One of the great comic book writers and editors at Marvel was Mark Gruenwald, whose death is still being felt in the industry, both within the organization and among his colleagues. Gruenwald is one of those few people about whom you will not find bad comments. The writer’s favorite hero was Captain America, to whom he spent years creating great stories. Like the one we remember today: the replacement for Captain America.
Captain America had had several memorable seasons in his comic, such as that of Roger Stern and John Byrne, or that of JM DeMatteis and Mike Zeck. He presented an article about it:
After DeMatteis’ departure, writer-editor Mike Carlin did some transition issues. Officially, Mark Gruenwald entered Captain America #307, published on April 2, 1985.
Gruenwald was a fan of Captain America and what he stood for. The superhero was much more than his abilities, it was the essence and integrity of him. Captain America is more than a patriotic hero in the service of a government. The identity represented the struggle for one’s own ideals and those of the people. From Kirby to Gruenwald to Stern to DeMatteis, they knew. Captain America had been born in the ’40s as a response to the war, as part of a necessity and had evolved beyond the colors that he wore.
During his time in the comics, Steve Rogers had sometimes questioned the meaning of his role. For some time he put it aside, creating an alternate identity, that of Nomad (Captain America #180), only to return to his own four issues later.
Leading up to Steve Rogers’ replacement story, two characters join the cast of Captain America: a new Nomad (Jack Monroe) and D-Man (Demolition Man, Dennis Dunphy).
In contrast, a supposed hero, Super-Patriot, operates as a vigilante in the name of American patriotism. Patriot has already had a rough run with Cap.
Rogers (whose identity is secret) has had other encounters with paramilitary groups, secretly sponsored by government groups. A group of villains, the Brotherhood of Mutants, under the leadership of Mystique, work for the government under the name of Freedom Force, with brutal and almost criminal methods.
In Captain America #332, a commission within the government is formed to inquire about the Avenger’s activities, since they claim that he operates outside the law. They make an audience with him and demand that he submit to the orders of the government.
The Commission assures Rogers that the name, role, coat of arms and costume are the property of the United States government, as well as the super-soldier program that gave him powers in 1940. To make matters worse, Steve made a verbal contract with President Roosevelt in who promised to serve his country. Not having been declared dead after his disappearance in 1945, Steve remains legally bound.
If he does not accept the conditions, Rogers must return all the equipment, as well as a million dollars that had recently been awarded to him for the time he had been in suspended animation.
Since agreeing to the terms means giving up his ideals, Steve Rogers resigns.
At the next number, the Commission considers new candidates; curiously, they reject the idea that Sam Wilson, The Falcon, take the place because the country is not ready for an African-American Captan America.
The selected subject is Super-Patriot, whose civilian identity is that of Jonathan Walker, a radical subject who believes that the ends justify the means. A group of athletes, friends of Walker, have helped him set up scenarios to make him look like a hero and publicly discredit Captain America.
One of John Walker’s friends, Lemar Joskins, is chosen to be Walker’s Bucky and later assumes the name Battlestar. The rest of his friends are discarded to accompany him on missions, which generates discontent among them.
For his part, the D-Man creates a new uniform for Steve, who assumes the name of The Captain. Iron Stark designs a new shield, the closest thing to the original, which is the product of an unrepeatable accident.
These elements come together for the start of a great saga in the history of Captain America, culminating in #354 and the creation of US Agent.
It is the 35th anniversary of the publication of Captain America #332, on May 5, 1987.
We would love to give thanks to the writer of this short article for this remarkable material
Captain America’s replacement.
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