Born circa 1929, William Burnside idolized Captain America (Steve Rogers) and avidly followed all reports of Cap’s adventures alongside his partner Bucky (James Barnes) and joined Cap’s fan club, the Sentinels of Liberty. Following the reported deaths of Captain America and Bucky in 1945, the young man dedicated his life to the study of Captain America, earning a Ph.D. in American history in 1952, with a thesis on the legendary hero. Early in 1953, Burnside traveled to Germany to conduct research on wartime Axis files on Captain America. In the process, he discovered files revealing the true identity of the original Captain America as well as the lost Super Soldier serum formula. Returning to the United States, Burnside reported his finding to the government, but refused to divulge the serum’s secrets unless allowed to become the new Captain America himself. Unlike previous successors to the identity, the scholar fanatically sought to become not only Captain America but also Steve Rogers, undergoing surgery to change his face and vocal cords and legally changing his name accordingly. However, when the Korean War ended, the government withdrew its plans for a national hero, and Burnside kept the serum for himself. Burnside eventually became a history teacher at Connecticut’s Lee School, where he befriended student and fellow Cap aficionado Jack Monroe.
In late 1953, the new communist Red Skull (Albert Malik), seeking the supposed secrets of Adolf Hitler’s strongbox, took hostages at the United Nations building, where he believed the strongbox hidden. Learning of the incident, "Rogers" injected himself and Monroe with the Super-Soldier serum. Gaining superhuman strength, they took the Captain America and Bucky identities as their own, thwarting the Skull in a high-profile battle. The patriotic duo defeated many other menaces, many of whom were Communists agents or sympathizers. However, unlike the original Cap, Rogers and Monroe had not received vita-rays to stabilize the Super-Soldier serum’s effects, so the duo eventually succumbed to insanity. Their already zealous anti-communist vigilance devolving into paranoid racism, they attacked several innocent people over a series of months; during one such attack, Rogers was pulled decades forward in time by the Contemplator to join the original Cap and others in battling the android Adam-II on Earth-8206, although Rogers’ carelessness resulted in him being controlled by Adam-II before being returned. Finally, in late 1955, government officials, unable to persuade Rogers and Monroe to undergo treatment, captured them and placed them in suspended animation at a government facility in the South. Under the top-secret “Deep Freeze” program, cryogenic suspension’s effects upon the duo were studied, but scientists were unable to treat their madness, and the duo were eventually all but forgotten by the US government.
Later, a government employee displeased with US policies released Burnside and Monroe, both still insane. Learning of the original Cap’s activities, they presumed him to be a would-be successor working with communists. They captured Cap and his associates, Falcon (Sam Wilson) and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter. Belatedly realizing his opponent was the true Cap, Burnside suffered a nervous breakdown, allowing Jack and himself to be defeated. The government sent Burnside and Monroe to a Catskills mental institution, secretly managed by Cap’s enemy Doctor Faustus for the Corporation. After several Corporation setbacks, Faustus, having developed a mind-control gas, sought to control New York via the fascistic National Force. Faustus tested the gas on Burnside and Monroe, then sadistically ordered Burnside to shoot Monroe. Burnside did so, unaware his gun was filled with blanks. Believing he had killed his longtime friend, although Monroe survived and was eventually taken into SHIELD custody, ultimately becoming the costumed hero Nomad. Faustus established Rogers as “Grand Director” of the fascistic National Force, who spread Faustus’ mind-gas during pre-arranged confrontations intended as prelude to infecting all of New York City. Aided by Daredevil (Matt Murdock), Captain America defeated the Grand Director, Faustus, and the National Force. During which, Burnside overheard Faustus boast to a captive about Monroe’s supposed death, Burnside, losing his last shred of sanity, apparently committed suicide via the incineration device in his uniform, his thoughts on a betrayal he had never actually perpetrated.
After the original Captain America's apparent death, Sharon Carter learned that the Red Skull (Johann Shmidt) and Faustus placed Burnside's body in suspended animation so that he would heal from his fire wounds. Released, Burnside learned of the Red Skull's involvement left Dr. Faustus' association after helping to rescue Sharon Carter from Arnim Zola. Burnside began wandering the world as a man out of time, discovering the brave new world.
Burnside returned to his home town of Boise, Idaho discovering that the America he once knew no longer existed. Determined to make America “right,” Burnside enlisted the aide of the terrorist group known as Watchdogs, whom he considered to be true patriots, and captured Captain America (James Barnes), forcing him to wear his Bucky uniform and become Burnside's Bucky, threatening Falcon (Sam Wilson)'s life if he refused. Planning to blow up the Hoover Dam, both Barnes and Falcon defeated Burnside after Barnes seemingly killed Burnside after shooting him with an assault gun. Burnside's body fell into the waters below the Hoover Dam and have yet to be recovered.