The original Captain America returns in “Captain America: Reborn,” out this week from Marvel Comics. With the Fourth of July weekend upon us, here’s a look back at some of the greatest story lines featuring Steve Rogers, Marvel’s patriotic superhero.
“Secret Empire/Nomad”These two story lines, written by Steve Englehart, are among the most famous adventures of Captain America.
Captain America discovers a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of the U.S. government. He’s disillusioned by what he’s discovered, and gives up the Captain America identity to become Nomad. This Watergate-era Captain America examined what happened to the country’s greatest super-heroic symbol when the government failed to live up to his trust. “Secret Empire” ran in issues 169-176 of “Captain America.” “Nomad” ran in issues 177-186.
Englehart said Captain America is a product of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s rebuilding of the country’s spirit.
“He believes deeply in the ideals of America, the things they taught us all in school about why this is the greatest country on Earth,” Englehart said in “Marvel Spotlight” No. 18, the “Captain America” theme issue. “Which is why, when the actual America falls short of that, his first reaction is to try to set things right.”
Marvel Spotlight No. 18 currently is available to read for free at Marvel.com.
Captain America for president
Writer Roger Stern (“Avengers”) and artist John Byrne (“Uncanny X-Men”) had a brief but well-remembered run on Captain America, currently collected in the “War and Remembrance” trade paperback.
Perhaps their best-known story line featured a third party soliciting Captain America as a presidential candidate. Jim Shooter, then Marvel’s editor in chief, suggested Stern and Byrne should consider the story.
“I was still skeptical at first,” said Stern in “Marvel Spotlight” No. 18. “I didn’t think that Cap was the type who would be interested in running for office. But then Jim said that should be the whole point of the story – that we should make it about who Cap is and why he wouldn’t run.”
The story ran in “Captain America” No. 250; the Stern-Byrne run went from issues 247-255.
President fires Cap
In the space of a few years, Steve Rogers went from a chance at becoming president to being fired by the president. In “Captain America” No. 332, a government commission demands that Captain America answer solely to it. Rogers refuses, and gives up the costume of Captain America. Writer Mark Gruenwald, who wrote “Captain America” for a record 137 issues, talked to the magazine “Amazing Heroes” in 1988 about ways to create an attention-grabbing story line.
“No. 1, kill somebody important in the book, preferably the lead character. That’ll get the book looked at. Short of that, change the character dramatically. A new uniform might do it. Or get him out of uniform and replace him. Or change his life in some other major way: get him married off or whatever. So, I did three of the above,” Gruenwald said.
In the story line, the government hires its own Captain America, and Steve Rogers continues to fight for liberty while wearing a predominantly black costume and calling himself simply “The Captain.”
The story line ran from Captain America 332-350, and still is remembered fondly today. Gruenwald died in 1996 at age 43 after suffering a heart attack. These issues aren’t available in trade paperback, but can be found in the back issue bins of many comic-book stores.
By Matthew Price
From Friday’s The Oklahoman