Captain America is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by cartoonists Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (cover dated March 1941) from Timely Comics, a predecessor of Marvel Comics. Captain America was designed as a patriotic supersoldier who often fought the Axis powers of World War II and was Timely Comics’ most popular character during the wartime period. The popularity of superheroes waned following the war and the Captain America comic book was discontinued in 1950, with a short-lived revival in 1953. Since Marvel Comics revived the character in 1964, Captain America has remained in publication.
The character wears a costume bearing an American flag motif, and he utilizes a nearly indestructible shield which he throws as a projectile. Captain America is the alter ego of Steve Rogers, a frail young man enhanced to the peak of human perfection by an experimental serum to aid the United States government’s efforts in World War II. Near the end of the war, he was trapped in ice and survived in suspended animation until he was revived in the present day. Although Captain America often struggles to maintain his ideals as a man out of his time with its modern realities, he remains a highly respected figure in his community which includes becoming the long-time leader of the Avengers.
Captain America was the first Marvel Comics character to appear in media outside comics with the release of the 1944 movie serial, Captain America. Since then, the character has been featured in other films and television series. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the character is portrayed by Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and the fourth Avengers film.
Captain America is ranked sixth on IGN’s “Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time” in 2011, second in their list of “The Top 50 Avengers” in 2012, and second in their “Top 25 best Marvel superheroes” list in 2014
Captain America Comics #1 — cover-dated March 1941 and on sale December 20, 1940, a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but a full year into World War II — showed the protagonist punching Nazi leader Adolf Hitler; it sold nearly one million copies. While most readers responded favorably to the comic, some took objection. Simon noted, “When the first issue came out we got a lot of … threatening letters and hate mail. Some people really opposed what Cap stood for.” The threats, which included menacing groups of people loitering out on the street outside of the offices, proved so serious that police protection was posted with New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia personally contacting Simon and Kirby to give his support.
Though preceded as a “patriotically themed superhero” by MLJ’s The Shield, Captain America immediately became the most prominent and enduring of that wave of superheroes introduced in American comic books prior to and during World War II, as evidenced by the unusual move at the time of premiering the character in his own title instead of an anthology title first. This popularity drew the attention and a complaint from MLJ that the character’s triangular shield too closely resembled the chest symbol of their Shield character. In response, Goodman had Simon and Kirby create a distinctive round shield for issue 2, which went on to become an iconic element of the character. With his sidekick Bucky, Captain America faced Nazis, Japanese, and other threats to wartime America and the Allies. Stanley Lieber, now better known as Stan Lee, contributed to the character in issue #3 in the filler text story “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge”, which introduced the character’s use of his shield as a returning throwing weapon. Captain America soon became Timely’s most popular character and even had a fan-club called the “Sentinels of Liberty”.
Circulation figures remained close to a million copies per month after the debut issue, which outstripped even the circulation of news magazines such as Time during the period. After the Simon and Kirby team moved to DC Comics in late 1941, having produced Captain America Comics through issue #10 (January 1942), Al Avison and Syd Shores became regular pencillers of the celebrated title, with one generally inking over the other. The character was featured in All Winners Comics #1–19 (Summer 1941 – Fall 1946), Marvel Mystery Comics #80–84 and #86–92, USA Comics #6–17 (Dec. 1942 – Fall 1945), and All Select Comics #1–10 (Fall 1943 – Summer 1946).
In the post-war era, with the popularity of superheroes fading, Captain America led Timely’s first superhero team, the All-Winners Squad, in its two published adventures, in All Winners Comics #19 and #21 (Fall–Winter 1946; there was no issue #20). After Bucky was shot and wounded in a 1948 Captain America story, he was succeeded by Captain America’s girlfriend, Betsy Ross, who became the superheroine Golden Girl. Captain America Comics ran until issue #73 (July 1949),
at which time the series was retitled Captain America’s Weird Tales for two issues, with the finale being a horror/suspense anthology issue with no superheroes.
Atlas Comics attempted to revive its superhero titles when it reintroduced Captain America, along with the original Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, in Young Men #24 (Dec. 1953). Billed as “Captain America, Commie Smasher!” Captain America appeared during the next year in Young Men #24–28 and Men’s Adventures #27–28, as well as in issues #76–78 of an eponymous title. Atlas’ attempted superhero revival was a commercial failure, and the character’s title was canceled with Captain America #78 (Sept. 1954
by simon schofield