Captain America locks horns once more with his arch-nemesis!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

Jack Kirby legendarily shouldered all of the penciling responsibilities when it came to CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 back in 1941. That issue not only concisely introduced the world to Cap and Bucky, but also their number one villain, The Red Skull. In CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #3, writer Joe Simon and Kirby brought the soon-to-be stalwart villain back into our heroes’ lives. Just look at that maniacal look on the Skull’s face as seen on the cover as he tied Bucky to a bomb right next to the already-trapped Betty Ross whilst Captain America valiantly busts in to free his friends!

For a quick reminder, the first Red Skull seen in the Shield-Slinger’s inaugural issue turned out to be George Maxon. He used an injection drug to scare people to death, but ultimately rolled over on his own needle, seemingly overdosing in the process. However, as CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #3 kicked off, the man rose back up, claiming that he’d basically inoculated himself against his own drug. With that, the villain set about to gain revenge on the heroes and America itself! He got right to work by stealing plans for a U.S. made power drill and also exhibiting his new Touch of Death defense which killed anyone who came in contact with his person!

The Skull continued rolling right along with his nefarious plan as he had his minions spread word of his return, causing a wave of terror, followed immediately by an attack of the power drill that bored a hole right through a major city, killing thousands. Bucky and Cap leaped right into action, even grabbing on to the massive drill, but soon fell back when the bad guys turned their guns on our champions. Meanwhile, a carnival barker decided to capitalize on the patriotic pair’s fame and had a couple of goons dress up as them. The charlatan then charged a dime for people to come in and shake hands.

Captain America Comics (1941) #3

Captain America Comics (1941) #3

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Though the real deals broke up the racket, Red Skull didn’t hear about the con and broke in with his henchmen to kidnap his supposed enemies! Unfortunately for the fill-ins, the Skull hung them just before Captain America and Bucky could get there. However, they did succeed in blowing up the mad man’s power drill with a good, old-fashioned bomb!

Kirby also drew a fun mix of anti-Nazi and horror stories called “The Hunchback of Hollywood” and “The Movie Murder,” which found our heroes investigating threats to film designed with an anti-fascist message. This one not only featured Steve Rogers dressed up as a knight in the picture, but also Cap storming a castle by way of catapult! Other issue highlights include a prose story called “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” written by a kid named Stan Lee, another Cap and Bucky adventure called “The Queer Case of the Murdering Butterfly and the Ancient Mummies,” and a Reed Crandall-drawn Hurricane, Master of Speed tale that Simon and Kirby wrote!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

Read More

The sentient Cosmic Cube begins to understand her role in Secret Empire.

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

It all started with a Cosmic Cube who believed it was a person. That’s the basic truth behind the events of Secret Empire, though far from the full story.

Kobik’s origins reach back to her first mention in MARVEL NOW! POINT ONE #1, though readers didn’t get a full look at her until AVENGERS STANDOFF: WELCOME TO PLEASANT HILL #1. In that crossover, we learned that Maria Hill put a plan into place that would use parts of a Cosmic Cube to re-write villains’ memories so that they would fit in nice and happy in a small town dubbed Pleasant Hill. 

Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill (2016) #1

Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill (2016) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In AVENGERS STANDOFF ASSAULT ON PLEASANT HILL ALPHA #1, Kobik’s origins were revealed. Initially, S.H.I.E.L.D. intended to use pieces of a smashed Cube to make their jail a reality, but the chunks joined together to create a kid named Kobik. That, of course, didn’t stop Hill and company from using her to achieve their goal anyway.

The Cosmic Cube prison idea started making the rounds in public early on in CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON, though it took Rich Jones’ work as the super-hacker Whisperer to get the word out Pleasant Hill. Jones actions lead to heroes like Wilson, Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes and eventually the rest of the Avengers to make a move on the prison as Baron Zemo and other baddies started regaining their memories.

During the conflagration, the then-old Steve Rogers found himself returned to his more youthful status thanks to a run-in with Crossbones that lead to him needing some healing from Kobik.

What no one knew at that time was that Red Skull had been influencing Kobik from the beginning. Upon gaining sentience, she desired to meet someone who loved her and no one loved their old Cosmic Cube like the Skull. Through their interactions, the Hydra leader indoctrinated the young woman in his ways of hate, even teaching her completely false news-laced history.

Even worse, Skull essentially programmed Kobik to not just rejuvenate Steve Rogers, but implant a series of false memories that lead to his “Hail Hydra” shocker in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1 and everything that lead up through this week’s SECRET EMPIRE #9

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

After Standoff, Kobik spent time with Bucky Barnes in the Thunderbolts as well as some of the former villain pals she made in Pleasant Hill. She even went so far as to attempt to rewrite Bucky’s past to make him a Hydra agent, but he rebuked the very notion. When Bucky attempted to explain the reality of Hydra to Kobik, she flipped her wig and nearly destroyed everything in existence until Fixer blasted her, shattering her into the Cosmic Cube fragments.

The heroes have been looking for these pieces since Secret Empire began, but as we learned this week, Hydra attained all but one which lead to the souped-up version of Rogers seen at the end of the issue.

However, a glimmer of hope exists within Kobik herself. Another reveal in #9 came when Steve Rogers realized that he had been existing in a kind of ghost world inside her mind. Having regained much of himself, he seemed ready to jump back into the battle, assuming he could get his hands on a body, of course!

The Empire Strikes Back

If you’re wondering which of the many Cosmic Cubes used by Red Skull resulted in Kobik’s strange relationship with the madman, look no further than Mark Waid’s run on CAPTAIN AMERICA with Ron Garney which ran from CAPTAIN AMERICA #444448. Though presumed dead thanks to the Super Soldier Serum turning on him, Rogers soon woke up to the sight of the long-thought-dead Sharon Carter and the Red Skull. All three had to team up to save their own skins – reality itself – from a Hitler-infused Cosmic Cube. Upon succeeding in that task, the Skull gained control of the Cube itself and did some of his own historical re-writing, but Rogers broke free and used his shield to shatter the Cosmic Cube, slice off the Skull’s arm and blowing everything up. That seemed the end of that particular Cube until Red Skull revealed the true history in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #2

Captain America (1968) #444

Captain America (1968) #444

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Read More

The Star-Spangled Avenger teams with Bucky, Sgt. Fury, and the Howling Commandos to take on the Red Skull!

Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!

In reality, many brave men and women fought against the Axis powers during World War II. In addition to soldiers battling one another on the field and in the cities, normal people attempted to do whatever they could to help the Allies, even at the risk of their own safety.

CAPTAIN AMERICA 65TH ANNIVERSARY by Ed Brubaker, Javier Pulido, and Marcos Martin focuses on a pair of fictional freedom fighters in Eisendorf. Set in 1941, Cap plans to meet with a woman called Gretchen Zeller codenamed Blackbird and her father along with Bucky, Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos.

Before they can rendezvous, the Americans find themselves in the path of some Nazis who they make short work of. In the process, though, Bucky takes a hit and needs medical attention. Cap picks up his partner and literally runs him to Dr. Zeller.

Captain America 65th Anniversary (2006) #1

Captain America 65th Anniversary (2006) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The young woman conveys information to the Allies about Red Skull and his plans to dig something mysterious up from under Eisendorf. It turns out the Nazi villain discovered a 500-year-old deathbot created by a person dubbed the Baron of Iron who boasted advanced scientific abilities for the time.

Though Cap easily dismantles the tin-plated baddie, Red Skull does escape with the plans and the issue ends in the present day with the combined duo of General Lukin and Red Skull looking into the matter once again. In doing so, he reveals that the Baron looks an awful lot like Dr. Doom.

However, even with all of the Nazi giant robot action in the works, the real heart of this story lies in Bucky’s love for Gretchen which stems not only from her nursing him back to health, but also her bravery in the face of seemingly insurmountable evil. The two even share a kiss at the end of the story, but never meet again thanks to Bucky’s various missions and his ultimate span in suspended animation.

Cap Declassified

Though seemingly a simple flashback, the anniversary one-shot actually marks an important part of Brubaker’s “Red Menace” story which ran from CAPTAIN AMERICA #15 to #21. In issue #17, Steve and Sharon Carter track down Gretchen Zeller’s daughter in a cabin that Bucky visited. Not long after, Cap and Bucky team up for the first time since the latter’s memories returned, to fight Red Skull’s updated version of Doom’s killer robot in England. Later in #23, Skull meets with Doom and reveals a mysterious deal. In exchange for letting the leader of Latveria know about the Baron, Skull receives something from Doom that turns out to be the device used to trap Captain America in time during his apparent death. Doom posits that the Baron stage of his life will come at a future time.

Next time, the focus ships to Cap’s hard luck partner Jack Monroe, aka Nomad!

Read More

When Steve Rogers quits to forge his own identity, John Walker takes over as the new Star-Spangled Avenger!

Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!

In the classic “Secret Empire” storyline, Captain America becomes disillusioned with his government after realizing that an elected official also served as head of the villainous organization of the same name. What made him leave his post in the pages of Mark Gruenwald, Kieron Dwyer, and Tom Morgan’s epic “The Captain” story from CAPTAIN AMERICA #332350? A presidentially-appointed group called the Commission.

In a meeting with said group, they inform Steve that the uniform he wears and shield he carries actually belong to the United States government and that he basically needs to serve their interests in order to continue sporting both. By the end of the issue, he turns them in with a letter that states, “My commitment to the ideals of this country is greater than my commitment to a 40-year old document,” referring to some paperwork signed back when he applied for Operation: Rebirth.

In the wake of this epic decision, the Commission hires John “Super-Patriot” Walker to take on the Captain America identity and Steve Rogers eventually becomes the black-clad Captain, armed with a vibranium shield designed by Black Panther.

Even with scientifically granted super powers, training overseen by Taskmaster, and his pal Lemar taking on the role and costume of Battle Star, Walker eventually succumbs to the pressures of the job which lead him into direct confrontation with the Watchdogs, a racist group that murders his parents. Rogers meanwhile runs afoul of various members of the Serpent Society, the mutant Famine, and even Iron Man during his own time of great conflict in the Armor Wars saga. The long-running story also features Falcon, D-Man, Nomad, Diamondback, and Flag-Smasher.

Captain America (1968) #332

Captain America (1968) #332

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Ultimately, though, several key elements come to light. First, the Commission realizes that Walker’s instability makes him a very poor choice to fill the role of Captain America. Second, a nefarious outside force infiltrates the Commission. And, third, that force turns out to be the Red Skull in a body cloned from Steve Rogers’ DNA!

As the American businessman John Smith, Skull plans on bringing the United States down from the inside. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t plan on accidentally dosing himself with the Dust of Death, a toxin of his own devising that turns the victim’s head into a red skull.

While the Red Skull’s plans ultimately fail, things work out well for Steve Rogers who soon returns to his iconic red, white and blue duds. And the best part? Seeing the huge smile on his face when he looks in the mirror at the end of the story!

If you want to find out more about how Arnim Zola transferred the Red Skull’s consciousness into a clone of Rogers, read the back-up drawn by John Byrne for all that plus a recap of the villain’s long history up to that point.

Cap Declassified

Though relatively short-lived, John Walker’s role as Captain America lead to a longer-lasting one as U.S. Agent. Essentially taking over The Captain’s costume and vibranium shield, the newly minted hero still worked for the Commission, but also served on West Coast Avengers, Force Works, S.T.A.R.S., the New Invaders, Omega Flight and even the Mighty Avengers. During the Siege event, Walker faces another former politically themed super-solder in Nuke. The one-time Captain America fairs poorly and winds up in a wheelchair, missing a few limbs. He then becomes the warden of The Raft during Luke Cage’s tenure leading Thunderbolts and regains his limbs in an alternate universe thanks to the Dark Avenger known as June Covington. Walker might be keeping his head down now, but don’t expect him to do so for long.

Next, Bucky Barnes fights an enemy from his past with the Young Allies in CAPTAIN AMERICA: FOREVER ALLIES by Roger Stern, Nick Dragotta and Marco Santucci.

Read More

The artist steering Steve Rogers' destiny shares exclusive art and commentary!

Even in the Marvel Universe, where “anything can happen” comes across as an understatement, you like to believe you can count on certain things. Hulks will always smash, neighborhood Spider-Men will always be friendly and Steve Rogers, aka the original Captain America, will always be the standard bearer of all things just, right?

Not so much.

The final page of CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1 by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz pulled the rug out from under a populace excited to see the First Avenger back in action on the side of angels. The surprises keep on coming in issue #2 on June 29, so before things got too crazy, we roped in Saiz for some insight from the artistic perspective.

Marvel.com: How do you balance the recognizable appearance of Steve Rogers as Captain America with his updated look and very new attitude?

Jesus Saiz: Well, although the suit and shield are different, they’re still very recognizable, especially because Steve’s silhouette and body postures are still absolutely heroic, very iconic, like a Greek god’s. The difference is that, in certain scenes, we discover that new attitude, a lot fiercer and savage, something dark that we hadn’t seen in him before. It’s not that his look as changed as much as us seeing him things that we’d never expect from Captain America.

Marvel.com: A couple issues in, what aspects of the costume are you really enjoying?

Jesus Saiz: [Daniel] Acuña’s design is really interesting. What I like the most is what I just mentioned, that it’s a design perfectly identifiable as Captain America’s, heroic, iconic, but also that, depending on how you treat lighting on each scene, it suddenly can look aggressive and threatening. 

Marvel.com: When Steve’s out of mask, how do you make sure people know exactly who he is?

Jesus Saiz: Easy. He’s the strong and handsome blue-eyed hunk with blond hair. [Laughs]


Marvel.com: What guest stars are you looking forward to drawing during Civil War II?

Jesus Saiz: Honestly, I’ve arrived to the Marvel Universe a very short time ago, so I’m anxious to draw as many guest stars as possible. They’re all going to be “new” to me, and it’ll make me really happy to be able to tackle them on the page. The more, the merrier!

Marvel.com: What villains are upcoming in the book?

Jesus Saiz: You are going to have to wait and see! What I can tell you, though, is that I love love love drawing the Red Skull. I would work on a book in which Red Skull is the only character!

Marvel.com: What’s it like collaborating with Nick Spencer?

Jesus Saiz: It’s an absolute pleasure. Sometimes it’s hard, because his scripts are very choral. There’s a lot of characters and settings, even a lot of different eras, but he doesn’t stop surprising me. It’s not often that I’m eager and anxious awaiting the next script, to know what’s going to happen next, but with Nick, waiting to get the next script is way too hard!

But, all in all, what I enjoy the most are the intimate, personal scenes. He has an amazing quality, that Nick, to humanize the characters. He makes you feel they’re real people, and I love working in their world.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #2 from Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz continues to shake things up on June 29!

Read More

The war on drugs nearly claims Steve Rogers as a casualty!

Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!

No stranger to war, Captain America finds himself caught in an all new one in the “Streets of Poison” story from 1990. While out on patrol, Cap stumbles upon a new drug called Ice whose dealers have no problem killing innocents to protect their business. Upon returning to Avengers Headquarters he discovers that mechanic Fabian used the substance and currently suffers from the after effects.

In the seven-part tale that ran in CAPTAIN AMERICA #372378 by Mark Gruenwald and Ron Lim, Cap struggles with something that Fabian mentions early on in the first issue: “Don’t you owe your very powers…to a drug?”

Driven to stop the spread of Ice on the streets, the Star-Spangled Avenger launches his own war on drugs that leads him to a warehouse stocked with the product and a pusher willing to blow the whole place up to stop its unauthorized removal. Steve survives the explosion, but soon starts acting erratically. Diamondback sees this and posits that it might be because the drug entered his system and possibly latched on to the Super-Soldier Serum.

Captain America (1968) #372

Captain America (1968) #372

  • Published: July 10, 1990
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: July 29, 2013
  • Cover Artist: Ron Lim
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Unhappy with the interference in the drug trade, Kingpin hires Bullseye to look into it. The assassin clashes with Cap who later throws down with Daredevil while in the drug’s thrall. After taking a beating from the Super Soldier, the Man Without Fear then faces off against Crossbones who’s still working for Red Skull.

While Black Widow, Diamondback, and John Jameson try to put a stop to a rampaging Cap, Bullseye crashes in on Red Skull and Crossbones, seemingly killing the Nazi, but it turns out to be a robot. Those two go on to fight at Yankee Stadium while Hank Pym figures he can get the Ice out of Steve’s system by cycling out his blood, but the Super-Soldier Serum goes with it.

No longer super-powered, Cap needs to prove that he makes the hero, not the drug known as the Super-Soldier Serum. He successfully defeats Crossbones while Kingpin and the Red Skull battle each other. “I’ve proven it! I can be Captain America without the drug!” Cap thinks to himself standing over ‘Bones. 

Cap Declassified

While detoxing from Ice, Cap dreams that Red Skull attacks him, claiming that anyone given the Super-Soldier Serum would have become a hero and that he’s nothing special. Steve responds that many people have been given variants on the serum and no one’s become the hero he has. He’s not kidding. Professor Erskine’s substance helped change Isaiah Bradley and Patriot while attempts at recreating it led to the creation of Master Man by the Nazis and U.S. Agent among others.

The team that saved Steve Rogers’ life in more than one way comes under fire from within in the “Avengers Disassembled” story in AVENGERS #500-503 and AVENGERS FINALE.

Read More

Bucky, Sharon Carter, and the Avengers all team-up to save Steve Rogers from the Red Skull!

Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!

In the wake of Steve Rogers’ shocking death on the courthouse steps, Bucky Barnes took over for his comrade and proved himself worthy, but that didn’t stop anyone from wondering when the real deal would find his way back to the land of the living.

The event finally took place in CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN, a six-issue limited series by Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch, and Butch Guice that launched in 2009. Leading up to this series, Red Skull and Arnim Zola attempt to use Sharon Carter as a constant to retrieve Steve from a specific point in time where they had hidden him post-assassination attempt. Instead she broke free and destroyed the machine which inadvertently sent Rogers tumbling through his own past.

While the Agent of Liberty felt tortured by constantly reliving every mistake he ever made, Sharon, Falcon, Bucky, Black Widow, and the Avengers attempted to figure out what was really going on while Skull and Zola made a deal with Doctor Doom to recreate the time machine and snatch Cap back from the time stream.

As in past encounters after gaining the upper hand, the Red Skull refused to simply kill his longtime foe, but instead planned a much dastardlier series of actions. First, he intended to have his recently displaced consciousness inserted into Steve Rogers’ retrieved body. And second, he agreed to serve in Norman Osborn’s Avengers as a way to tarnish the man’s good reputation.

Captain America: Reborn (2009) #1

Captain America: Reborn (2009) #1

  • Published: July 01, 2009
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: February 23, 2009
  • Writer: Ed Brubaker
  • Penciller: Bryan Hitch
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The first part of the scheme actually comes to pass, but not before our heroes showed up to put a stop to it. Bucky faced off against the Skull in Steve’s body, but soon enough Rogers regained control and boots the villain out of his head only to have him re-inhabit the robot form he had been using.

Thanks to Sharon using one of Hank Pym’s devices, the robo-Skull grew huge, but the revived Captain America and Avengers pooled their efforts to bring the baddie down. With the Skull seemingly dead and the badly burned Sin incarcerated, the day seemed like a clear victory to Cap and company, but we all know that never lasts for long, especially after he relives a post-apocalyptic vision of the future.

Even with the original’s return, Bucky continued on as Captain America for a while with Steve taking on a S.H.I.E.L.D.-inspired battle suit and leading the Secret Avengers for a time. 

Cap Declassified

The apocalyptic vision Steve remembers at the end of CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN #6 features large alien creatures and the apparent deaths of Bucky in his Winter Soldier gear, Luke Cage, Thor, Black Widow, and Spider-Man. A shadowy figure can also be seen raising a hammer-like object. Some posited that this is Sin from the Fear Itself event while others wonder if it looked ahead to the AGE OF ULTRON series.

Captain America asks his teammates to help him find out if Bucky really died back in WWII in AVENGERS #56 and AVENGERS ANNUAL #2.

Read More

Learn about the beginnings of Cap's archenemy!

Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!

Earlier this week, RED SKULL: INCARNATE took center stage as it chronicled the early days of Johann Schmidt, the man who would become Captain America’s greatest foe. Today, take a look at Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s initial take on Schmidt’s ascension to Nazi royalty as originally seen in TALES OF SUSPENSE #66-68 from 1965.

The World War II-set story kicks off with Cap tied to a chair in the clutches of the Red Skull. Instead of simply finishing off his longtime foe, the villain takes the time to fill the Star-Spangled Superstar in on his personal history.

“Lots of people had tough lives,” Cap says. “My early years were no bed of roses either! But I don’t waste time telling sob stories!” Skull responds by knocking the hero and his chair down before continuing to explain how he first met Adolf Hitler as a hotel bellboy. During that invitation, Hitler saw the young man’s hate-filled eyes and immediately commands him to become a “perfect Nazi” under the tutelage of his soldiers.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #66

Tales of Suspense (1959) #66

  • Published: June 10, 1965
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Unimpressed with the outside training, Hitler decides to take over himself and turn Schmidt into a symbol complete with swastika-emblazoned jumpsuit, crimson mask and chill-inducing new name. Soon enough, it becomes clear that Skull recounting this information fits into a plan that allows a chemical brainwashing agent to take over Captain America’s mind!

The next two issues feature Skull presenting the mind-controlled Cap to Hitler, Bucky escaping from his own imprisonment, and an assassination attempt on a high-ranking Allied general at the hands of Captain America! The hero then reveals that he played along with the plan before heading off to stop yet another attack by the Red Skull’s minions.

Many of these TALES OF SUSPENSE issues did a great job of filling in Captain America’s WWII adventures, which many of the then-young readers missed the first time around. Seeing Kirby’s evolution since those early days combined with the whimsical and grandiose nature of Lee’s stories makes for a great history lesson.

Cap Declassified

For years, the true face of the Red Skull remained a mystery to the readers. You’ll notice during the Kirby-drawn flashbacks in these issues that you never actually see Johann Schmidt unmasked. We’re always looking at him from behind or obscured in some other way. The very first time anyone saw the face under the mask came decades later in CAPTAIN AMERICA #297 from 1985 when the aged man lifts his covering to reveal the withered visage underneath. He died not long after that, but soon returned in a body cloned from Steve Rogers!

Next time find out what Roy Thomas, Don Glut and George Tuska think would happen if Cap stayed unfrozen in WHAT IF? #5.

Read More

The focus flips to the Star-Spangled Avenger's greatest enemy!

Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!

Some think that evil people start that way at birth while others posit that they turn bad as life goes on. Greg Pak and Mirko Colak might not answer that question firmly in the 2010 five issue limited series RED SKULL: INCARNATE, but they sure get into it.

Captain America’s greatest foe never actually wears the iconic crimson mask in this series, but the reader sees some of the events that lead young Johann Schmidt to rise from orphan to Hitler’s symbol of the Nazi might in Germany.

Johann’s story began in tragedy as his mother died during childbirth and his father attempted to drown the baby. The doctor stopped him only for the dad to end his own life not long after, sending the child into the local orphanage in the process.

As a young man growing up on the streets of a Germany utterly torn apart in the wake of World War I, the already hardened Schmidt becomes almost diamond-like as he fights for his own pride instead of sticking with friends or people who helped him.

Red Skull (2010) #1

Red Skull (2010) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Pak avoids the cliché of making young Johann an obviously sympathetic character swept up in madness, but instead an opportunist who looks out mostly for himself. Given a different set of circumstances, Schmidt might have actually been happy with the Jewish father and daughter who took him in early in the series, but Germany in the 20’s featured political groups going to war in the streets, gangs of criminal children, and Hitler amassing power.

Colak equally excels at presenting Johann as a young man whose anger and self-preservation hide just below the surface until he goes red with rage. As the series rolls on, the protagonist intends to aim the weapon he’s become at Hitler, but instead follows his lust for violence and opportunity by allying with one of history’s greatest monsters in an effort to become one himself.

At the end of the day, the words of the Jewish shopkeeper who helped Johann seem to ring the most true: “Who gets ahead? In this world, as it is now? Whoever’s the strongest. Doesn’t matter if he’s right. He gets to make the rules. Keep the weak right where they are.” That part might have appealed most to Schmidt, but the man also noted that it would not always be that way, unknowingly foreshadowing the upcoming arrival of Captain America as a force of good, ready to fight for the rights of all people.

Cap Declassified

If you’re a fan of the Golden Age battles between Cap and the Red Skull you might remember that George Maxon revealed himself as the man under the distinct mask. This version sticks up banks to raise money to overthrow the American government. By CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #7, which debuted in 1941, the true Skull reveals himself and explains that Maxon acted as but a pawn.

Next, see how Bucky Barnes does in his first outing as the Sentinel of Liberty in CAPTAIN AMERICA #34-36 by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and Butch Guice.

Read More

As his life dwindles away, Cap's greatest enemy plots to take his nemesis with him!

Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75 anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!

They say you can judge a true hero by the enemies he keeps and how he responds to them. For Captain America, no one strives to destroy him more regularly than the Red Skull. Even being frozen in the ice towards the end of WWII could not save the hero from his arch foe who utilized a form of suspended animation to survive into the modern day.

However, even the longest wars must come to an end—at least temporarily. Written by J.M. DeMatteis with assists by Bill Mantlo, Michael Ellis and Mike Carlin, with art from Paul Neary, Herb Trimpe and Ron Frenz, “Death of the Red Skull” attempts to do exactly that. 

Understanding that his time on the mortal plane nears its end, Red Skull decides to enact a plan to bring Steve Rogers to the other side with him. To do so, he enlists the strange powers of his unnaturally aged daughter, Mother Superior, her Sisters of Sin, and the second Baron Zemo.

Captain America (1968) #300

Captain America (1968) #300

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Skull and his minions transform pacifist Dave Cox into the Slayer, brainwash Jack “Nomad” Monroe into aging his mentor, Captain America, and endangers Cap’s girlfriend Bernie, childhood friend Arnie Roth, and the Falcon by bringing them all to Skull-House.

Even with his friends’ lives on the line and his actual age catching up to him, Captain America sits silently as the Skull recounts his own origin. That leads to a knock-down, drag-out fight between two old men after Skull makes it look like Cap has lost his allies. Even with seemingly everything he cares about gone, Captain America refuses to kill the defenseless Red Skull even after the villain tearfully implores him to do just that before dying.

Left a withering husk, Steve survives thanks to the mysterious Black Crow’s supernatural abilities and the science employed by the Avengers. Rejuvenated Steve looks forward to marrying Bernie and living with a clean conscience after sticking by his morals in a fight that could have been his last.

Cap Declassified

The Red Skull’s daughter Mother Superior first appears in CAPTAIN AMERICA #290. Though she tormented our hero until becoming de-aged at the end of the story, her days of villainy continued long after. Captured and reprogrammed by S.H.I.E.L.D. under the new name of Erica Holstein, she lived a normal life until Crossbones broke her out and tortured her until she remembered her true identity. Before long she became romantically involved with Crossbones and serving her father, who shared a body with General Lukin, for a while during Ed Brubaker’s run.

Next up learn the secret history of the Super Soldier Project in TRUTH: RED, WHITE AND BLACK by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker.

Read More