Captain America Retcon History:

An explanation of Captain America's retcon history, featuring the multiple Captains America seen before Captain America's Sllver Age First Appearance in Avengers #4

 

Captain America

Captain America punching out his first, and his most iconic foe, Adolf Hitler himself!

 

When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby re-introduced Captain America to the Marvel Universe in Avengers #4 (1964), they created a major continuity issue. You see, in the real world (IRL) publication history of Captain America (in his own title, as well as the All-Winners Squad comics, among others), Captain America continues his adventures at the end of World War Two fighting against the Japanese, and then throughout the late 1940s (often battling communist spies), and then fighting in the Korean War of the early 1950s. The problem with this is that when Stan Lee wrote in Avengers #4 that Cap (and Bucky), had disappeared in 1945 due to an explosion over the English Channel, this was at odds with the comics of the later 1940s and early 1950s that clearly showed Captain America and Bucky in action post-World War Two.

To correct this problem, Marvel retroactively changed (Retconned) the Captain America continuity. In 1977's Captain America #215, writer Roy Thomas "cleaned up" the big question of how Captain America was around after Steve Rogers and Bucky disappeared. This story line reveals that the characters William Naslund and Fred Davis Jr. took over the roles of Captain America and Bucky. The Official Index to the Marvel Universe identifies that Naslund and Davis' run as Captain America and Bucky ran from Captain America Comics #49 (published in August, 1945) through #58 (September, 1946).

Captain America #215 Cover

Captain America #215 Cover

In the retcon, after the disappearance of the original Captain America and Bucky, President Harry Truman calls upon another costumed hero, the Spirit of '76 (William Naslund) to take over the role of Captain America. Since the country was still at war, Truman felt that the death or disappearance of this American icon would hurt the war effort. Thus, Naslund become the second Captain America. The public was led to believe that Captain America was the same person as before. According to the retcon story, Naslund continued in his role as Captain America, and was a member of the All-Winners Squad until he died in 1946 during a battle with an evil android.

Another hero and member of the All-Winners Squad, The Patriot (Jeff Mace), finds the dead second version of Cap and assumes his identity and serves as Captain America until 1950, when he married and settled down.

At this point of the retcon, things get a little weird and rather tragic. A history teacher named William Burnside, who was a Captain America fan (to the point of obsession), became the third substitute Captain America, with one of his students, James "Jack" Monroe, serving as his Bucky. Using a version of the Super-Soldier serum (minus the "Vita-Rays" that would complete the process), this new team of Cap and Bucky impersonated the original heroes until overcome by insanity brought on by the incomplete Super-Soldier process. Burnside, as an historian, was able to discover the identity of the original Captain America, as Steve Rogers. To complete his obsession with becoming Cap, Burnside changed his name to Steve Rogers and even underwent plastic surgery to resemble the original Rogers. In the retcon, this device is used to explain why the comics from the 1950s identify Cap as Steve Rogers. Jack Monroe would later be revived, and cured of his insanity (at least temporarily), and serve as the hero and Cap ally Nomad.

 

In the retcon, Burnside and Monroe were captured by the U.S. government and put into suspended animation to keep them out of the public eye. Again, as far as the public was concerned, all of these Captains America: Naslund, Mace, and Burnside, were the real, original Captain America.

 

Here is a list of the Golden Age Comic Book Chronology of these first four Captains America, with the Roy Thomas retcon in mind. This list shows the original Golden Age titles put out by Timely Comics and Atlas Comics (forerunners to the modern Marvel Comics) with their publication dates and the retconned citation as to which version of Cap (Rogers, Naslund, Mace, or Burnside) appear.

 

Captain America Comics #1-48 and All Winners Comics #1-15, published by Timely Comics-this features the original Captain America (Steve Rogers) and Bucky (James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes)

 

 All- Winners #4 Cover with Captain America, Human, Torch, Sub-Mariner, Bucky, Whizzer, Destroyer

All- Winners #4 Cover with Captain America, Bucky, Human, Torch, Toro, Sub-Mariner, Whizzer, Destroyer

 

Captain America Comics #47-58 and All Winners Comics #17-19 features the second, Truman-chosen Captain America, William Naslund, and his faux Bucky, Fred Davis, Jr.

**NOTE: All Winners Comics #19, featured the first appearance of the All-Winners Squad, of whom Cap and Bucky were members.

There would be about a four-year gap in publishing any Captain America comics from 1950 to 1953, when Marvel brought back Cap and Bucky in a title called Young Men.

Young Men #24-28 and Captain America #76-78 featured the third Captain America, William Burnside and Jack Monroe as his Bucky.

Young Men #24 (Dec. 1953)-first appearance (retconned) of William Burnside as Captain America.

Young Men #28-the last appearance of any Captain America until Avengers #4 in 1964

 

 

There would not be any new Captain America tales until Stan Lee and Jack Kirby resurrected the original Captain America (Steve Rogers) in Avengers #4.

*NOTE: A few months before Avengers #4, there was a Captain America who battled the modern Human Torch in the pages of Strange Tales #114. That, however, was a villain called the Acrobat. In the final panels of this comic, Stan Lee is quite clear that the appearance of this fake Cap was a test run to see if fans wanted the real thing back.

As Stan wrote on the last page of Strange Tales #114: (bold-faced words are from Stan Lee)

"You guessed it! This story was really a test! To see if you too would like Captain America to return! As usual, your letters will give us the answer!"

 

 

As revealed in Avengers #4, Captain America was put into suspended animation and Bucky was seemingly killed before the end of World War II. In order to make further Captain America stories fit in continuity, Captain America #215 reveals that William Naslund and Fred Davis Jr. took over the roles of Captain America and Bucky. The Official Index to the Marvel Universe identifies that Naslund and Davis' run as Captain America and Bucky ran from Captain America Comics #49 through #58. Although the characters in this story are still referred to by as "Steve Rogers" and "Bucky Barnes", they are named William Naslund and Fred Davis here where applicable to avoid confusion.

 


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