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Beginner's Guide: The Mantle of Captain America

There's been more than one man who has bared the Cap mantle

Captain America has been a symbol for the fighting American spirit since its inception in 1941 by Timely Comics, later to become Atlas. Captain America became the hero in dark days as the Allies battled the Axis in World War II. Seventy years later, Captain America is still a symbol for America and a hero in dark times, and even though the costume is still relatively the same, the hero behind the mask isn't.  In fact, many people have worn the mantle of Captain America. However, there's so many to choose from, so we'll take a look at the most important people to wear the red, white, and blue costume and wield that indestructible shield.

 Steve Rogers
 == TEASER == 
In the 616-Universe (the Marvel Universe where the vast majority of stories take place),  puny little Steve Rogers signed up for the Army after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and joined a secret military experiment to enhance his physique to make him the perfect super-soldier. However, the serum, developed by Dr Abraham Erskine, was lost when Erskine was assassinated by a Nazi. Steve Rogers donned the name "Captain America" as a symbol of freedom and American willpower in order to fight the Nazis. Towards the end of the war, Captain America and his sidekick Bucky were off stopping another devious plot from Baron Zemo, and Captain America was thrown into the Atlantic ocean, and Bucky was caught in a blast and believed to be dead. Captain America would remain out of comic books until 1964, when the Avengers found Steve Rogers frozen in a block of ice. After being thawed out, assuming that the super-soldier serum somehow didn't affect the crystallization of his cells, Steve Rogers came back to life and joined the team in issue number four.

Chronologically speaking, Steve Rogers, the Captain America most people are familiar with, was the first man to don the
Isaiah Bradley
costume; however, Isaiah Bradley was the second man to put on the costume, right after the first super-soldier experiment was a success. Much like the story of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment in Alabama during the late 30s, Isaiah Bradley was forced in a military super-soldier program called Project: Rebirth. However, instead of being unknowingly injected with syphilis so scientists could see the effects, Bradley was injected with the Super-Soldier serum, so scientists could see the effects. This story was collected in the mini-series Truth, written by Kyle Baker. Isaiah Bradley gained all the "powers" that Captain America once had: his body was at peak human performance, he is immune to most diseases, and he will live longer because his body isn't affected by age as much as most people. Isaiah has a son named Josiah X, who is also a super-hero and he has a grandson Patriot, a member of the Young Avengers, who didn't get his powers from his grandfather, until he needed a blood injection from him. 
 
After World War II ended, another man named Jeffery Mace AKA the Patriot (Golden Age, not Isaiah Bradley's grandson). He took the mantle from William Naslund, but died shortly later. Jeffery Mace was a known hero under the mantle of Patriot leading the Liberty Legion. Mace wore the Captain America costume until he retired from crime fighting in 1949. Jefferey Mace died in Captain America issue #285 as an old man in a hospital. Currently, you can catch some old adventures of The Patriot in his mini-series by the same name.
 Jeffery Mace

 Roscoe
Steve Rogers eventually returned to the role, but found himself quitting the job time and time again. One key person who took over was Roscoe. Roscoe? Yes, Roscoe. Steve left the Captain America mantle behind to become Nomad. Men had taken the Captain America mantle previous, and briefly, to Roscoe, but ended up failing miserably. Roscoe also failed miserably. 
 
What makes this man so special is that he died wearing the suit and he helped reestablish Red Skull as a villain who will take any means necessary to get what he wants. During Roscoe's final mission, he was confronted by the Red Skull for the first time, and when Red Skull realized Roscoe was not the true Captain America, he tortured, killed, and crucified Roscoe. He left a note saying that all Captain America impostors would also die this way.

There's been only one Captain America who had actual super-powers (Bucky doesn't count, since it all comes from his robotic arm). That man's name is U.S. Agent. Once a wrestler in the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation, John Walker, a man with super-strength on par with Spider-Man, took to the streets fighting crime as Super-Patriot, and when Steve Rogers abandoned the role of Captain America again, Valerie Cooper gave the job to John. He took the job, and received training from Taskmaster, but he didn't have the same moral compass that Steve possessed. John's parents were murdered while he wore the costume, and it snapped Walker. Walker, as Captain America, began murdering people and it tarnished the reputation Steve Rogers spent for years building. Rogers came back, fought Walker, and retook the mantle, leaving Walker to take the mantle U.S. Agent.
 Walker and his parents

 Bucky as Cap
That brings us to the current Captain America, James "Bucky" Barnes. Like John Walker in many ways, Bucky, Steve's original sidekick who was believed dead for years, only to turn up later as a Russian assassin, took the mantle of Captain America after Steve Rogers was killed. 
 
Bucky had a robotic arm that gave him super-strength (after losing the arm in World War II), and this Captain America had no problem using guns. James tried his best to live up to Steve's version of the Cap, but his Winter Soldier past caught up with him and now he's currently on trial for his crimes. 
 
The great part about this mantle is that Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, is alive and well, yet Bucky still carries the torch. 
 
Now it's time for the crazy award. Each man who has taken over the mantle of Captain America has a few pros and cons. This man has a whole glass of crazy everyone morning before breakfast. He's the fourth man to take over as Captain America, William Burnside AKA "Steven Rogers" AKA Grand Director. He was a Captain America fanatic and after learning of his death, he became fully obsessed. After writing his thesis paper on Cap, he went to Germany and discovered some of the original Super-Soldier formulas. He legally changed his name to "Steven Rogers" and the US Government made gave him the costume to pursue his "passion." 
 "Steven Rogers" AKA Grand Director
It gets weirder from there. In attempts to become the perfect Captain America, "Steven" had plastic surgery and even had his voice changed to be exactly like the real Steve Rogers. At one point, "Steven" began attacking people he thought were communist. He was eventually brought into custody of Doctor Faustus, renamed Grand Director (after a little bit of brainwashing), fought Captain America and Daredevil, then killed himself. But wait, there's more. He popped up more recently, after the real Steve Rogers death, believing he was the true Steve Rogers. He was eventually ousted and became one of Bucky's villains after trying to blow up the Hoover Dam.
 
Technically, it's one of Marvel Comics first super-heroes, and it's survived since it's inception in 1941. It's a costume we're sure to see passed onto another person in the future. Who's your favorite person to put on the Captain America costume? Who's you're least favorite?
 
~Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring is a comedian, comic store employee, teacher and writer.
Follow him on twitter @ inferiorego
30 Comments
Posted by Om1kron

Captain America is RAD! 

Posted by Mercy_
@inferiorego: Holy heck, Mat. Awesome article. 
Moderator
Posted by Jacory44Williams

good stuff
Posted by inferiorego
@The Dark Huntress said:
" @inferiorego: Holy heck, Mat. Awesome article.  "
thanks! this is what happens when i get snowed in at home! long articles
Staff
Posted by Mercy_
@inferiorego said:
" @The Dark Huntress said:
" @inferiorego: Holy heck, Mat. Awesome article.  "
thanks! this is what happens when i get snowed in at home! long articles "
<--Feels your pain. Only I write RPG posts and wiki edit. :P
Moderator
Edited by Crackdown

I know Clinton was the "first" captain America, since he took the SSS formula first, before Rogers. Yeah he went a bit crazy at first and was put into suspended animation, but when he was awoke, he kicked Cap's butt. But despite calling himself "Captain America" in a few panels, I don't see him up there. Clinton being Protocide

Posted by cattlebattle

AAAH, Yes. Roscoe. The "Jason Todd" of the Captain Americas
Posted by inferiorego
@Crackdown said:
" I know Clinton was the "first" captain America, since he took the SSS formula first, before Rogers. Yeah he went a bit crazy at first and was put into suspended animation, but when he was awoke, he kicked Cap's butt. But despite calling himself "Captain America" in a few panels, I don't see him up there. Clinton being Protocide "
There's about six people that got passed up in this article, protocide being one of them
Staff
Posted by turoksonofstone
@inferiorego: 
No mention of Simon & Kirby Cap's co-creators?
Posted by Decept-O

 A 3-Minute Expert Video on Captain America--without the video!  Nice info to help anyone wanting some 4-1-1 on ol' Winghead!
Posted by daak1212

Forgot Punisher as well...and Clint  Even though they were like for 1 to 2 issues.
Posted by CPTNAMRCA

Steve Rogers is still the best

Posted by Silkcuts
@CPTNAMRCA said:

" Steve Rogers is still the best "

He is the only one that matters.
Although I think Isaiah Bradley is pretty cool, but I like Kyle Baker, so I am bias...lol
Edited by MTHarman
@inferiorego:
Funny how Marvels first characters weren't seen as superheroes, but men of monsterous-like mysteries, then a simple idea to help advertise America's fight within the War. 
We get Captain America......who was a die-hard badass back then until the war came to an end. 
 
1950's revival was an accident that came as a horrible mistake (this Cap was later defined as the Grand Director) 
 
and it would be later within the 60's where Stan Lee successfully brought back the golden age hero with his new Avengers storyline and the original Cap was rightfully brought back. 
 
....nice beginners guide by the way. Wish I had the proper grammer skills to help shine some characters into the spotlight, but at least I could use my sense of psychology to help define and give more insight.
should do one about the Red Skull, Bucky, or better yet, HYDRA.
Posted by mrmisanthrope

Buckycap is garbage, and the sooner it's done and put behind us the better. Steve Rogers is the only real Captain America, all others are pretenders.

Posted by SuperXAsh

While I like Rogers, I also liked Walker, sure he was a flawed Cap, but he had his moments. Also doesn't help that people were actively TRYING to drive him nuts.

Posted by theicon

rogers  eternally cap

Posted by masterofdarkness

awesome
Posted by TheMess1428

Do all the Batmans next. Or Robin.

Posted by Eyz

I've always liked the "US Soldier"! :P
Funy how they started using him a lot in the EXTREME!! 90s in comics, games..

Posted by speedlgt

IMO there are only 2 men to really be captain america and that Steve and Bucky everyone else is a knock off  
 
Like just about everyother TRUE fan I feel only steve is cap no one else however there is something to be said when the mentor chooses the next one to carry the mantle like the way steve fully approves of bucky being cap the same way that bruce approves dick. that in and of itself proves who the real barriers of the mantle are. 
 
eveyone else is BS
Posted by Crackdown

I wouldn't say Isaiah Bradley is a knockoff

Posted by mightiness

I still hate the Isaiah Bradley retcon. It literally drives me nuts when Marvel does this it to me waters down the mythos created. I generally not a fan of retcons in general but have recently enjoy Marvel Project and the Winter Solider retcon. 
 
John Walker is my favorite substitute Cap. I can't believe Marvel can't think of anything better to do with him than just have him as a cripple running the Raft. 
 
I would love to seen William Burnside resume his Grand Director role. His character is nuts and is a great Cap villain.

Posted by TDK_1997

I like the most Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

Captian America, he needs to go to Iraq. 
That would be Awesome!
Posted by Kid_Zombie

great stuff!
 
Steve rogers will always be the best, But I LOVE bucky being Captain America. Hope he stays that way for long time to come!

Edited by sweatboy

Thanks for this blog. I once ran into a pic of 6 old caps in different costumes. I've always liked US Agent. He's named after whiskeys, and you could say he's the Venom to Steve Roger's Spider Man. Or even a Batman to Steve Roger's Superman? Except he doesn't just do what needa to be done at all costs, he goes berserk, (like Venom)

Posted by inferiorego

@sweatboy said:

Thanks for this blog. I once ran into a pic of 6 old caps in different costumes. I've always liked US Agent. He's named after whiskeys, and you could say he's the Venom to Steve Roger's Spider Man. Or even a Batman to Steve Roger's Superman? Except he doesn't just do what needa to be done at all costs, he goes berserk, (like Venom)

I completely forgot about this feature. Thanks for reading!

Staff
Edited by sweatboy

@inferiorego: feature? Of course I would read it lol. You're my favourite write r :D even though I came to it looking for Cap stuff on Google

Posted by HumanRocket

Steve Rodgers will always and forever be the true and only Captain America. But a close second would be Bucky. For everything he went through as he Winter Soldier for him to dawn the Stars and Stripes and to constantly live up to his best friends image is something I always liked seeing when bucky took the mantle. We always saw Cap as the Boy Scout of the marvel universe so to have bucky take the mantle and have someone to prove himself and right the wrongs of his past was a nice element to add to the legacy that his Captain America