. Steve sees Akutagawa entering the theater and tells the reporte to call the police.
Strikeforce Ukiyoe enters the theaters and locks the exits shut. Their plan is to kill everyone seeing this abominable Captain America film with nerve gas. In the process, they will martyr themselves. Not if Cap has anything to say about that. He attacks the terrorists.
The fight makes it up on the stage but as everyone knows, if theater-goers see a fight on stage, it MUST be planned.
Things heat up when Lady Deathstrike takes over for the other terrorists. The movie watchers figure that this fight must be real and everyone panics heading for the exits. The problem with that is that the exits are still locked up tight. Steve doesn't get a chance to break a way out of the theater, either. Deathstrike is relentless. At one point, Steve tries to get the villainess to slice through the chains locking a door but Deathstrike stops herself before falling for that.
While most of Strikeforce Ukiyoe has been knocked out and many of the nerve gas canisters have been rendered useless. Two remain, and Akutagawa plans to use them. If he can just rig a detonator before Captain America wins the battle with Lady Deathstrike...
As Cap and Deathstrike fight, the movie moves to the part where the Sentinel of Liberty disappeared after the fight with Onslaught... "late last year." The revelation that Steve's been gone for almost a year leaves him wide open for Lady Deathstrike's next round of attacks.
Akutagawa has set up the charges. It's almost ready to go. He's panicking. The terrorist looks up and sees an unlocked exit. Urge to run... building.
It looks like everyone's time is almost up. Deathstrike, for example, eats some shield.
With Deathstrike defeated, Akutagawa reveals himself and swears that he'll kill them all with nerve gas. Deathstrike is amused and doesn't think Captain America will find a way out of this situation. While Akutagawa monologues defiantly, his eyes keep straying to the exit.
Steve doesn't think this guy will be able to commit to a suicide plan. He tells Akutagawa as much but the terrorist keeps saying how dead they all are. Cap calls his bluff, aiming his shield at the open exit. The shield plunges into the door, making sure it's useless. Captain America makes his way to the catwalk holding Akutagawa and the terrorist finds that his resolve isn't actually as firm as he'd like.
So everyone lives. In the aftermath, Lady Deathstrike sneaks off. Steve sticks around and talks to the news crews about his actions inside. News that Captain America is officially back starts spreading around the world.
In Istanbul, Agent 13, Sharon Carter, takes out some unsavory elements and gets the news that her ex has returned to the land of the living from a radio. She takes it... well, Sharon takes the news angrily. Calling in a clean-up crew, Agent 13 requests a ride back to New York.
In the dangerous state of Wisconsin, a burnt shadow representing all that's left of the Red Skull after his last confrontation with Captain America gets off the wall and walks out of the room.
In the future, past, or somewhere in between, Kang the Conqueror notes the reappearance of Captain America and talks about how he'll never be ready for him. I think this turned out to be Korvac but it's been a while since I've read these books.
So Steve Rogers has a full plate to deal with. First, he'll be losing that precious shield of his... but that's a story for another time...
Captain America #1
Writer: John Ney Rieber
Artist: John Cassaday
In this story:
• The events of September 11, 2001 play out.
• Steve Rogers works with rescue teams to save lives at ground zero in New York. When Nick Fury calls him back to duty to find Osama Bin Laden, Rogers says a violent "no" and gets back to saving what lives he can.
• Captain America stops some people from killing an American kid who is guilty of walking at night while Muslim.
• Landmines drop on the town of Centerville on Easter Sunday. The town is devastated.
• Captain America drops on the town and sees the destruction
• Finding his resolve, he tries to save as many lives as he can.
It was June 2002. You knew what this comic was going to be about. On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked for the first time in decades. It was devastating and it redefined what America was and where we were going as a nation. If you were Captain America, it was something that HAD to define your adventures.
And so it did. The comic opens up with a comic retelling of the events of 9-11.
At Ground Zero, Steve Rogers tries to save lives. Most of the time, he's too late. It doesn't stop him from trying but it does weaken his resolve. Cap keeps working even though fatigue is probably setting in by now.
Another rescue worker asks him where he was when the towers fell. Steve tells the man that he was running. He could only watch as this tragedy happened.
They talk about who was responsible for this but Osama Bin Laden hadn't been 100% confirmed at the time. He was just the number one suspect. Steve talks about how important it is that they know WHO to fight before they commit to anything. They've got to know for certain.
Cap keeps looking for people. Nick Fury, the Director of SHIELD eventually comes around to give Steve a mission. It's to Kandahar and it's probably related to who DID this... or it might just be another SHIELD mission. Whatever it is, Steve refuses to go. Right now, he is needed here. He says no as violently as possible, smashing Fury into what remains of a concrete foundation. Nick decides to let this one go.
This is something very personal to Steve Rogers. He's FROM New York and he's CAPTAIN AMERICA. The fact that he couldn't prevent this from happening affects him at his core. He flashes back just one day and remembers how happy and optimistic the world looked. Not so much now.
Eventually, Steve Rogers has to go home. On the way, he sees a young Muslim kid walking the streets alone. That... is a bad idea right now. Someone's going to see this kid and try to get some sort of twisted vengeance. Steve tries to warn the kid, Samir, but he won't listen. His DAD was born here. He's an American. In normal circumstances, that should be all that matters. These are NOT normal circumstances.
It's not long after this that someone takes a knife to Samir because he lost a daughter in the attacks. The knife connects with the shield of Captain America.
Captain America tells the attacker that this is NOT the right behavior. This is just murder against someone who had nothing to do with the attack. Samir understands where the emotions are coming from, though. He tells Cap that there's no reason to "arrest" the attacker. Then, he offers the man who tried to kill him a shoulder to cry on and says he's sorry for the man's loss. Big hearts. Americans coming together. Stuff like that happened, too.
With the conflict resolved, Captain America poses for the camera and lays on the patriotism as thick as he can.
And that's just the lead in. We're not even to the real story. If you thought you were going to watch as Captain America hunted down Osama Bin Laden, you are NOT in luck. This isn't that kind of story. This is the story of how the Sentinel of Liberty deals with a whole different act of terrorism.
Seven months pass. It's Easter Sunday in Centerville which seems to be your average midwest town. A kid is riding his bike through town when he sees bombs parachuting in from the sky. These are mines and they lace the ground.
Inside a country market, the clerk and an elderly customer are talking about fishing when they here an explosion outside. The clerk races out to check on his son (who was probably the kid on the bike). He walks right on a landmine.
This isn't the work of Al-Qaida. This isn't Osama Bin Laden. This is another terrorist altogether. Al-Tariq. Nick Fury describes him as "a monster." Leaping out of a helicopter without a parachute, Captain America says he's a monster too.
Steve lands on the streets of Centerville. The place is a mess. We see the bike that the kid was riding earlier. It's a twisted wreck. Wherever he looks, he can't find anything alive. The survivors have most likely been taken as hostages.
Captain America strengthens his resolve and sets himself to work. THIS theater of war isn't hopeless. There ARE survivors. He'll find them. Captain America runs into the smoke and fire.
Captain America #1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting
In this story:
• In a flashback taking place five years ago, we meet General Lukin, a communist loyalist selling weapons to the highest bidder. Red Skull is buying.
• In the background is the Winter Soldier in suspended animation. Bucky isn't for sale.
• In the present, the Red Skull has assembled a new Cosmic Cube. It just needs recharging. The Skull muses over the death of his all time favorite nemesis.
• That'd be Captain America.
• Sharon Carter has volunteered to be Steve's SHIELD Personal Liason because she thinks Steve is cracking under all the recent strain.
• She relates an earlier adventure where Cap took down some rogue AIM terrorists who tried to blow a radioactive hole in New York City. Captain America takes the terrorists down more violently than necessary.
• Steve tells Sharon that he dreams about all the people he lost in World War II.
• As Sharon leaves Steve's hidden HQ, a disguised Red Skull watches.
• Later on, General Lukin gives the Skull a call, inquiring about the Cube. When the Red Skull refuses to turn over the Cosmic Cube, Lukin has the Winter Soldier assassinate the Nazi.
January 2005! When this particular 1st issue came out, the board had recently been swept clean in the event, Avengers: Disassambled. The Avengers had been disbanded after one of their own, the Scarlet Witch, went nuts and killed a couple of their members (Ant-Man II, Vision, and Hawkeye). Thor died in the "Final Ragnarok" with the rest of the Asgardians. In Cap's tie-in to that event, he captured the Red Skull and hooked up with his ex-girlfriend, Diamondback. That seems like a bright spot for this time because it was. Afterward, Captain America remembered what had happened to the Avengers and sank back into what passes for depression for the World War II hero.
But before we get there, let's head back five years to Russia, near the Kazakhstan Border. This is the base of the rebel Communist General Lukin. Get used to the General, he'll be sticking around for quite a while. As a rebel general, he's not on friendly terms with the current leaders of Russia. That is why his base has just been unsuccessfully infiltrated by the Red Guardian. This isn't someone you'll recognize beyond the suit. It looks like this is the sixth Red Guardian and he won't be sticking around long enough for us to even get his name. Lukin kills the patriot himself and then orders his men to give the man an honorable burial.
It looks like the General is getting ready to leave Russia which means he's having the military equivalent of a yard sale, selling off some of the experimental weaponry of his successor. Lukin hasn't had time to categorize everything he inherited yet but there are some bits that he's already got plans for. So... who's today's buyer?
Everyone's favorite Red Skull!
What he's here to purchase is irrelevent. The point is this meeting took place between these two powerful villains. Oh, Red Skull also noticed a man in suspended animation and recognizes him immediately. While who it is isn't revealed for many issues, I'll give it away. It's the Winter Soldier, better known to you and me as James Buchanan Barnes, the first partner of Captain America. Bucky. Yep. As of this comic, Bucky Barnes survived his fateful off-panel demise and was placed into the loving hands of the Soviets. Suffering amnesia, James Barnes was turned into a Cold War assassin and sabateur for the Soviet Union, only taken out of cryo long enough to complete missions. That kept him young.
But all this isn't TOO important to this tale. It just blows up later on and you probably want to note it here. Red Skull attempts to buy the Winter Soldier but Lukin already has plans for him. The only thing Lukin MIGHT sell him for is the Cosmic Cube. That's a deal breaker for the Nazi. While the Skull doens't currently HAVE the Cube, his people are searching for it and when he DOES get it, there won't be any giving it up.
Welcome to the present. The Red Skull has a Cosmic Cube, cobbled together from previous, broken versions of the device. This Cube is barely charged but the Skull has plans in place to load it up with energy. This, then, is the moment right before his ultimate victory. Unlike previous moments, the Red Skull has decided NOT to bring in Captain America just to have the good Captain defeat him and save the world. No, things are going to be different this time.
Not that the Nazi isn't keeping an eye on his mortal enemy. Since he escaped from prison, the Skull has had his people constantly watching as the Star-Spangled Hero went about fighting the good fight as tragedy swirled around Steve Rogers. As I've mentioned, this all happens in the shadow of Avengers: Disassembled. Steve has an edge to him that Red Skull correctly identifies as the result of him losing friends.
This is a first issue which means it's almost necessary to run through some previous Cap adventures in wordless panels. We see a Depression Era scene, Cap and Bucky fighting during WWII, Cap watching Hawkeye shoot an arrow, and Steve in front of a gravestone. This is what is passing through the mind of Steve Rogers when his ex-girlfriend asks him how he's holding up. The answer, then, is "not well." This is something Sharon Carter knows.
Agent 13 has volunteered to be Steve's Personal Liason with SHIELD not because she wants to get involved with her ex but because he needs someone to talk to who won't fawn all over him. That would be Sharon, who sometimes can't even stand to be in the same room as the Captain.
She has a thankless job because Rogers is a manly man who isn't all that great at discussing his feelings. He's rather punch them out. For example...
Sharon has some issues with a recent Captain America adventure. Some rogue AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) Agents had taken an elevated train and loaded it up with bombs and toxic waste. The plan was to leave a radioactive wasteland where Coney Island usually is. Before you ask if anyone would notice, let's just move on to watch as Captain America kicks the snot out of the terrorists. Like I said, Cap has an edge to him that wasn't there previously. Bad guys die instead of just getting knocked unconscious. This Captain America takes his job seriously and right now, that's preventing a dirty bomb from going off in New York City. The last terrorist left standing is forced to disarm the bomb.
So, Steve saved lives but terrorists got killed or critically injured. Worse, when some of the AIM Agents dropped from the train, one landed on a minivan and injured some innocent people. Sharon thinks Steve is getting reckless.
Rogers won't apologize for saving lives but that's not the point. Sharon thinks that all this stems from the latest escape of the Red Skull. Ever since then, Cap has been unrestrained in his actions. In short, he's been very un-Cap-like.
Rogers tells Sharon that he's having some vivid dreams. No, not like his terrible Heroes Reborn dreams. These dreams DO take place during World War II but they aren't over-the-top patriotic dreams where Captain America poses in the middle of a war as someone sings the Star-Spangled Banner. No, in these dreams, Captain America sees all the people who he couldn't save during the War.
Steve has been living in the modern era for ten years. Possibly fifteen if you want to go by current thought. I don't. The current Marvel era is ten years old. That's it. That's all it should ever be. ANYWAY, Steve is used to living in modern times but he still dreams of WWII. After that confession, the mood is relaxed and the two talk about more comfortable subjects.
Well, where has the time gone? Steve escorts Sharon to her SUV. Agent 13 tells him she'll be back for a visit in a couple weeks. She also wonders what Rogers thinks of his current home.
It's pretty awesome, actually. Cap's headquarters takes up a whole brownstone apartment building . Rogers isn't AGAINST neighbors but his job means that they usually end up in one crossfire or another. No, better to have the entire building to himself. The entrance is hidden behind a holographic wall. Later on, this building will be one of the many homes of the New Avengers team before it's destroyed by Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers.
The two talk shop on the city street, where they really SHOULDN'T. Rogers asks if they've figured out who orchestrated the dirty bomb that nearly took out Coney Island but SHIELD hasn't gotten any names yet. When the talk shifts to the Red Skull, Agent 13 again has no solid information.
That's because the Skull is standing right behind them wearing a mask to hide his identity. He listens as Steve swears to find the Red Skull and laughs on the inside. The Nazi even gets to watch as Steve Rogers enters his home through the secret holowall. Steve isn't the master of secrets.
The Red Skull muses that killing Captain America could be so simple now and we don't disagree. All in good time, though. First, he needs to power up the Cosmic Cube and then... hell on earth. The Red Skull is back in his penthouse suite preparing for his moment of triumph.
Before the clock counts down the final minutes, the Skull gets a call from General Lukin. It seems the General has found out that the Red Skull has reassembled a Cosmic Cube and gives the Nazi one last chance to turn the device over to him. The Skull palms the Cube as he declines Lukin's request. Lukin tells the Red Skull that he regrets that things have to go down this way but the old Nazi doesn't realize what that means just yet.
Maybe the bullet through his chest will give him an idea. The Red Skull drops to the ground, dead. The assassin, the Winter Soldier, ziplines over to the penthouse from his sniper's perch. Picking up the Skull's cellphone, the Soldier tells Lukin that the assassination went off perfectly. The Red Skull is dead and the Cosmic Cube is now theirs.
As we all know, the Red Skull doesn't die so easily. Using the dregs of power in the Cosmic Cube, the Skull transferred his consciousness to General Lukin. It would take a while for that consciousness to make its presence known, but make no mistake, the Red Skull has a will to win rivaling that of Captain America himself.
And now it's time to turn the column over to the ever talented bkthomson. He has given us this write-up of the latest Captain America #1 after I couldn't get my grubby mitts on it. Take it away, bk!
Captain America #1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Steve McNiven
In this issue:
• Steve takes a stroll down memory lane—my life in frames.
• A quiet funeral in Paris for a fallen hero with a few good friends.
• What is a funeral without an assassination attempt?
• Steve shows off his parkour skills through the streets of Paris.
• Steve takes another stroll down memory lane-- jumping Jupiter, who is Jimmy Jupiter?
• Back to the States for a visit to a Government Nursing Facility.
• Once again back down memory lane—love in Paris during wartime.
• What is a hospital visit without another assassination attempt—or a disguised kidnapping?
• Big bad reveal thy self.
It's a cloudy day in Paris as Steve Rogers, AKA the original Captain America, and Sharon Carter, AKA Agent 13, finish getting dressed. What for, you may be asking? Is it an evening out on the town or some super secret fancy covert operation that could lead to a forbidden dance of the tango? Stay tuned true-Super-Readers; the answer will be coming shortly. You know the difference between Steve and me? Steve makes the formal suit look GOOD.
While Steve puts the final touches on his tie, his mind wanders back to the past. Our man out of time recalls the cold winters of Brooklyn, fighting the Third Reich during World War II, with his partner James 'Bucky' Barnes, an encounter with the Red Skull and Master Man, a fight alongside the Avengers against Ultron; and let's not forget, a fight with some Skrulls. Really the man needs something more cheery to remember, something positive; but nope let's just reflect that you, Steve, should be an old man by now, and when "someone dies. Some old friend or an old love those long-ago-days feel so close." Prozac, Steve, try Prozac.
Let's return our attention back to the present, where Steve and Sharon have met up with Nick Fury, Agent of . . . (well at least he's out of the bunkers and feels comfortable to be seen in public.) along with Dum-Dum Dugan in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Surrounding a coffin that is about to be placed into the ground, they listen with other military veterans to the priest give his sermon. The burial monument to the gravesite reads"Margaret Carter June 1920 to July 2011 War Hero." Peggy Carter, a partner of Steve during World War II and Sharon's aunt.
As the funeral continues Steve and Sharon spend a moment to reflect on what Peggy meant to the both of them in life and death. To Steve, admittedly expressing selfish anger that Peggy is dead. Could Steve once again be reflecting that if he had aged naturally, he should be an old dead man? To Sharon, it was the last family member she had and she expresses how it was 'Aunt Peggy' who inspired her to be the woman she is today. Then, they have an awkward moment as Steve mentions to Sharon how he once thought SHE was Peggy, which Sharon expresses gratitude for him getting past. One could understand if during intimate moments Sharon was wondering if Steve was thinking of her or Aunt Peggy. They move on, saving themselves even more awkward questions of who was better in bed.
The funeral comes to a close. As it turns out funerals in Paris are rather short and talking through them is not considered an etiquette faux pas if you were related or had relations with the deceased. (Though to be clear that is relations before the deceased was . . . deceased.) Fury and Dugan stroll up to Sharon and Steve, expressing great pride in the classy send-off for the old broad. Sharon, disgusted, chides Fury on his sexist comment. Obviously, she has standards; talking through the funeral of your Aunt whom you admired and respected all your life—OK. A grizzly old World War II veteran/super-spy/and possible LMD calling a woman a broad—a faux pas. Sheepishly apologizing, Fury claims as an excuse 'Old friends, old habits' but on the inside 'damn "feminism" movement.' (Not really, but this is Nick Fury: grizzly old World War II veteran/super-spy/and possible LMD. He could have. He could have.)
Leaving the cemetery, Nick comments on Steve's ability to get the French Government to allow an American to be buried in Paris. It was not as much work as one might expect as Peggy worked for the French Resistance during the war and her contribution to that was never forgotten. Now it is Dugan's time to reflect on Peggy, remembering that even when Paris was 'overrun with Nazis, she still said it was the prettiest city in the world.' A tender moment is met between a man, who looks remarkably like J. Wellington Wimpy of Popeye fame, and Sharon, as they walk arm-in-arm down the rows of graves. Steve, looking at his friends with pride, notices a laser sight targeted on Dum-Dum's chest. In classic Jack Bauer-style Steve yells 'Down!' and with great speed knocks Dugan to the ground before the assassin's bullet can reach him.
Throwing off his dress jacket, Steve runs in the direction of the assassin's shot. In what looks very reminiscent of the classic 'Charlie's Angels' pose Fury, Dugan, and Sharon are ready to watch Steve run, and run Steve does. He sees the assassin clear the cemetery wall with nothing more than one hand for support.
Steve is not one to be outdone and performs a perfect horizontal leap over the cemetery wall without any hands for support only to land in a busy city street in the middle of a quite horrific traffic jam from both directions. While running between, over — and surely off-panel under— cars, Steve realizes that the man he is following knows his ground and has his escape route planned. Sure enough, here comes the getaway as a nimble rocket of a two-seat motorcycle zips around a car to get even with the fleeing assassin. Not on Steve's watch! No-one takes a shot at his friends and gets away. But wait, upon closer look at the assassin, Steve pauses a moment. This man in black and red leather body armor with white hair and wearing X-Treme X-men stylized red lens sunglasses looks familiar but that is impossible, Steve thinks. The pause was enough for the assassin to fire a grenade from his high powered rifle or pistol (depending on which panel you're looking at) at Steve while getting on the motorcycle. Let's once again point out that Steve is in the middle of a traffic jam so when the grenade last passed him and blew up an oncoming car, its wreckage projected at Rogers. Diving away, he evades the flaming wreckage by mere feet, death averted, though Steve looks like he'll need a new shirt.
Running down the street ready to ask questions, comes Sharon, Fury and Dugan but before they can take in the scene Steve indicates they need to get back to the States since he just saw someone he has not seen since 1944. Confused as a grizzly old World War II veteran/super-spy/and possible LMD should not be, Fury questions Steve, only to receive the response that Jimmy Jankovicz may have woken up.
Flashback: Paris – 1944.
In what must be a low rent apartment building or Fury Base 4 for all you Secret Warriors fans out there. Nick Fury stands before Steve (as Captain America), Dum-Dum Dugan, Peggy Carter (looking rather French wearing a beret), and the mysterious Man in Black and Red. Their mission, Fury explains, is to find Baron Zemo who is holed up at a secret base of a group call Hydra. Fury continues that Hydra is new and little is known about them but they have advanced weaponry of the likes no one has seen and Captain America points out, weaponry that the Nazi cannot have. So the mission: Captain America and Peggy strike at Zemo's hideout, while Dum-Dum and Codename: Bravo, AKA the Main in Black and Red, (which I prefer to call him than Codename: Bravo), will take out the Hydra base.
Tangent: Why does he need to be explicitly named Codename and not just Bravo? Is there some military concern that it would create confusion in mission orders when its destination point is called Bravo and Bravo is on the mission? Soldier On Radio: "We have not reached Bravo, sir." Bravo: "What do you mean? I'm right next to you." Why not just call it Land Base: Bravo? I'm just saying.
Problem with the mission is that Fury does not know where the Hydra base is and needs Captain America and Peggy to complete their mission before Dum Dum and Codename: Bravo can begin. Now Fury has a secret weapon, and introduces a blond haired, blue eyed young boy named Jimmy Jankovicz also known as Jimmy Jupiter to the team. 'Jimmy's gonna be our ticket right into the belly of the beast.'
Present: Virginia-- 2011.
At a top-secret Government nursing facility, where confused and grizzly old World War II veterans/super-spies/and possible LMDs go spend their twilight years, but without the sparkles, Fury is chastising a doctor for not following orders when 'that man woke up from decades in a coma' and did not report it, where as the doctor I'm sure is wondering how may HIPPA laws would have been broken if he had. Fury continues to point out that any changes to the man's heath are to be reported, to which the doctor responds that it would have been to S.H.I.E.L.D. 'an agency that doesn't exist anymore'. Score one for Quincy MD; the doctor is getting some lime green jello in the cafeteria tonight!
Disgusted to see that medical bureaucracy exists on all levels of the government even for those that watch over confused and grizzly old World War II veterans/super-spies/and possible LMDs, Fury walks over to Steve and Sharon who are sitting with an older gentleman in a wheel chair. Steve wonders to Fury if someone has come back. Fury indicates that Dugan is looking out to see if Bravo (Codename, man from assassination attempt and 1944, see how it is all coming together?) pops up and wonders why he could not have made a comment. Steve responds while looking at Sharon 'because he hates me?' That's not true, that's impossible. Search your feelings you know it to be true that some people just do not like Captain America-- for example, Nazis and lamb-chop, I think that puppet was out to get Cap and may have teamed up with the Red Skull once or twice to do in the Sentinel of Liberty.
Flashback: Paris – 1944.
Peggy Carter and Codename: Bravo share what seems to be a passionate kiss on the roof top to a low rent apartment building or Fury Base 4. (Ok maybe having "Codename" in your name helps to get the girls). Then Peggy pushes Codename: Bravo way telling him to stop. (Thinking about it again, maybe it's not useful in getting the girls having "Codename" in your name.) Peggy goes into a short, typical "I'm breaking up with you" speech of "its not you it's me, we having nothing in common, the baby is not yours, I felt nothing when you were inside me." Unaffected by this news, Codename: Bravo throws one last barb at Peggy, that he's 'not enough of a super-soldier' for her. As Peggy takes the stairs and leaves the roof, Codename: Brave walks over and stands at the edge of the building, contemplating what, one is not sure but hopefully new ideas for a codename. Shortly, Peggy exits the building on the ground floor and meets a waiting Captain America. The two embrace and kiss all the while Codename: Bravo watches and looks mighty ticked-off.
Present: Virginia-- 2011.
Walking back to their car from the nursing home Sharon, Steve and Fury continue to discus Codename: Bravo trying to figure out what people know about him-- An American who did spy work for the British who gave him an experimental treatment. (Is there a country that did not, or does not, have a Super-Soldier program? Markovia, you do not count since you're not even in the Marvel Universe. Damn, Didio will try any stunt to get new character ideas.)
Boom! An explosion on Steve's back throws him to the ground while Sharon and Fury dive for cover. From no-where emerges four Hydra agents, dressed in a uniform not like the standard Green and Yellow Terrorist garb, shooting at our heroes. Behind cover, Fury and Sharon see the smoldering body of Steve Rogers on the ground. Is he dead? Could this be the end of Steve Rogers? Of course not. This is issue one of an ongoing series, meaning there is going to be at least be an issue two, though as Brother/Doctor Voodoo can attest, you can never guarantee an issue six. Plus, I have six more pages to cover so this is most definitely not the end of our story.
Wait! What is happening? Steve! Steve Rogers is alive. Praise the Alonso, he is alive! Pushing himself off the ground and a high kick to a Hydra Agent face, Steve tears off his tattered clothing to reveal the chainmail uniform of Captain America. (Yeah, I'm not even going to bother to explain how his civilian clothing can be worn OVER the uniform, again, chainmail, and all the while wearing his shield strapped to his back.) Fury is knocked to the ground as his cover is destroyed by a Hydra blast. The battle rages on as Captain America finishes up the remaining Hydra agents with little effort and only a slight amount of property damage. Before everyone can catch their breath, Sharon is nearly run over by a car making a hasty exist from the nursing facility. Much to their surprise, there was another Hydra agent still conscious and this one had kidnapped the older gentleman that Steve and Sharon were sitting with from the facility. Curses are thrown; assumptions are made on the loyalties of Codename: Bravo-- if he is working for Hydra-- and orders are barked into cell phones. There is one question, one question on Sharon's mind 'Now I really want to know what went wrong on that mission...'
Present: Somewhere -- 2011.
Leaning on a railing overlooking a tropical vista of mountains and lush trees, Codename: Bravo receives the news on the kidnapping in Virginia. Satisfied with the results he ends his call and then thinks a moment. He is unclear if he has made an etiquette faux pas by interrupting a meeting with his host since he is a 'Man out of Time' (queue ominous music.). The host answers 'yes,' handing over a filled glass of brandy and is revealed to be Baron Zemo. He'll let the error pass as he is quite intrigued with Codename: Bravo's offer but then again, who would not want to help 'Destroy Captain America' (Well, everyone except Nazis and puppet name lamb chop.)
Thank you very much bk! Now, let's move on to just a few career highlights for the Star-Spangled hero.
The Avengers #4
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this star-studded issue, Namor escapes the Avengers and heads off to find his lost people. Instead, he finds Eskimos worshiping a figure frozen in ice, he throws out their false god and taunts them until he feels really bad about it. The Avengers, returning from Gibraltar, find that frozen idol but he's already thawed out pretty well. Pulling him inside their craft, the realize that it's the legendary Captain America. Steve wakes up, fights everyone, and then explains how he got frozen in a block of ice. The Avengers land in New York and are turned to stone during a press conference. Cap emerges from the sub finding his new friends gone and some wierd stone statues on the pier. He wanders the city until a police officer directs him to a hotel where he meets up with Rick Jones. The two figure out what happened to the Avengers and go out looking for the man responsible. Finding him, the duo take out the man and his gang before learning that the man isn't a man at all. He's an alien who was coerced into turning the Avengers into statues by the Sub-Mariner. Cap gets him to unstone the Avengers and they work on freeing the alien's craft from it's watery prison. Namor finds some of his missing soldiers and attacks the Avengers. After a fun little battle, the alien's craft takes off and frightens the Atlanteans into full retreat. The Avengers then ask Cap if he would like to join them. He might have said yes.
In the last issue, Namor and the Hulk fought the Avengers and got beaten. Namor raced off into the ocean in anger at the supposed betrayal of the Hulk. After sulking for a bit and trying to find his lost people, Namor swims up north. What he finds will have consequences for the future of the Marvel Universe. On an ice floe, Eskimos are worshiping a figure frozen in ice.
Since Namor does have his moments of being a complete jerk, he decides to bully these people a bit, throwing their Ice God far into the ocean. After frightening everyone off, he realizes that princes don't usually go around terrorizing primitives and sulks a bit more.
We leave Namor right now and focus on that chunk of frozen ice containing the frozen man. It floats away from the northern ice flows, hitting warmer waters where it starts melting. By a strange coincidence, the Avengers are out in their sub on their return trip from battling Hulk and Namor. When they see the frozen figure drifting in the ocean currents, they open a hatch and have Giant-Man bring him inside.
Under the torn remains of clothing, they are able to make out the red, white, and blue costume of Captain America.
Cap does a quick thawing as the Avengers look at his stuff. Steve Rogers doesn't wake up happy. Before the Avengers can calm him down, he's fighting mad, holding his own against all three Avengers men. Once he realizes his anger is misplaced, he grows downright melancholy.
The Avengers aren't completely convinced this is the REAL Captain America and they test his fighting abilities further to find out the truth. After Cap proves he's pretty much an awesome force to be reckoned with, it's time for him to share the story of how he was frozen in a block of ice.
This is the story most of us know pretty well. Steve and Bucky raced on a motorcycle to stop a drone plane loaded with explosives. They were able to grab onto the thing at the last moment and ride it into the sky. Unfortunately, the thing was about to explode. Steve was able to drop before it goes up but his partner wasn't so lucky. Cap dropped into the ocean and sunk like a rock, filled with sadness at the loss of his partner.
Steve believes that from there he was quick-frozen and saved from death by the super-soldier serum running through his veins. Since, to him, Bucky just died, he's not taking the news well. When the Avengers land in New York, they decide to let Cap stay aboard the ship while they deal with the press waiting outside.
The press is probably here to find out about their battle with Hulk and Namor. It WAS quite a fight but didn't end decisively. They hope to impress people with the return of Captain America but they're turned into stone statues before they can spill the good news. The press thinks this is some sort of trick and disperse to find some real news.
Cap eventually gets bored of waiting aboard the sub and exits the craft. He sees the Avenger statues but doesn't think anything more than the reporters did. He walks the streets of New York and people react to him in a number of different ways. Cap continues walking until he finds the United Nations. He's not certain what the building is for but it has a pretty array of flags. Eventually, he attracts the attention of a police officer who recognizes him from when he was a kid. The police officer leads him to the nearest hotel where Steve faces the evils of television head on.
Worn out from all the time he spent trapped in ice, Rogers takes a little nap. He wakes up to see Bucky coming into his room. Steve is overjoyed until he learns that it's only Rick Jones, the Avengers number 1 sidekick. Apparently, Rick is the spitting image of Bucky Barnes. Rick isn't here just for a house call. He tracked Cap here from the pier and he wants to know what happened to the Avengers. Rick uses the threat of Hulk but that's unnecessary. Steve would love to help the kid track down Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Steve apologizes for freaking out on Jones and calling him Bucky but the resemblance is remarkable. You can't get first impressions back, however. Rick thinks Steve is off his rocker. Steve decides to prove Rick wrong by taking control of the situation because no madman has ever been a commanding presence before. Still, Cap has a good idea. There were photos taken at the pier and, even though Cap shouldn't know that, they head off to give them a look over. Blowing up a specific photo, they see a man in the crowd who is holding one wicked looking sci-fi gun.
Rick has his Teen Brigade search the city and they eventually find the right due. There are a LOT of guys running around New York City in sunglasses and black hair. This could have taken some time. Cap smashes in to deal with the man who stoned the Avengers but, instead, finds himself facing the man's gang of ne'er-do-wells. Cap destroys their guns with his mighty shield and then gets into close combat to beat them down. When he faces their leader, Captain America dodges the stone ray gun until he gets close enough to unmask the criminal.
It turns out this guy is an asparagus alien. We'll call him 'Sparey', because why not? As his gang clears out, Sparey recounts his tragic tale. The alien's ship crashlanded on earth thousands of years ago. The ship sunk deep into the ocean where it lay out of reach. In his time, he got mistaken for a gorgon because he had to use his stone ray on everyone who tried to kill him. Namor told Sparey that he would free the alien's craft if only Sparey would stonify the Avengers. It's a deeply tragic tale.
Cap tells Sparey that the Avengers could help him out just as easily as Namor and he wouldn't have to turn people into statues for the help. The alien decides to take a chance and unfreezes the Avengers, hoping for the best.
Below the ocean, Namor sulks some more. He's learned that the Avengers aren't stone and it's all Captain America's fault. He learns the lesson that you can't trust nobody for nothin'. The Sub-Mariner swims out to fight the Avengers. On his way to certain battle, Namor finds some of his own warriors swimming around. He calls out to them and finds more people that he can trust for something.
The Avengers are the best good guys ever. They no sooner get unstoned than they help Sparey free his spacecraft from the ocean bottom. After setting up an undersea camera, Thor uses his hammer to raise the ancient spaceship from the depths. Once it's free of the ocean floor, the ship floats around easily. Sparey sets to work repairing his ship as the Avengers find themselves distracted.
BY NAMOR AND HIS ATLANTEAN HORDE! They attack the Avengers as the team is taking a break from helping aliens. Namor fights Iron Man as his warriors face the rest of the team. With a little help from Wasp, Shellhead escapes permanent injury. The Atlanteans, however, find that fighting someone like Thor isn't an easy task.
From here, the battle moves around the small island with small victories placed here and there on both sides. Thor and Namor fight it out leaving the rest of the Avengers to the Atlanteans. Captain America mostly stays out of the fight. He reasons that it's better to watch a battle like this than participate. Only when he finds the life of Rick Jones in peril does Steve Rogers enter the fray.
It's not the most graceful of battles. Cap enters strong but is torn off of his Atlantean foe by the much more powerful Sub-Mariner. Rogers is spared this reunion by a sudden rumbling that shakes the small island. Believing this to be sure signs of an earthquake, Namor and his warriors escape back into the ocean. Namor is pretty certain that the Avengers will be destroyed in the earthquake but isn't sure if that's what he wants. Nevertheless, he and his fellow Atlanteans swim away to fight another day.
The remaining Avengers find that they aren't facing a dangerous earthquake at all. They're only witnessing their friend, Sparey, leaving the planet in his repaired spaceship. The Avengers watch as the craft flies out of sight.
All that's left is the crying. I mean, the job offer. Cap was so brave to watch the Avengers fight, only interfering when "the boy" was in danger, that he just has to be offered membership into their lofty ranks. Captain America accepts their invitation and becomes the very first non-founding Avenger to join the team.
This is all well and good for the Avengers but Rick isn't so sure it's a good idea. I mean, Captain America's got his own issues that need dealing with and he's obviously not over the supposed death of Bucky Barnes. There's also the matter of the Incredible Hulk to deal with. How's the green goliath going to take his slot on the team being filled by another? Is he even going to care?
Nah. He's not.
Captain America #5
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Ron Garney
Capmania is in full effect! What is Capmania? Well, it's a rage that is sweeping the nation where normal Americans are drawn to almost worshiping Captain America following his return from Heroes Reborn.
You can imagine what Captain America thinks about that.
Anyway, the issue opens with Captain America and the Avengers taking down a Hydra cell. Hydra has been gunning for Cap since his return and their leader, the Sensational Hydra, has been especially keen to build up "Capmania" for undisclosed reasons. Cap is trying to learn why he's Hydra's specific focus until he learns that he ISN'T. Hydra lacks a central control and the individual cells all act independently. The Hydra agent he's cornered reveals the existence of the Sensational Hydra but claims to have no allegiance to him. It's not enough to get Cap to back down, though, and this cell is taken into SHIELD custody.
In SHIELD custody, the talkative Hydra agent is gunned down by a SHIELD agent who quickly reveals himself to by that Sensational Hydra everyone's talking about! Wow. Small world!
Sensational didn't kill out of anger, though. The Hydra agent gave Cap info that he himself wanted Cap to know. Sensational's just a bit crazy. And a shape changer. The later reveal would probably be more surprising if this wasn't a column currently dedicated to Skrulls. o_O
Sensational does his killing and books before SHIELD can get a bead on him.
Meanwhile, Captain America takes Thor to a down-home American diner
These diner people don't even bat an EYE to see Cap and Thor walk in and order milk shakes. That is one hell of a diner. You can just imagine the rest of their clientele. Still, it gives our two heroes a chance to talk about Capmania. Thor is all for super belief. He's a god. He expects people to worship him in their own ways. Cap, being a mortal and more humble than a speeding bullet, is not as easy around adulation. Sure, he's awesome but is he SUPER awesome?
Before this conversation gets boring, we're given Cap's next Hydra challenge. The Sensational Hydra and his peeps have taken hostages on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Cap needs to come rescue them alone or the hostages die!
Cap, of course, goes to the rescue. On the way to the ESB, he's surrounded by more camera crews and reporters than he can shake his shield at. This includes an incredibly tenacious reporter by the name of Gordon Winchester. He's going to join Cap on this adventure whether Steve likes it or not.
This actually makes the battle challenging for Captain America. Instead of just busting through Hydras, he's got to keep an eye on his reporter tag-a-long and keep him alive. OK, not THAT challenging. Cap notices that these guys are almost falling over themselves. He's walking into a trap and he's fully aware of it. Still, part of Capmania has kind of gotten a hold of him. He's believing his own hype.
What he never realized was that Gordon Winchester was the Sensational Hydra all along! What Cap AND Hydra never realized was that the Sensational Hydra was a Skrull all along! Also: those hostages are ALSO Skrulls.
The Sensational Skrull Winchester ties up some loose ends by having the Skrull hostages gun down the Hydras right before Cap's eyes. Cap gets his head in the game too late. While rushing the "hostage" Skrulls, Sensational is able to catch him in Skrull-cuffs. This is a gold compound that inhibits movement and reacts to a Skrull's ability to change shape.
With that out of the way, Sensational takes Cap's place as his assistants throw the incapacitated Steve Rogers into the nearest utility cabinet. Sensational Cap parachutes down to the streets below telling the media that the Hydras inside the Empire State Building killed themselves after he rescued the two hostages. He's also got some big plans to reveal... next issue!
Captain America #6
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Dale Eaglesham
The Sensational Captain America has some redecorating to do. He's taking down all his American Flags. He'll burn them later but first he's got to deal with that gosh darn Scarlet Witch. She's upset that Cap is getting more fan mail than her. It's like a room full. She only got that much fan mail after Brian Bendis made her insane in the membrane. WTF, Cap. WTF!?
Poor Wanda. If it makes her feel any better she looks to be killing more people in post-Secret Invasion Mighty Avengers. That's sort of like fame, right? Infamy?
OK, anyway, Sensational Cap is ecstatic at the fan mail because it just means his plan is working all the better. The nation trusts Cap with everything. Soon, he'll be loving every minute of sweet, sweet Skrull revenge.
Meanwhile, Cap struggles in an Empire State Building utility closet. He's wearing Skrull handcuffs and, no matter what he does, he can't get free. He tries to burn them off but the cuffs alter their form to compensate. Actually, they shield themselves with ice... you'd think that would be the wrong direction to go when dealing with flame... He mulls over the mistake he made of getting cocky while fighting Hydra and then tries as hard as he can to electrocute himself.
Geez. Cap is hardcore when it comes to punishing his own mistakes.
Elsewhere, President Clinton is giving an interview to finally set the record straight in regards to terrorism. That record straightening is to say what EVERY nation says about terrorism: we won't bow to them. We don't negotiate with them. It's not really the most insightful interview but it's possible he just didn't get to the good stuff about withholding candy from them. Why not? Well, he's attacked by terrorists. This is pre-911, so the terrorists aren't arab stereotypes. They're just unruly sorts with bad shoulder length hair and facial stubble. Fortunately, Sensational Cap is around to make things right.
Granted, the terrorists are really his assistant Skrulls who easily elude capture but anything for a good photo-op. He uses this opportunity to rally the media to a press conference featured later in this issue.
The real Cap has just failed to electrocute himself and also to electrocute his handcuffs off. Captain America isn't one to give up, though. He drags himself off to the nearest elevator for Round Three.
Meanwhile, the Sensational Cap prepares his next move. He orders his Skrull compatriots to assume the forms of a "congressman" (really, they all look the same) and a "reporter." They are to follow his lead but he's playing this one close to the vest so they aren't let in on his broader schemes.
On his way out of the dressing room, he's confronted by Congressional hopeful, Andrew Bolt. While Bolt doesn't fit the "congressman" template, Cap heartily endorses him in front of as many cameras as he can endorse him in front of. Yes, Bolt's career is looking bright... for the next few minutes, at least.
The real Steve Rogers figures there's only one last thing to do. Since burning and electrocuting himself didn't work, he'll have to jump down an elevator shaft. On the way down he even tries to slit his wrists on the elevator shaft chord (speed and friction) for that double-suicide goodness. Before he hits the bottom, the Skrull handcuffs expand and envelope him. When he hits bottom, the cuffs shatter around him. He conned them into believing he had changed into a liquid form (which explains the "enveloping him" part) and apparently the cuffs weren't able to adapt quickly enough to smashing into the ground. The long and short: the real Captain America is free... but is he too late!?
The Sensational Cap holds his awesome press conference as the real deal makes his way to the faker.
Cap's big reveal to the nation is that one in every twenty people is a damn, dirty Skrull imposter! To prove it, he outs his two assistants (cleverly placed in the crowd). The other two Skrulls aren't quick on the uptake and take this as the moment to reveal themselves as Skrulls. They are immediately beaten up by the angry mob that was recently a group of calm media reporters and camera personnel. The Skrulls try to defend themselves only to be shot dead by Secret Servicemen.
Well, the angry mob is now an absolute frenzy of hysteria and Sensational Cap is stirring it up even further. He tells the American people that the Skrulls will be disguised as people different than you. They're everything you're afraid of or don't understand and must be killed! Don't think, just kill, people!
The real Cap finally makes the scene. Sensational doesn't seem all that worried. He switches to Skrull form and the two fight it out for a bit. Cap's got a crowd following him and one man pulls his uzi out and starts firing at the Skrull. Wait... a guy at a press conference brought an UZI with him? It's like he was WAITING for this day... Anyway, the rest of the angry crowd actually tries to calm the guy down (Not because they're against firing uzis at people. They're just against firing them at people standing near Captain America) but it's too late for that. The uzi-enabled citizen now thinks the more cautious members of his angry mob are Skrulls in disguise.
He opens fire just in case one of them MIGHT be a Skrull. Fortunately, Cap's there with his shield just in time to prevent the mad uzi man from committing multiple homicide. Steve's still one step behind but catching up quickly. The crazy man with a semi-automatic tells him the plot points he's missed. It looks like Capmania is now being used for as much mindless destruction as you can fit into a Comics Code approved comic.
Sensational Skrull finally gets that look of realization he was waiting for on Steve Roger's face and flies off to enjoy his handiwork from some safe location. At this point, all Cap can do is stare at what Capmania has wrought. It's a crazy riot in the streets and Cap is sort of responsible!
Captain America #7
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Dale Eaglesham & Andy Kubert
And it's not just New York. Sensational Cap's press conference went across the United States and Americans everywhere are getting in on the "kill people different than you" action.
Steve Rogers is doing his best to quell the riots but he's not doing it as Captain America. He's doing it as Concerned Citizen. He wears a battered polo shirt and wields a garbage can lid as a shield. I think we all prefer the triangle one to the garbage can lid. Note to Cap: garbage can lids are NOT bullet proof. Keep it in mind.
Still, this bit about Captain America not showing up to try and avert the riots is ticking Sensational Skrull off. Oh, sure, filling up hospitals with human casualties is a good day's work but to not see Cap struggling... it's just not Skrulltastic yet.
Steve checks in on Tony and Reed. They're building something special that'll end this whole deal. They just need time to make it. Tony really wants to be out there helping with riot control but Steve insists he's more valuable where he is. The rest of the Avengers are filling the riot control role pretty well but they can't be everywhere at once. They all have one question on their minds, too: why isn't Steve addressing this as Captain America?
Why indeed? It's driving Sensational Skrull batty. He'll have to make another appearance as Cap just to draw the real deal out in the open.
Out in Riot Nation, Quicksilver finally confronts Steve and finds out why he isn't out in the red, white, and blue. It's because as Captain America he'll only feed the panic. Getting on tv and trying to explain this all out will just confuse and anger people. We see what that does right here. It'll cause more people to shoot off their uzis. No, the only thing to do is keep fighting the good fight until the Sensational Skrull makes his next move. It's costing lives, though, and those lives are eating Steve up inside.
It's finally paying off. Sensational Cap is having another press conference. Quicksilver speeds Steve to the scene and Steve gets a hold of Tony to make sure the little invention he and Reed have been working on is ready to go to work.
The press conference is incredible shenanigans. Sensational reveals that President Clinton and several Congressmen have been replaced by Skrulls. He's planning a rally on Washington D.C. but, before his speech is concluded, he's forced back into Skrull form (courtesy of Tony and Reed's invention). After that, it's all about game over.
Steve makes the scene in his traditional garb and gets the rematch he was waiting for. While he beats down a Skrull, Reed Richards is telling the reporters that there is NO THREAT of Skrull Invasion. Ever. What would even give you that idea? Buy Secret Invasion!
No, but really, no invasion. Spread the word.
And then we just enjoy Cap pummeling a Skrull with the help of his friends.
With that done, Captain America holds his own press conference. He apologizes for whatever role he played in Capmania. He sets up his goals for the future. He realizes that people listened to Sensational Cap because the real Cap hadn't clearly defined his role for the American people. It's a speech about preparing for the new millenium. It's a nice speech that's more politician than substance.
I remember reading it way back in the day and thinking that Captain America would be a completely different comic after it. He straight up says that he's no longer a super hero and that his battles will more often than not focus on intolerance and injustice rather than the villain of the month. Looking back, it really didn't shift the paradigm all that much. Cap didn't actually make any big changes following this issue... but now I kinda want to reread the run to see if there were any changes at all.
It's hard to do when you're still in the Avengers and the next issue of your book is part of the "Live Kree or Die" crossover with your fellow Avengers books.
But that's another tale. For now, we just need Cap to stand atop the Statue of Liberty's torch and look heroic as he stares off into the sunset.
You give that sunset hell, Cap. It's the most unjust, intolerant thing ever.
These are the Captain America tales I've selected for this article. If you've been keeping up with Super Reads, you'll see that this thing is a LOT more compact than the one I did up for Thor's movie. That's because I figure I'd like three or four of you to get to the end of this article with your eyes still functional. There are a whole lot more Captain America adventures in the older columns and I invite you to look them over and see what you can see. For today, you've got a good look into the world of the Sentinel of Liberty. Now go out and see the Captain America movie if you haven't already!
If you liked anything you read here, I hope you'll show up and read my mostly weekly column where I break down Marvel's events in far too meticulous detail with refurbished panels to get in an easy laugh. It has been called the best damned article on the internet but what might be reliable sources.
Otherwise, I'll catch you around the internet. Excelsior!
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX
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