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 punching out
his first, and his most iconic foe, Adolf Hitler
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
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
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
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.
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)
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 #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
Young Men #28-the
last appearance of any Captain America until Avengers #4 in
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
"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.