An expert in biochemistry and Super-Soldier projects, Professor and scientist Abraham Erskine creates the serum that enhances Steve Rogers and propels him to become Captain America.
A world-famous German Jewish scientist, Professor Abraham Erskine spent most of his life trying to find a method of producing a biologically ideal human being in the hopes of wiping out disease and infirmity. To this end, he created a revolutionary method of growing food that, when combined with a special lifetime routine of isometric exercises, would help a person reach their peak physical potential.
Erskine is a brilliant scientist with a Ph.D. in biochemistry and possesses an extensive knowledge of biology and physics.
Forced by the Nazi’s to participate in Project Nietzsche, a super-soldier army, Erskine abhorred their horrific methods and atrocities. He seeks out allies to escape their iron fist. Though Nazi agent Heinz Kruger found him in the United States and assassinated him.
Colleagues and Comrades
During his career, he strikes up friendships with many other scientists including Albert Einstein, Ernst Fleischer, Wilfred Nagel, and Hans Bruder, though a rift forms between Erskine and his daughter, Esme.
Seeking an escape from Nazi Germany, Erskine sends a desperate coded message to England and then a team of soldiers led by U.S. Lt. Sam Sawyer, Red Hargrove and Nick Fury Sr., liberated him. They also faked his death and changed his name to protect his identity. Steve Rogers was the young volunteer that received Erskine’s secret Super-Soldier Serum and is present at his assassination.
The Scientist Behind the Serum
When the Nazis rose to power in Germany, Erskine presumably hid his Jewish heritage to avoid persecution and was among the scientists forced to participate in Project Nietzsche, an attempt to create a super-soldier army in a more immediate manner than Erskine’s diet and exercise method. During this time Erskine, alongside Hans Bruder, studied the frozen body of superhuman John Steele along with the remains of many dead Atlanteans to learn about their superhuman physiques. Sickened by the Nazi atrocities, Erskine sent a coded message to England expressing his desire to defect to America.
In February 1940, a team of soldiers led by United States Lt. Sam Sawyer, and including independent operatives Red Hargrove and Nick Fury, ambushed a convoy taking Erskine to meet with Nazi leaders in Luxembourg and rescued the professor. The Americans spread a story that Erskine had been killed in a car accident and gave the scientist the code name “Josef Reinstein” as he worked on their Super-Soldier program, Operation: Rebirth. This was a devastating loss for Project Nietzsche, though Erskine’s early research was put to limited use in creating three elite agents called the Vernichtungs Kommandos (Blitzangriff, Säurespritze, Zahnmörder).
Refining his methods, Erskine created a process wherein a subject would ingest, as well as be injected with, a “super serum” and would then be bombarded with radioactive vita-rays that stabilized the serum’s effects. A rumor spread that Erskine never wrote any of his notes down and memorized everything; in reality, he made only partial copies of the super-serum equations. Lieutenant-Colonel James Fletcher was the only person apart from Erskine to have details about the vita-rays, and other Rebirth scientists only knew pieces of the serum’s composition. Months of testing evaluated candidates to be the process’ first recipient; potentials included Harmon Furmintz, Jack Windmere, Gilmore Hodge and adventurer Duvid Fortunov, AKA Dominic Fortune, though all were turned down for various reasons until Steve Rogers, a young volunteer who had been rated too frail to join the army, was chosen.
With political and military leaders looking on, Rogers was put through Erskine’s process and immediately developed a peak-human physique, proving Erskine’s technique successful. Having infiltrated Rebirth using forged credentials, Nazi agent Heinz Kruger shot and killed Erskine immediately after the test, preventing Rebirth’s plan to create a super-soldier army and leaving them with only Rogers, who would become Captain America. Other men who had been training to be enhanced following Rogers, including Tyler Paxton, were dismissed.
With Erskine dead, Dr. Wilfred Nagel, who had also recently defected to America, took over the role of “Reinstein” in Operation: Rebirth and tried to recreate Erskine’s success. At a memorial for Erskine, his daughter, Esme, met Tyler Paxton, and the two fell in love. Their son Jacob also became a scientist working to recreate his grandfather’s serum. Erskine’s notes regarding the diet and exercise routine were left to his family, and another grandson, Brian Van Patrick, used them to develop his son Michael into an ideal human specimen, who later joined the Initiative as MVP.