Who Has Been the Red Skull?
Pair the action inside 'Captain America' with a look at the history of his greatest foe!
And now the action continues in November 18's CAPTAIN AMERICA #25, as Captain America and his closest allies marshal their forces into Madripoor to help out the daring Daughters of Liberty...but waiting in the wings for them is—who else!?—the reborn Red Skull!
Pre-order that mag with your local comic shop right now, righteous ones!
Say, didja know a few different freakish fiends have called themselves the Red Skull over the years? We all know for a fact that the real crimson cranium belongs to Johann Schmidt, but when that crafty criminal was down for the count there were three other riotous Red Skull replacements! S’truth! Read on!
The first faux Skull was a bigtime American businessman!
It now stands as legend that Captain America’s greatest enemy made his diabolical debut in the same bombastic book as our hero, 1941’s CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1, but...that wasn’t really the Red Skull! Yes, indeed, you’re correct, Clyde—we got some ‘splainin’ t’do!
The Skull bedeviled Bucky and Cap in that issue as well as in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS (1941) #3 and YOUNG ALLIES COMICS (1941) #1, but then disappeared—he looked dead, but with these kooky cut-ups, who can tell?—only to make another rancorous return in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #7. But…only that fourth feature was the sinister Schmidt, the real Red Skull! What? Yes!
See, Schmidt himself explained TALES OF SUSPENSE (1959) #66 that George Maxon, the head of the mighty Maxon Aircraft Corporation, was simply a stand-in Skull and not the Real Deal. Cap sensed it and sussed it out himself, but Schmidt confirmed it and the rest is now heinous history. Maxon wound up dead and the Red Skull’s evil empire enlarged and expanded far beyond him.
The second supposed Skull was an agent of Soviet Russia!
Face front, heroes, ‘cause you’re gonna need all the light you can get for us to illuminate the tangled web we’re about to weave for ya…ready, steady, go!
Both Steve Rogers and Johann Schmidt stumbled into suspended animation at the end of World War II in 1945—got it? Good! Now, the American government kicked off a succession of Sentinels of Liberty, sure, but their rascally rivals also decided to let a legacy live! Yep, and that eternal evil went by the name o’ the Red Skull…except that time he was a KGB agent!
Albert Malik wore the bright red chrome-dome in the late 1940s through the 1950s while Schmidt slumbered and Rogers rested. He kicked off his own brand of badness in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS (1941) #61 when he fought Jeff Mace as Cap—or was it William Burnside? We can’t keep ‘em straight!—and even continued his criminal enterprises into the modern era. In fact, he was responsible for the sad demise of Peter Parker’s parents and later battled both Spider-Man and Hawkeye before succumbing to steel-jacketed slugs from the Scourge of the Underworld…then an agent of the real Red Skull!
Phew! We need a breather!
The third temporary Skull was the daughter of the original!
As they say…not an imaginary story! It’s a frank fact that the Red Skull had a child and, angry over the kid being a girl, he abandoned her to be raised by someone else and then reversed course later to scoop her up, stick her in a quick-aging machine, and bring her into his frightening fold of fiendishness. Yikes! Her name? Sinthea Schmidt, but in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #290, readers met her as the malevolent Mother Superior.
Now, ‘round about CAPTAIN AMERICA (2004) #612 ol’ Sin had been significantly scarred by one of dear dad’s devilish devices, and, believing Pappy to be pushing up daisies, she took a passionate prompt from a man with the moniker of Master Man to become the new Red Skull! Her tenure didn’t last too long, thankfully, but the third Skull tried to live up to her name—Sin—and did a fair job at it, though when Johann returned and took back his mantle, she settled comfortably into her old audacious ways.
So, Maxon and Malik are no-more, but Sin continues her evil every day, recently having pushed the agenda of “Neo-Hydra” and causing all kinds of trouble for Captain America and his costumed companions. We said before: the evil of the Red Skull’s eternal, Effendi, no matter who wears the crash helmet…which makes us glad there’s always a patriotic patrolman on duty to smash every one of their schemes!
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