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Off My Mind: Could Captain America Lose the Super Soldier Serum?

He's a hero at heart but what would he do if the serum granting him his youth wore off?

Captain America is a super soldier in many ways. Dedicated to serve his country, he was willing to do whatever it took after failing a simple Army physical. It was his spirit and belief in America that made him the perfect candidate for Project Rebirth. Steve Rogers was the first and only candidate to take part in the experimental procedure.

Because Dr. Erskine was killed right after Steve was transformed, he never had the chance to get a full examination. It's likely that he did undergo several tests and examinations by others but because Erskine was the only one that knew the formula, he's the only one that would truly know how the transformation could affect Rogers.

Captain America spent several decades in a cryogenic state. It's believed that the Super Soldier Serum could be part of what allowed him to easily be revived from his frozen state. Because the full effects were never really considered, what would happen if the Serum suddenly wore off. What effects would it have on Captain America's body and his mission to serve his country?

== TEASER ==

The question of whether or not it's the serum that makes him Captain America has been brought up before. His body was enhanced to perfection but it's more than just the serum that elevated him to the hero he is today. There have even been moments when it appeared Cap was losing the abilities given to him by the serum.

Back in CAPTAIN AMERICA #300, Cap faced the Red Skull in a hidden bunker. This was the be the Skull's final battle because he was dying. The effects from being in suspended animation on the Red Skull were wearing off and he was dying. His final act was meant to be the end of Captain America by his hands. He poisoned Cap, who found himself an old man but that didn't stop him. There was still enough spirit in him to fight the Red Skull.

There was also a time when Steve's body began to lock up (CAPTAIN AMERICA #438). Cap apparently had pushed the Super Soldier Serum past its limits. His body crashed and he was left paralyzed until Tony Stark implanted bio-chips into his neural system. He needed an exoskeleton suit in order to move.

He was now on borrowed time as his body would soon completely shut down which would lead to his death. Cap continued to do his duty and fight against evil. He knew continuing to fight would mean the end of his life but he couldn't simply sit back and do nothing.

To save him, the Super Soldier Serum was flushed from his system despite the serum being bonded with his blood. It turned out that Cap had received a blood transfusion from the Red Skull, whose mind was in a cloned body of Steve Rogers. It was later written that the serum had actually changed Cap's genetic make up. This explained how the cloned body the Red Skull used also had the affects of the Super Soldier Serum. Now we're faced with the question, can the serum actually wear off if it's already changed his genetics?

If Cap's DNA has been altered, this is who he is now. It shouldn't be possible for him to revert back to a normal state. The possibility of his age catching up with him also shouldn't be an issue since he was in a state of suspended animation for decades. Despite this idea, we're seeing Cap somehow temporarily revert back and losing his enhanced physique.

While he has mentioned he never wanted to be a leader or symbol, it's become such a large part of who he is. Even when he decided Bucky had to remain in the role of Captain America after Steve returned from the 'dead,' he became "Commander" Rogers and was leading what used to be the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization.

If Cap lost his Super Soldier Serum abilities, there's no way he would simply retire and try to live a normal life. Provided his body didn't suffer any incapacitating affects, Steve would have no choice but to continue serving and fighting off any evil forces that threatened the country. As long as he didn't lose his mental facilities, he could still serve as a commander or strategist. Cap will serve until the day he dies.

Another aspect of the Super Soldier Serum which hasn't really been touched on, besides in EARTH X, is how his body ages. He doesn't show signs of his true age due to being in suspended animation. If the serum made him essentially the perfect human specimen, what does that mean for the way it ages?

If his body is capable of doing extraordinary feats, perhaps it also handles aging in a different manner. People age as their cells break down. It's possible his body, being near perfect, is able to fight the effects of aging. He wouldn't necessarily be immortal but longevity could easily be possible. This would allow him to continue fighting longer than people would expect.

Captain America might not have the time for it but it would be in his best interest to get some of the smartest people around to finally figure out what is going on with his body. The fact that he recently found his body inexplicably altered suggests there is a lot they don't know. With friends like Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Hank McCoy, Reed Richards, etc, it would be possible for them to discover how the Super Soldier Serum works and any long term positive or negative affects. Cap can't take the risk of his body suddenly shutting down at any random moment. If it was possible he could lose his abilities in five years, a decade or whatever, that's something else he should make plans for. For the sake of the mantle of Captain America, the secrets to the Super Soldier Serum need to be unlocked so the heroes will know how long Captain America will be in the game.

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Posted by goldenkey

He lost it in Super Soldier, right after his return from the dead. He was the skinny little Steve Rodgers right before he took the serum. He's still commanding S.H.E.I.L.D. He doesn't need to go into the field to do that.

Posted by saoakden

That is a good point. Wan't Steve Rogers: Super Soldier mini series about the guy's grandkid selling the formula or something or am I mistaken?

Posted by Dernman

I get the feeling they are going to do something stupid like change his power in away that they are reliant on his patriotism and belief in America.

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Posted by Soldier zero

Stripping the Serum out of Cap has been done at least 3 times over the years, but the results were very different.

At the end of Streets of Poison (Captain America Vol.2 372-378), Hank Pym was forced to strip the Serum out of Cap, through a total blood transfusion, since another drug has entered Cap's system and was making him crazy. Cap remained big and buff, but lost something in terms of efficiency forcing him to fight a little more dirty than usual against Crossbones. (the blood was later pumped back into Cap, but a couple of pints went into his then-girlfriend Diamondback)

On the other hand, in more recent stories Cap got stripped of the Serum and returned to be the small and frail Steve Rogers.

Personally I prefer the first interpretation given by Mark Gruenwald, the Serum gave Steve a starting boost, but he has to train constantly to keep himself in top shape.

About having Richards, Stark or Pym to reproduce the serum, the possibility was ruled out years ago. If I rember right it was stated that lacking a full physical record of Steve before the Serum, it's incredibly difficult even for a super-genius to work out the element of the Serum from Cap's body.

Posted by leokearon

What's something like this done in the alternate reality tale  Captain America: The Chosen

Edited by Teerack

He wont lose it for more then an arc in the 616 continuum.

Posted by lorex

Loosing the benefits of the super soldier formula has been done several times before. While it is interesting from a story prespective it is somewhat played out at this point. Without the serium Steve is a skinny 90 pound weakling with a good heart but lecking the sence and ability ti back up his desires. In this world he would not be satisified behind a desk and would probable try to get involved somehow and get himself killed.

Posted by TheShame

@Dernman said:

I get the feeling they are going to do something stupid like change his power in away that they are reliant on his patriotism and belief in America.

Lol, if they do i'm not reading captain america anymore.

Posted by Dernman
@TheShame said:

@Dernman said:

I get the feeling they are going to do something stupid like change his power in away that they are reliant on his patriotism and belief in America.

Lol, if they do i'm not reading captain america anymore.

You should probably start thinking about what you;re going to replace CA with because the clues are there. :p 
At least for this plot it is. 
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Posted by Eyz

@TheShame said:

@Dernman said:

I get the feeling they are going to do something stupid like change his power in away that they are reliant on his patriotism and belief in America.

Lol, if they do i'm not reading captain america anymore.

They couldn't, at least not with the Avengers movie coming up.. (Marvel does love to synch' their comics alongside their movies)

Though one year from now, who knows!,,,

Posted by eatmore_payless

@Eyz said:

@TheShame said:

@Dernman said:

I get the feeling they are going to do something stupid like change his power in away that they are reliant on his patriotism and belief in America.

Lol, if they do i'm not reading captain america anymore.

They couldn't, at least not with the Avengers movie coming up.. (Marvel does love to synch' their comics alongside their movies)

Though one year from now, who knows!,,,

yeah if they added up new thing to caps power set then they;ll ruin the whole character.

Posted by jamesnoele

he just needs the yellow sun..oh wait.wrong dude.

Posted by Battlepig

@goldenkey said:

He lost it in Super Soldier, right after his return from the dead. He was the skinny little Steve Rodgers right before he took the serum. He's still commanding S.H.E.I.L.D. He doesn't need to go into the field to do that.

This.

Posted by longbowhunter

I didnt know the super soldier serum crapped out on Steve several times in the past. His super power is about as unreliable as my wi-fi.

Posted by ltbrd

I don't think the writers should do another story in which Cap is bereft of his abilities. The idea that the serum is something that can be taken out is a bit strange. The description of the serum has always been that it transforms the body to the peak of human potential. So right from the start it completely altered Steve's DNA and thus the change should be irreversible as it would take an anti-super soldier serum to revert his DNA back to what it was before. At least that's how I would look at his character. He doesn't need constant injections. The serum can't be drained. He was a 90 lb weakling that was permanently altered to what he is now. No going back. No draining. No serum running out.

I mean, it's not like his powers are that impressive anyways. He is at the peak of what a normal human being can do. Technically speaking its not superhuman in any way. Characters that were never physically weak, like Black Panther, Iron Fist, Shang-Chi, etc.... are able to match him in one physical category or more just through the training they have undergone. Steve simply has every physical category covered automatically. But its not superhuman so really its not something that can be taken away unless its by a character that can drain vitality or something (like DC's Parasite).

On the idea of his lifespan.....like everything else it should be enhanced. So if the average American is living to around 85 these days, I would think Steve should be able to push 150-200 easy.

Posted by airbound_dude

even if the could , the won't. Not in the 616 Regular Marvel Universe. But it could be done in the Ultimate Marvel Universe. Good thing about Ultimate Marvel is that anything goes. And it would be interesting seeing the Super Soldier Serum wearing off little by little. Who knows, maybe they'll do that.

Posted by Shazam78

Well true it's been done in so many ways. He has lost it but he always comes back. Still he's still got a lot of experience to back up his physical ablilites Steve a hero at heart but it's been a super soldier that makes Cap a superhero.

Posted by TDK_1997

If he loses the Super Soldier Serum things will get really interesting.

Posted by Phaedrusgr

Not again...that would prove nothing else but lack of imagination. Not again...Marvel (and DC) has to find new ideas. I understand that a writer would love to have such an opportunity, a story regarding Cap and a temporary loss of Super Serum, but it's simple. Not again...

Posted by gravitypress

The SS serum is in his DNA. In the storyline when he got strung out on drugs after an explosion he recieved a total blood transfusion and the serum was out but his body produced more.

Posted by nonfiction91

he's better off without it at his age, I say he loses it for a while and pulls a luthor. instead of dying, he goes for president, and of course wins. I'd read for four years just to see Steve as the commander in chief than the general in battle, just as a change

Posted by pspin

If he was in suspended animation his age should never catch up to him especially if the super soldier serum was a factor. If it did ever wear off for whatever reason he would either go back to how he was before or more likely, he would start aging from that point onwards normally and eventually become a regular person in terms of physical ability. He could still command SHEILD at that point though because he is still a great strategist

Posted by G-Man

The idea of the serum affecting his DNA is something that was added later. It was a little odd that he needed a complete blood transfusion when the serum was causing his body to shut down yet he got the transfusion from Red Skull in his cloned body. In order for the cloned body to have the Super Soldier Serum in it means it had to have affected his DNA.

Staff
Posted by The Stegman

Technically, i you wanna get realistic about it, the SSS is nothing more than a steroid enhancement of sorts, it should have burned out of his system a long time ago

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Posted by Alpha

I remember a story line involving Daredevil where Cap was caught in some chemical explosion that reacted to the serum which caused him to be more like the Punisher and DD was had to stop him. In the end, if I remember correctly, the serum was some how removed. This left him without the effects of it like strength, but he didn't lose his size or skill. So he continued being Cap. Anyone else remember this? It was in the late 80's or early 90's

Posted by LordRequiem

I love that Sentry took a formula that was the Cap Serum amplified 100,000 times by Weapon X, that shows its true potential.

Posted by GothamRed

I thought then ice block he was frozen in was what granted him his youth

Posted by Sammo21

@Dernman: yeah that's not going to happen. This isn't DC.

Posted by PowerHerc

The serum permanently changed his entire physiology.

Much the way food, water (or other nutrients),vitamins, dietary supplements and even anabolic steroids are processed by and change the human body but do not perpetually remain. The serum did it's job and is long gone, yet it's effects remain.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@saoakden said:

That is a good point. Wan't Steve Rogers: Super Soldier mini series about the guy's grandkid selling the formula or something or am I mistaken?

Yea at the end the Shadow Council where grooming some one to be the next Captain America without the kid knowing.
Posted by Dex_Starr

@Teerack said:

He wont lose it for more then an arc in the 616 continuum.

Agreed

Posted by Decept-O

An interesting point here, why not have the scientist characters Cap knows to do some R&D on himself regarding the serum?

I know that writers have often mucked with Cap's serum and its effects as pointed out in the article but I've always assumed it has affected the aging process as well which essentially is connected to the healing factor.

I think Steve Rogers will retain the super-soldier serum whether or not his DNA has been altered, it just makes sense he would have it in his system for the rest of his natural life.

One character though, whom I've often wondered about regarding the after effects of his received powers is Peter Parker. Will the spider powers remain with him all his life or will they eventually wear off?

Posted by Dernman
@Sammo21 said:

@Dernman: yeah that's not going to happen. This isn't DC.

I hope not but you can never tell with Marvel.
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Posted by Pauldro

I would rather read a storyline about several more people got the Super Soldier Serum or something similar. Then some of those super soliders can be more renegades, and since there are several more than Captain America, the story can about if we really need Cap since we have a super soldier serum. It could be about steve feeling useless. Though it may have been done before, I would still like to see it, or where once again he has to rely on Stark Armor to be powered once again.

Posted by Maki_P

I find this both incredibly stupid and incredibly awesome. In one hand the idea that the Serum can drained or that the effects weren't permanent (whether genetic or not) is honestly ridiculous. On the other hand the idea of Cap going back to they way he was, but retaining his training, skill and knowledge and not giving up on the hero biz is kinda awesome

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

The realistic thing would be to have the serum wear off eventually. I find that stories in comics relating to superheroes losing their powers tend to be the most entertaining, and in this case it does remind me alot of the Fighting Chance storyline, which I enjoyed immensely in the 90s. If we want to keep it ideal though it would seem that Marvel should just let the serum either wear off and have no effects on him or just not wear off at all. Either way I think it makes for interesting reading.

Posted by sladewilson30

Wouldn't he grow older and die, on top of reverting to being skinny again?

Posted by SeanNOLA

I think @Soldier zero: hit the nail on the head: Not only was it done after Streets of Poison, but afterwards, they explain that the Super Soldier "Serum" was effectively a virus that couldn't be flushed out of his system. After they replaced his blood with new blood, his body fundamentally altered that blood to include the virus. It took a couple of months, and he had to spend that time "proving himself" as a powerless hero, but eventually it was proven that you can't take the serum out of his body for an extended period of time.

Also, let's never mention Fighting Chance or the stupid exo-frame ever again...that was a dark time for comics...

Posted by clemj

old cap fighting old red skull 
what a sight

Posted by Soldier zero

@SeanNOLA: Although I agree that the exoframe was a pretty horrid idea, I think that the basic idea behind Fighting Chance was actually pretty good: nobody expected Cap to live so long (technically he should be about 80-90 years old right now) so it's likely that the Serum might have some unpredicted side-effects. Unfortunatly it was the 90s, so they had to stuff in some really crazy art.

@G-Man said:

The idea of the serum affecting his DNA is something that was added later. It was a little odd that he needed a complete blood transfusion when the serum was causing his body to shut down yet he got the transfusion from Red Skull in his cloned body. In order for the cloned body to have the Super Soldier Serum in it means it had to have affected his DNA.

Actually the transfusion from the Skull was to give Cap a dose of the "anti-serum" developed by Superia that reverted the degeneration started with Fighting Chance.

Edited by DATNIGGA

tbh as far as power goes hes at peak human so even without his serum with good workouts & eating health he'll still be the same old cap.

now getting old... um well idk lol

Posted by Hyperlight

@ltbrd:

I agree with you totally, if the serum causes a genetic shift than it should be irreversible by normal means even if the serum was taken out. The only thing is I dont see captain ever actually needing to work out with SSS keeping him in constant peak condition. If it was drained... I would see him having to workout to maintain his physique though.

As for life span I believe what your saying is very believable. Even more so, the SSS might keep him in his physical prime allowing no aging at all, which wouldnt be too far of a stretch.

Posted by orionblastar

When he was in the alternate world, he got zapped by a ray that temporarily took away his super soldier abilities. When he returned he had them back. Whatever that ray did, it seems to have changed his DNA or the way his body works now.

Steve Rogers still has his knowledge, skills, memories, and even without his muscles and whatnot he still has value. I suppose when his super soldier serum fails him, he will try to get super strength from somewhere else using steroids or something. Tony Stark can always build him another suit of armor, he can visit the power broker to get super strength, he can get a blood transfusion from the fake Steve Rogers who is still running around with super soldier serum in his blood, he can eat a lot of protein and exercise in a gym until he rebuilds muscles, he can find some sort of magic device to make him strong, and all sorts of other stuff.

But failing all that, he can be old and skinny Steve Rogers with health conditions and be retired and just run Intel and Analysis using what is left of his brain.

Posted by TheShame

@eatmore_payless said:

@Eyz said:

@TheShame said:

@Dernman said:

I get the feeling they are going to do something stupid like change his power in away that they are reliant on his patriotism and belief in America.

Lol, if they do i'm not reading captain america anymore.

They couldn't, at least not with the Avengers movie coming up.. (Marvel does love to synch' their comics alongside their movies)

Though one year from now, who knows!,,,

yeah if they added up new thing to caps power set then they;ll ruin the whole character.

Sadly, marvel has a tendency to do such things. Sensationalism=sales.

ps.so many quotes within a quote!

Posted by MutieLover

In "House of M" Steve was never frozen. He was the first human man on the moon and such. He was about 100 during the time of that story, but while his fighting days were long past him, he still seemed to get around all right. I would guess that he had the functionality of a 60 year.

Posted by Kallarkz

@datnigga The problems he is NOT at his peak without this serum. He turns into an old looking decrepit man.

Posted by dewboy01

Super soldier serum should have a little mix of gamma.

Posted by EugeneSaxe

No, because there has to be a Cap, and Marvel just wasted the perfect opportunity to replace Rogers. Although I imagine if he does lose it, someone will miraculously rediscover the SS formula that's been lost for decades, because that would be easier than designing a character from the ground up :|

Posted by SpidermanWins

@TDK_1997 said:

If he loses the Super Soldier Serum things will get really interesting.

Posted by one_upper

The answer to your question pretty self-explanatory. He'd die.

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