Captain America: Steve Rogers' Best Moments in Comics
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For over eight decades, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s Captain America has blazed a trail as a comic book icon and earned his place among the top heroes in the Marvel Universe. During most of that time, Steve Rogers has been the man behind the shield. Steve may not be the only Captain America anymore, but his inspiring journey continues to this day in the new ongoing series, CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINEL OF LIBERTY (2022) by writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and artist Carmen Carnero.
This week, CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINEL OF LIBERTY (2022) #1 arrived on digital comics super-service Marvel Unlimited. To mark the occasion, we’re taking a look back at some of Steve Rogers’ best moments in comics. This is by no means the definitive list of every great Steve Rogers story. Instead, it’s simply a collection of memorable milestones that you can read at any time on Marvel Unlimited!
CAP PROVES HIS IDENTITY: AVENGERS (1963) #4
Steve Rogers’ first appearance in the Silver Age of the Marvel Universe happened in the fourth issue of AVENGERS (1963). Earth’s Mightiest Heroes found Steve floating in the ice after he spent decades in suspended animation. After taking a moment to compose himself, Steve proved his identity as Captain America by challenging all of the Avengers at once. His considerable skills quickly turned the team into believers.
This issue also provided a glimpse at the doomed mission that put Cap on ice and apparently led to the death of his sidekick, Bucky Barnes. But we didn’t learn the truth about Bucky’s fate until several decades later.
CAPTAIN AMERICA MUST DIE!: CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #176
Following the final defeat of the Secret Empire in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #175, Steve Rogers despaired when he learned that the conspiracy that nearly took down America was led by a high ranking government official. Cap was so disheartened that he questioned the need for Captain America. This was also the first time that Steve truly realized that he could no longer blindly follow orders from the government. Administrations come and go, but Steve’s moral compass is his guide, even when he felt disillusioned about everything he believed in.
“LET STEVE WHO IS WORTHY”: THOR (1966) #390
The inscription on Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, famously states "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." For a very long time, there was only a short list of characters who lived up to that standard. In context, the moment happened when Thor had some serious questions about a conflict that unfolded between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark during the ARMOR WARS event. The God of Thunder truly didn’t know which of his friends was at fault.
When the forces of Seth arrived and briefly overpowered Thor, Steve removed all doubts in the Odinson’s mind when he lifted Mjolnir and threw it to its rightful owner. Although Steve wasn’t transformed into a version of Thor, he did briefly gain the power. And through that shared bond, Thor reaffirmed his friendship with Steve.
RECLAIMING THE MANTLE: CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #350
During the period listed above, Steve Rogers was going by “The Captain” because he resigned from the role of Captain America in issue #332 due to the government wanting him to act as their puppet. That’s why John Walker was drafted to become the new Captain America. Unfortunately for everyone, John just wasn’t cut out for the role. While Steve is thoughtful and introspective, John’s a bit of a hothead and he was mentally unbalanced following the murder of his parents.
[RELATED: Meet John Walker in 'U.S.Agent']
Naturally, this was part of the Red Skull’s larger plan. And it all came to a head in issue #350 when Steve and John came to blows. In defeat, even John conceded that Steve was the man who deserved to be Captain America. With a renewed sense of purpose, Steve accepted the mantle once again.
FACING DEATH: CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #443
A few years later, Steve learned that the Super-Soldier Serum in his blood was failing him. Regardless, Steve decided to continue being a hero and he used a suit of armor to enhance his rapidly fading strength. But in issue #443, Steve’s time was up. After being warned that he had only 24 hours to live, Steve tried to tie up the loose ends in his life and ensure that the things he fought for continued even if Captain America did not.
In his last hours, Steve even had a heart-to-heart conversation with his frequent adversary, Batroc the Leaper. Much to Steve’s surprise, Batroc was good company and a sympathetic ear for Steve as he faced the end of his life with the same courage he displayed against the world’s most dangerous Super Villains.
THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN AMERICA: CAPTAIN AMERICA (2004) #25
Although Steve escaped his fate in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #443, he ultimately perished in CAPTAIN AMERICA (2004) #25. In the aftermath of the CIVIL WAR event, Steve was facing trial for his actions before Crossbones attempted to assassinate him. A brainwashed Sharon Carter finished the job as the Red Skull finally secured his victory over his hated foe.
Yet even in death the spirit of Captain America endured. Steve Rogers’ demise lit a fire under Bucky Barnes, AKA Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson, AKA Falcon. That’s why they formed a partnership, and Bucky went on to become the new Captain America to carry on the legacy in Steve’s name.
THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN AMERICA: CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN (2009) #6
The Red Skull had far more insidious plans for Steve Rogers than simply killing him. Instead of dying when he was struck by the bullets, Steve became unstuck in time until Arnim Zola summoned him to the present so that the Red Skull could take over Steve’s body and pervert his legacy as Cap.
In CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN (2009) #6, Steve not only forced Red Skull’s mind out of his body, he also led the Avengers against the Red Skull when he was trapped in a giant robotic body. Fighting alongside Cap for the first time in years galvanized the Avengers, and that helped carry them through the SIEGE that followed into a new age of heroes.
A NEW CAP: CAPTAIN AMERICA (2012) #25
Following his adventures in Dimension Z, Steve Rogers was stripped of his youth and his powers when the Super-Soldier Serum in his body was rendered inert. Rather than simply accepting defeat and retirement, Steve found new ways to continue the battle against evil. But in CAPTAIN AMERICA (2012) #25, Steve acknowledged that the mantle should go to his friend, Sam Wilson.
This led to Sam’s initial run as the Star-spangled Avenger and a larger role in the Marvel Universe. Although Sam briefly returned to his previous codename as Falcon, he is once again Captain America alongside Steve in his own ongoing series, CAPTAIN AMERICA: SYMBOL OF TRUTH.
Read all these stories starring the Sentinel of Liberty, plus many more, on Marvel Unlimited. You’ll also gain access to a digital library of over 30,000 digital issues spanning 80 years of Marvel Comics!
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