Beginners Guide: Captain America

With a string of movies, we take it for granted people know all there is to know about Captain America. Here at Superheroes For Dummies, we try to not fall into that trap. For Episode 15 we were once again joined by Matt B Lloyd, who took us right back to the start. If you’ve ever been unsure about the finer details of Cap, we’ve got you covered.

The Hero We Needed

Created by the star pairing of Simon and Kirby, this all American hero first appeared in his own title, Captain America #1, at the end of 1940. For a character who is a well-known Nazi hater, it’s no surprise the cover had him punching Hitler in the face. Although this may not seem controversial now, it’s important to remember that this was a year before Pearl Harbour. The idea of joining the war was not a popular one amongst the American public. Hate mail and threats followed, but the patriotic trends won out, and he quickly gained a strong following.

It’s worth noting that this wasn’t the only controversial part of the first issue. Captain America first joined us with a triangular, stars and stripes shield. MLJ Comics, later Archie, had an issue with this; their character, The Shield, had a similar triangular flag on his costume. Luckily for us, rather than protracted legal arguments, Simon and Kirby changed it to the round shield we know for issue #2.

Although his popularity remained high during the war years, he was not immune to the post-war demise of superheroes. By Captain America #73 in July 1949, the title had moved away from superhero adventures and was cancelled. Timely Comics, renamed Atlas, attempted to re-introduce Cap in 1953, but by 1954 he was again cancelled.
Luckily for us, by the early ’60s, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were working on the superhero revival for the recently renamed Marvel Comics. In Avengers #4, 1964, the team found Captain America frozen in ice in the North Atlantic. He was back for good.

Chasing Destiny

It didn’t take long for Captain America to find his way to being the leader of the Avengers, a testament to his strength and leadership. It wasn’t until January ’69, with Captain America #109 that we found out where it came from.

Steve Rogers was a frail and weak young man but determined to do his part. Having read in the newspapers what the Nazis were doing in Europe, he couldn’t stand for it. Heading down to the recruitment station, enlistment in the Army was calling him. However, the doctors there had no intention of allowing him to enlist, he was far too weak. Loudly protesting and demanding he be able to help, his determination attracted the attention of General Chester Phillips. The General offered him a solution; he could be a human guinea pig in a dangerous experiment. Steve didn’t hesitate, this may be his only opportunity after all, and thus he was introduced to world-renowned physicist Professor Reinstein.

Reinstein took Steve to his secret lab, hidden above a non-descript shop. He injected Steve with a secret serum and then, in front of government and military elite, bombarded him with Vita-Rays. These rays reacted with the secret serum attached to his cells, surging power and vitality throughout his body, the once frail man, was transformed into a super-soldier. Although not a superhuman, his body was now immune to disease, weakness and infirmity. Steve was to be the first in Reinstein’s army of super soldiers. Little did they know, a german spy had worked their way in amongst the guests. Recognising the importance of the information in the professor’s mind, the spy shot him dead in front of everyone. Steve swore at that moment to do everything he could to fight fascism.

Taking The Fight To The Enemy

With his newfound strength and athleticism, he begun his fight against the Nazis, single-handedly performing missions behind enemy lines, much to the joy of the newspapers back home. Headlines were full of sabotage and prisoner rescue. He wouldn’t be alone for long, soon joined by Bucky, a highly capable young soldier trained by commandos. The two would often battle against Red Skull, a crazed scientist and agent of Hitler, as well as many other foes that stood for the power of evil.
One such character was Baron Zemo, the scientist who led to the apparent demise of Captain America.

Zemo was launching an explosive-filled drone into the air, chased by Cap and Bucky. The two managed to grab hold as it took off, attempting to disarm the explosives before it caused devastation. Zemo, however, was one step ahead and had set a booby trap.
Whilst trying to neutralise the bomb, Cap losses his grip. Falling from the plane, he watches as the booby trap is triggered, exploding the drone and killing his good friend Bucky. Splashing down in the North Atlantic, Caps body was frozen by the frigid waters, the serum in his body preserving his cells, awaiting the rescue that would come more than twenty years later.

Lost In Time

Recalling the story as though it were yesterday, Cap starts to come to terms with the fact his friend has been dead for decades. The world has changed and is largely unrecognisable to him, as is he just a distant memory to many around him. As you may expect, a character with the strength of will of Captain America does not stay in the shadows. He is soon a part of the fight against oppression and evil once again, and a hero to many.
We may think we know Steve Rogers from the very popular movies, but ‘scratching the surface’ is an understatement.

If you would like to know more then I encourage you to listen to the episode. We uncover stories and events that will definitely leave you wanting more; There’s the time he lost his superpowers and had to compensate with rigorous training, the events of the Civil War, his time as an apparent Hydra agent and the return of Bucky.

Steve‘s Reading List:

  • Marvel Masterworks Captain America Comics Vol.1-5
  • Marvel Essentials Captain America Vol 1-3
  • Marvel Comics Index- Heroes from Tales of Suspense- Book 1: Captain America (Marvel Comics Index Vol. 1 No. 8A)
  • Captain America: Red, White, and Black
  • Civil War
  • The Death Of Captain America
  • The Winter Soldier

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