German defector and scientist Dr. Wilfred Nagel is an expert in Super-Soldiers, having worked for Project Rebirth—the experiment that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. He successfully recreates an imperfect serum but has a callous disregard for human life, believing that anyone not white is of an inferior race.
Nagel becomes a psychiatrist, with expertise in genetics and chemistry, and earns a doctorate that allows him to perform experiments in his field.
When fellow scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine dies, the United States Army tasks Nagel to recreate Erskine’s Super-Soldier Serum, dubbed Project Super-Soldier. Nagel uses Erskine’s codename, Dr. Josef Reinstein, to keep his identity secret.
With a doctorate, Nagel becomes a psychiatrist and is knowledgeable in chemistry, genetics, and surgery.
Nagel’s enemies are unknown but his victims are great in number. Anyone that ends up in Nagel’s lab suffers from his experiments, even those that survive them. That includes the 300 African-American soldiers that he performs his experiments on, and those that survive, Isaiah Bradley, AKA Captain America, Sgt. Lucas Evans, Larry Pitts, Maurice Canfield, Jack Harvey, Dave Plumb, and Damon Larsen.
Nagel allies with scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine on Project Rebirth and later the U.S. government to recreate Erskine’s Super-Soldier Serum.
An Horrific History
Psychiatrist and surgeon Dr. Wilfred Nagel posed as Dr. Josef Reinstein to help recreate the Super-Soldier Serum during World War II. To do so, he recruited 300 African-American soldiers to experiment upon at Camp Cathcart in Mississippi in 1942. There, he directed inhumane and mostly fatal clinical tests on them to perfect his formula. The project’s leaders then massacred the rest of Camp Cathcart’s soldiers, save seven men who survived the tests: Isaiah Bradley, Sgt. Lucas Evans, Larry Pitts, Maurice Canfield, Jack Harvey, Dave Plumb, and Damon Larsen. The project’s leaders also informed the test subjects’ families that their loved one’s had died, to help keep their project a secret.
When British intelligence reported the progress of Ernst Koch’s similar Nazi project, the seven men were shipped to Europe, despite Reinstein’s protests that the formula remained imperfect. Jack Harvey died en route, confirming Reinstein’s assertion. Canfield then went berserk after being taunted about his parents’ deaths while Pitts, Plumb, and Larsen died in a battle at Koch’s camp. Reinstein, using numbers to describe his test subjects, noted that some of them had highly exaggerated thyroid glands, but then blamed their ferocious behavior on their inherent native flaws.
He ultimately found success with an imperfect serum in the remaining soldier, Isaiah, who possessed heightened reflexes, strength, and durability. Isaiah stole a Captain America costume to halt Koch’s project but ultimately gets captured, and later freed but court-martialed in the U.S. and imprisoned for 17 years.
Overall, while Nagel could not mass produce a stable version of Erskine’s formula, his work proved successful with Isaiah and Colonel Walker Price, who stayed muscular, fit, and young well into his 90’s.