Captain America is a fictional character created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, and he made his first appearance in March, 1941, in Captain America Comics published by Timely Comics, the predecessor of Marvel Comics. The popularity of this superhero has generated over 200 million copies of âCaptain America” comics in 75 countries.
In almost all stories of his origin, Captain America’s alter ego is Steve Rogers, a sickly young man who was “transformed” to the superhero character by an experimental serum. He was enhanced to the peak of human perfection to help the United States 2nd World War effort. He is identified by his costume that bears an American flag motif, and possess and indestructible shield that can be thrown as a weapon.
The shield was introduced in the 1960s comics, made accidentally by metallurgist Dr. Myron MacLain from an experimental alloy of steel and the fictional metal, vibranium. Because the alloy was produced accidentally it could never be duplicated. Attempts were made to reverse engineer it, but these were unsuccessful, although the result was another mythical substance, adamantum. The shield became Captain America’s main weapon, returning to him after being thrown. This lack of duplication of special powers or materials figures extensively in all superhero tales.
Apart from the shield, Captain America rides a custom Harley Davidson motorbike, modified by a weapons lab specifically for him. He also drives a battle-van, custom built by a company known as the Wakanda Design Group. Not only did it possess a chameleon-like ability to change color, but it also had room to hold the Harley in its rear section.
Captain America’s uniform is fire-retardant. Under it is a lightweight, bullet-proof “duralumin” material that he wore for added protection. His mask was originally a separate piece of material, but it was dislodged during a fight, and because this almost resulted in his identity being revealed, he decided to have it connected permanently to his uniform so there could be no recurrence of this. An added bonus was that his previously exposed neck was now better protected.
Joe Simon tells of how he created the superhero. He sketched the character wearing his costume, and came up with the name ‘Super American’. However, because he believed that one more ‘Super’ added to all the rest around at the time would not ripple any waters, he decided to change it to ‘Captain’ because there weren’t many of these in comics. So Captain America was born. Jo Simon’s friend was named Bucky Pierson, so he took that as the basis for Captain America’s sidekick, James ‘Bucky’ Barnes.
Timely Comics best times were during the Captain America era, particularly during the wartime period. The reason he was created was to fight the Axis Powers of World War II: Germany, Italy and Japan. He was definitely the most popular character then due to timeliness and the relevance of his adventures. His popularity dropped rapidly after the war, and he disappeared in 1950 to make way for a new era of comic characters and superheroes.
An attempt was made by Atlas Comics, part of the Marvel group, in the early 1950s to revive the popularity of many of the superheroes. Captain America was resurrected along with the original Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner in Young Men #24 in December of 1953. However, this reappearance lasted only a short time, and having failed to attract new readers, Atlas put the character to bed once again in the September, 1954 issue of Captain America #78.
However, this was not the end for Captain America, and he reappeared yet again in 1964. This was during what became known as the ‘Silver Age’ of comics, and the story of his second resurrection was provided to readers in Issue #4 of The Avengers (March, 1964). The reason provided was that at the end of the war, he fell into the Atlantic Ocean when flying an experimental plane and was frozen in a block of ice. He was found and revived by The Avengers team, coming back from suspended animation and ready to regain his place as leader of the team. He was given his own series that featured Captain America predominantly as a solo character.
Using the original cover title when Captain America was presented along with The Falcon, this series of issues covered the period #134 in February, 1971 to #222 in June, 1978. In Captain America vol. 5, #25 in March 2007, Steve Rogers was believed to be assassinated. To hide the fact, Bucky Barnes took up Rogers’ character in the succeeding publications of the comic book Captain America. Later, Steve was revealed to be alive. He returns, but insists that Bucky continue to keep his identity. He then began operating as an intelligence agent in the series Steve Rogers: Super Soldier.
Rogers’ return was explained in the six-issue mini-series Captain America: Reborn, from September 2009 to March 2010. He was not dead but “caroming through time” and returned to the present day. Barnes continued as Captain America with “Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield?” in February 2010.
At one time, Captain America is plagued by guilt for Buckyâs death. He believes he should have been able to prevent Bucky being blown up by a bomb (although Bucky was not really dead). Not long after, he takes in Rick Jones, a young boy who closely resembles Bucky in many ways. He took care of Rick, but could not totally let go of Bucky’s memories. It took him sometime to allow Jones to take up the Bucky identity because he did not wish to be responsible for another youth’s death. It was Jones’ patience that helped the hero overcome the pain of losing his friend and, finally, Jones convinced Rogers that he should put on the Bucky costume. However, impersonating Rogers with the aid of the Cosmic Cube, Red Skull was able to drive Jones away and the young man was gone forever.
Throughout his missions, Rogers has shown his vast knowledge of the U.S. military and has possessed amazing combat skills. His survival techniques have enabled him to undergo a number of resurrections, and he gained an intimate knowledge of espionage through his interaction with the S.H.I.E.L.D. and love affair with agent Sharon Carter.
Captain America has been part of all three classical ages of comic superheroes: the Golden Age, Silver Age and the Heroic Age of the 2010s. How long he will last and how many more resurrections he will undergo is anybody’s guess, but one thing is sure: Captain America was a true superhero and shall always remain so in the minds of followed him and loved him, of whom there are, sadly, ever fewer as the years go by.