Friday

OMU: Captain America -- Year Four

Captain America spends the next twelve months of his life juggling a complicated triple-identity as a superhero, a New York City police officer, and a part-time S.H.I.E.L.D. operative. The conflicting demands of these vocations nearly prove to be more than even Steve Rogers can handle, and his friendships definitely suffer as a result. Even so, for most of the year, Steve enjoys a pretty good relationship with his lover, super-spy Sharon Carter. Throughout this period, Captain America must face the moral ambiguities of the modern world as he learns that, despite his best intentions, systemic racism can spoil his partnership with the Falcon, sexual jealousy can drive a wedge between him and Nick Fury, rampant corruption can tarnish his image of the police force, and his own sexism can imperil his relationship with Sharon. Nevertheless, Cap keeps soldiering on through all adversity.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Continuing on with... The True History of Captain America!


January 1965 – Captain America and the Falcon suddenly find themselves on a dingy subway platform in Manhattan with no memory of how they came to be there. Thor, Iron Man, and Goliath are with them, but they are equally perplexed. Iron Man, who is acting a bit strangely, flies off while the others return to Avengers Mansion. A few hours later, the four heroes rescue Iron Man from a gang of uniformed men wearing jetpacks. Seemingly dazed, Iron Man flies off again without explaining himself. Cap decides that if Iron Man wanted his help, he’d ask for it.

Steve Rogers starts his undercover assignment for the Police Commissioner, posing as a rookie beat cop to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances of police officers and city officials. At the precinct, he is introduced to Sgt. Brian Muldoon, a real ball-buster who reminds Steve of his World War II drill instructor, Sgt. Duffy. While walking his beat through Upper Manhattan, Steve meets a local minister, Reverend Garcia. The Reverend’s sudden disappearance leads Steve to discover who is behind the kidnappings—the Grey Gargoyle. Joined by the Falcon, Captain America fights with the Grey Gargoyle, but the villain manages to escape. Changing back to his patrolman’s uniform, Steve calls the police to the Grey Gargoyle’s hideout, where his petrified victims start reverting to normal. Commissioner Murphy commends Steve for his quick results and defends him from Muldoon’s criticism of not following proper procedure.

Later, concerned about the Falcon, who flew off in pursuit of the Grey Gargoyle, Steve heads over to Sam Wilson’s office to look for him. There, Steve meets Sam’s girlfriend, Leila Taylor, who refuses to answer any questions from a white cop. Discouraged, Steve changes back into Captain America and goes looking for the Falcon on his motorcycle. He soon decides to seek help from S.H.I.E.L.D., and so, once aboard the Helicarrier, he is reunited with Sharon Carter. They kiss and make up, but are interrupted by Nick Fury, who is annoyed that Cap and the Falcon always seem to be searching for each other. Fury says his agency is busy constructing an orbital platform where they can safely experiment with dangerous substances, such as the unstable compound known as Element X. Learning that stone provides the only effective shielding for Element X, Cap suspects that the Grey Gargoyle will try to steal it before it is launched into orbit.

Sure enough, the Grey Gargoyle uses the Falcon as a Judas goat to get aboard the Helicarrier and hijack it. Most of the crew abandons ship, but the Grey Gargoyle manages to turn Sharon and Fury to stone before they can escape. Unwilling to abandon his friends, Cap fights with the villain until the Helicarrier arrives at the camouflaged mountain stronghold where Element X is housed. When the proper code-signal is not received, the S.H.I.E.L.D. base opens fire and shoots the Helicarrier out of the sky. During the barrage, the Grey Gargoyle slips inside the installation, but Cap is busy rescuing his friends before the massive airship crashes to the ground in a spectacular fiery demise. About an hour later, after the Grey Gargoyle’s stone-touch has worn off, Cap, Falcon, Sharon, and Fury break into the base and attack the villain again. This time they get the better of him, and the Grey Gargoyle, along with Element X, is launched into high earth orbit where he can do no harm.

After returning to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Cap and the Falcon head home to Harlem. Steve quickly freshens up, dons his patrolman’s uniform, and rushes to the precinct house, where Muldoon chews him out for being late for his second day on the force. Though his undercover assignment has been completed, Steve has decided to continue working for the NYPD in an attempt to build a life for himself outside of his Captain America identity. Commissioner Murphy soon arrives with Reverend Garcia, who persuades Steve to volunteer at his afterschool boys’ club in Harlem. However, Steve’s plans for the evening are derailed when Sam Wilson is brutally beaten by members of the People’s Militia, a violent “Black Power” organization. After changing into Captain America, he finds members of the People’s Militia roughing up Reverend Garcia at the boys’ club, and during the ensuing fight, Sam arrives as the Falcon to lend a hand. After the young toughs have been defeated, Cap and the Falcon find a tense standoff outside between an angry crowd of black residents and police dressed in riot gear. Falcon negotiates with the crowd, calming things down a bit and buying some time for him and Cap to continue their investigation. The two heroes head immediately to the headquarters of the People’s Militia, where they discover the group’s leader is none other than the Red Skull. With help from the Falcon’s trained bird, Redwing, Cap and his partner escape from the villain’s deathtrap, but they are unable to capture the Red Skull before he escapes. Returning to the boys’ club, Cap and Falcon find that Leila has helped negotiate a peaceful resolution with Commissioner Murphy. However, as the crowd disperses, Cap makes a comment that the Falcon takes to be racially insensitive and he leaves angry. Hoping to clear the air, Cap follows him back to Sam’s office, only to find Sam making out with Leila. Cap decides not to interrupt them, but worries that racial tensions may spoil his partnership with the Falcon.

At Avengers Mansion, Captain America, Goliath, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and the Vision watch television news coverage of a racially charged crisis in San Francisco. They are surprised when Thor appears and announces that he must deal with the situation alone. Though Thor declines to fully explain himself, the Avengers agree to let him handle it. Later, Cap finally gets a chance to apologize to Sam for his remarks after the fight with the Red Skull, but Sam remains angry, explaining that the people of Harlem see the Falcon as more of an “Uncle Tom” than a hero. Hoping to change the public’s perception of him, Sam officially dissolves their partnership and throws away his green-and-gold costume, replacing it with a new red-and-white design. Cap is saddened by this turn of events, but accepts Sam’s decision and remains behind when the Falcon is called into action against some local drug pushers. The next day, Steve moves out of Sam’s apartment and checks into the Corinth Hotel, a cheap flophouse near the Gramercy Park neighborhood.

One of the first acts of newly-inaugurated President Morris N. Richardson is to create the Alien Activities Commission and appoint conservative politician H. Warren Craddock to lead it. Following the commission’s first televised hearings, Cap receives a call from the Avengers summoning the founding members to an emergency meeting. He soon joins Thor, Iron Man, and Ant-Man at Avengers Mansion, but they are interrupted when the Vision staggers in and collapses. After effecting repairs to his synthezoid teammate, Ant-Man announces that he has resigned from the team and departs. Regaining consciousness, the Vision recounts how he, Goliath, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were called to testify before Craddock’s commission about their connection to the alien superhero Captain Marvel, and when they returned to the mansion, the original members declared them to be a disgrace and disbanded the team. Cap, Thor, and Iron Man assure the Vision that he has been tricked by a trio of impostors. The Vision then relates how he and the others went to rendezvous with Captain Marvel at an upstate farm, where they were attacked by three cows who suddenly transformed into doppelgängers of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Badly damaged in the melee, the Vision was forced to abandon the fight and return to Avengers Mansion to seek help.

Taking a Quinjet, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision race to the farm, where they find Goliath and Rick Jones still fighting the Fantastic Four impostors. Vision surmises that they must be Skrulls, mimicking the heroes’ powers through technological means. The Avengers defeat their foes, but then a massive flying saucer erupts from the farmhouse and speeds off into the sky, with Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel presumably aboard. As they take the unconscious Skrulls into custody, the Avengers realize the Vision has disappeared. When they arrive at their headquarters, the Avengers restrain and sedate the Skrulls, then Iron Man contacts the Fantastic Four. Mister Fantastic realizes the Skrulls must be three of the four who impersonated them three years ago, and he promises to send over his files on that encounter.

February 1965 – In the Avengers’ conference room, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Goliath, and Rick Jones discuss their plans to rescue their missing teammates. The Vision reappears, having discovered that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were indeed kidnapped by Skrulls, and that the Kree and the mysterious Inhumans are somehow involved as well. The meeting is interrupted, though, when H. Warren Craddock arrives outside the mansion with a military detachment to back him up. He intends to take the Avengers in for questioning, and has brought along three soldiers in bulky suits of armor to subdue the heroes, if necessary. After a brief scuffle, Iron Man is able to force the Mandroid suits to overload and shut down. The Avengers then realize that one of the Inhumans, Triton, has come to them for help. Triton explains that his king, Black Bolt, has been deposed by his brother, Maximus the Mad, who wants to start a war with the human race. Struck with amnesia, Black Bolt has been exiled to San Francisco and all efforts to find him have failed. Thor corroborates Triton’s story, so Cap suggests they head to California at once. The Vision objects, however, saying the rescue of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch should be their top priority. The team decides to split up, so only Cap, Goliath, and Rick leave with Triton for California. When they arrive in San Francisco, they quickly locate Black Bolt, who has since regained his memory. Cap agrees to fly the two Inhumans and Black Bolt’s young friend Joey to their Great Refuge in the Himalayas. There, they find the hidden city sealed within a black force-field dome, which, to their surprise, Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision are attempting to breach. After silently examining the barrier, Black Bolt shatters it into tiny shards with the awesome destructive power of his voice. He then asserts his authority over the city’s armed sentries and leads the Avengers to the royal palace, where they find Maximus conspiring with agents of the Kree Empire. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, the Kree agents beat a hasty retreat, kidnapping Rick in the process. Their spaceship warps into hyperspace before the Avengers can follow. Maximus is defeated, and Captain America vows that the Avengers will take the fight to the Kree and the Skrulls to rescue their friends.

The Avengers borrow a spacecraft from S.H.I.E.L.D., and with help from Thor’s enchanted hammer, they are able to warp through hyperspace to the Andromeda Galaxy. They emerge in the midst of the Skrull Imperial Armada and fight their way onto the flagship. Storming the command deck, the Avengers confront Commandant Kalxor, but he remains defiant, having learned of the Avengers from Skrull intelligence reports. Suddenly, the face of Skrull Emperor Dorrek appears on the viewscreen, revealing that Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel are his prisoners. However, Captain Marvel initiates an escape attempt just before the transmission is terminated. The Vision grabs Kalxor and beats him mercilessly, shocking his teammates with his brutality. Iron Man and Thor pull the Vision off him, and Kalxor explains that a lone ship has left the fleet to destroy the Earth. Goliath takes off in pursuit and manages to catch up to the craft before they are lost from sight. The Skrull crew then tries to overwhelm the Avengers with the sheer weight of numbers, only to be unexpectedly frozen in place by a wave of strange energy. Confused, the Avengers return to their ship, intent on reaching the Skrull Thoneworld. However, they find themselves suddenly teleported to the planet Hala in the Kree Galaxy, where they come face-to-face with the eerie visage of the Supreme Intelligence, ruler of the Kree Empire. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel materialize as well, as the Supreme Intelligence reveals that Rick Jones has ended the Kree-Skrull War by awakening his latent psychic powers, though the experience has nearly killed him. Captain America watches as Captain Marvel phases into Rick’s body to provide the additional life-force the boy will need to survive. Rick then awakens, groggy and confused. The Supreme Intelligence assures the Avengers that the crisis is over, then teleports them all back to Earth.

Materializing outside Avengers Mansion, the heroes are met by Nick Fury, who reveals that the H. Warren Craddock who hounded them was in fact a Skrull, the fourth member of the squad that previously impersonated the Fantastic Four. The alien reverted to its true form in the middle of a speech, Fury reports, and was beaten to death by an angry mob. S.H.I.E.L.D. then located the real Craddock, who has cleared the Avengers of any wrongdoing. The Avengers then realize Goliath is not among them, and they fear he’s been lost in space.

A few days later, Captain America is on monitor duty at Avengers Mansion when a man in green armor carries Iron Man into the building. Seeing that Iron Man’s armor is heavily damaged, Cap assumes the worst and attacks the green-armored figure. However, the stranger insists, in his thick Irish brogue, that he rescued Iron Man from a villain called Mikas and brought him to the Avengers for help. Cap apologizes and takes them to the medical bay. Iron Man soon recovers enough to return to Stark Industries along with the armored Irishman.

Nick Fury asks Cap to participate in a mock battle, which is being staged for the benefit of President Richardson and his advisors. The exercise is meant to secure additional funding for S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new all-female taskforce, dubbed Femme Force One. The squad, led by Sharon, makes a good showing, but the new President refuses to commit to financing the initiative, claiming to be hampered by the Washington bureaucracy. Feeling he’s being stonewalled, Fury tells Sharon to take some vacation time. She suggests that she and Steve take a trip somewhere together, but Steve is not able to get any time off from the police department. Sharon is disappointed, but Steve promises to make it up to her.

At the next Avengers meeting, the team discusses strategies for finding out what happened to Goliath. After the meeting, Cap turns on the evening news and sees a report of an angry mob threatening a Chinese delegation staying at a Manhattan hotel. A group of rabble-rousers called the Warhawks, led by a man with a mohawk called Mr. Tallon, incites the crowd to riot. Cap, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch decide to intervene, and are joined by Rick Jones. However, once they are on the scene, the music played by two pipers in hooded robes causes the heroes to black out. When they come to, the street is wrecked, the mob has dispersed, and Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision are with them. Cap is disturbed to learn that “Mr. Tallon” was really Ares, the Greek god of war, and his pipers’ music caused the Avengers to fight each other. Luckily, Thor and the Vision were immune to the effect and managed to drive Ares off. Suddenly, Hawkeye emerges from the crowd, having abandoned his Goliath identity, and reveals that he’s found Hercules suffering from total amnesia. Back at Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye explains how he blew up the Skrull death-ship before it could enter hyperspace and was then teleported back to Earth. However, he materialized in Yugoslavia, where he fell in with a traveling carnival. It was there that he discovered the amnesiac Hercules. Eventually, they made their way back to New York. Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man then try to question Hercules again, but they are interrupted when two Olympian warriors appear. The pair easily fights off the Avengers and kidnaps Hercules. Hawkeye blames the Vision for allowing them to get away, but Thor says they need to focus on what comes next—the Avengers must storm the very halls of Olympus itself.

A day later, Captain America heads to Garrett Castle in England to rendezvous with Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Knight, Black Panther, and the Vision. The Hulk arrives as well, though he is suspicious of the others and threatens to leave before Cap convinces him to stay. The Black Knight leads them into the depths of the castle, where he summons up the spirit of his ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia, the original Black Knight of legend. Sir Percy’s ghost reveals how Ares came into possession of the Ebony Blade and teamed up with the Enchantress to conquer three worlds: Earth, Asgard, and Olympus. Their first move was to transform the gods of Olympus into crystalline statues and banish Hercules to Earth, bereft of his memory. Unexpectedly, the Swordsman swings down from the rafters and claims his Avengers membership, demanding to help stop Ares. Cap is not inclined to trust the Swordsman, but Thor accepts him into their ranks. The thunder god then chooses Iron Man, Hulk, Black Knight, and Vision to accompany him to Olympus while the rest remain behind to guard Earth. Captain America’s squad soon detects an interdimensional portal opening in the center of London and speeds to the scene, where they find an army of demonic creatures pouring through a hole in space. The demons are quickly driven back into their own realm, at which point Thor’s squad emerges through the portal, having rescued Hercules and defeated the villains. However, Hercules must remain in Olympus to help Thor close the portal. Having won the day, the Avengers go their separate ways, and Captain America returns to New York.

March–June 1965 – Steve continues to maintain his cover identity as a rookie patrolman for the NYPD and enjoys feeling more connected to the people on the street. He also develops a deep respect for Sgt. Muldoon, recognizing his devotion to the police force, and their relationship grows friendlier. In his spare time, Steve hangs out at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters as Captain America, helping to train Femme Force One to work as a team, after the government appropriation is finally approved. Cap notices a certain amount of friction between Sharon and her second-in-command, Contessa Valentina Allegra de La Fontaine, but chalks it up to a typical clash of two strong personalities.

July 1965 – Captain America is recruited by Nick Fury to lead Femme Force One on their first field mission, taking down a resurgent faction of HYDRA in the Las Vegas area. From S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters they are transported to the new Helicarrier, where a Boeing 707 is waiting to take them out west. Cap is happy to find the jet’s pilot is Agent Eric Koenig, who was a member of Fury’s Howling Commandos during World War II. While en route, Cap becomes suspicious of one of the members of Femme Force who is lingering near the aircraft’s hatch. Sure enough, she reveals herself to be a double agent when the plane is attacked by a HYDRA raiding party. During the melee, Sharon is shot and badly wounded, which sends Cap into a violent fit of rage. He nearly strangles the HYDRA agent who shot her until the Contessa intervenes, telling Cap he needs to get to the cockpit to prevent the plane from crashing. Cap fights his way through the forward section of the plane, enabling Koenig to make a safe landing at Nellis Air Force Base. The defeated HYDRA agents are taken into custody while Sharon is rushed to the hospital.

While Sharon is recovering from emergency surgery, the flirtatious Contessa convinces Cap to join her for dinner at a casino on the Las Vegas Strip. However, while they are there, they receive word that Sharon has been kidnapped by HYDRA. Furious, Cap returns to the hospital, where he is given a ransom note demanding he go alone to a HYDRA installation out in the desert. Ignoring the Contessa’s attempt to devise a strategy, Cap requisitions a S.H.I.E.L.D. motorcycle and roars off into the wilderness. He is picked up along the way by a HYDRA airship equipped with a vortex beam and taken to their headquarters, where the new Supreme Hydra reveals that the comatose Sharon is his prisoner. Before Cap can decide what to do, the Femme Force storms the complex with guns blazing. Cap savagely attacks the Supreme Hydra, but the villain manages to push a button that delivers a hefty jolt of electricity into Sharon’s body. Thinking she’s been electrocuted, Cap goes berserk and chokes him. Ripping off the Supreme Hydra’s mask—wanting to see his face as he dies—Cap is startled to find a young man who calls out to his father for help. Unmoved, Cap is about to smash his foe’s face in when the Contessa intervenes again, revealing that the electric shock has merely revived Sharon from her coma. Cap immediately embraces Sharon and kisses her, giving the Supreme Hydra a chance to escape in a rocket. Cursing himself, Cap grabs a Femme Force jetpack and sets off in pursuit.

The chase leads Cap back to the Las Vegas Strip, where he follows the Supreme Hydra into the Desert Inn’s penthouse suite, normally occupied by the reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes. However, Cap discovers that the penthouse has been taken over by the New York City mob boss known as the Kingpin, who reveals that the Supreme Hydra is his son. Cap and the Kingpin fight, with the crimelord proving to be a surprisingly formidable opponent. Caught in a bear hug, Cap feels himself losing consciousness when the Falcon suddenly swoops in to the rescue. Falcon notes that he has a personal vendetta against the Kingpin for the misery his syndicate has inflicted on the people of Harlem. However, the fight is interrupted by a holographic projection of the Red Skull, who claims that HYDRA has always been merely a pawn in his own schemes. The Red Skull gloats that he has activated the Fifth Sleeper—a gigantic robot armed with a deadly nerve gas that is marching towards Las Vegas at that very moment. Angry at his son for being duped by the forces of Nazism, the Kingpin offers to join forces with Cap to defeat their common enemy. Captain America accepts, telling the Falcon to coordinate with S.H.I.E.L.D., then heads off to intercept the Fifth Sleeper.

Using the S.H.I.E.L.D. jetpack, Cap quickly catches up to the Fifth Sleeper on the outskirts of the city. Just as Cap is about to get inside the giant robot’s leg, the Femme Force arrives on the scene, led once again by Sharon, and opens fire with their blasters. Unable to wave them off, Cap enters and fights his way through the robot’s interior until finally confronting the Red Skull in the command center inside its head. As the Falcon and Redwing fly in through the front viewports, Cap punches the Red Skull so hard the villain falls out a viewport on the opposite side. Intent on stopping the robot’s advance, Cap and the Falcon start smashing the control panels. They get out and take cover just as the Fifth Sleeper self-destructs in a massive explosion. No trace is found of the Red Skull in the wreckage, but the authorities nevertheless assume he was killed in the blast. Later, back at the Desert Inn, a representative of Howard Hughes thanks Cap, Falcon, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents for saving Las Vegas and freeing his employer from the Kingpin’s clutches.

Back in New York, Cap and Sharon attend a dinner party at the Plaza Hotel in honor of the publication by Marvel Comics of the 100th issue of the comic book Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, a fictionalized account of Nick Fury’s World War II exploits. Nick Fury, Dum-Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, Izzy Cohen, Percy Pinkerton, Dino Manelli, and Congressman Robert Ralston are the guests of honor. The proceedings are interrupted by an assassination attempt on Congressman Ralston, who is a known advocate for civil rights legislation. Fury and the former Howling Commandos immediately pursue the two assassins out of the building, while the Fantastic Four take charge of the crime scene until the police can arrive. Cap accompanies Ralston in the ambulance to protect him from any follow-up attacks. Later, Sharon tells Cap that both assassins were gunned down while trying to escape the massive S.H.I.E.L.D. manhunt. Ralston makes a full recovery.

September 1965 – When the Hulk is implicated in the disappearance of Senator Morton Clegstead, the government orders S.H.I.E.L.D. to work with the military’s Hulkbuster unit to capture the green behemoth. Captain America is happy to offer General T.E. “Thunderbolt” Ross the benefit of his experience in dealing with the Hulk. Over the course of the month, the Hulk gets into various skirmishes with the military’s forces, but Cap, busy with his work as a police officer, acts mainly as a consultant.

October 1965 – Captain America is on hand when the Hulkbusters finally capture their quarry at a ghost town in Nevada. As the soldiers secure the Hulk for transport to their specially-designed detention center, Cap is amazed to witness the jade giant’s transformation back into Bruce Banner. Nick Fury leaves abruptly, and Cap realizes his old friend has seemed unusually edgy lately. After exchanging pleasantries with General Ross, Cap joins Fury for an uncomfortable ride back to New York.

A couple days later, Iron Man unveils an advanced computer system called Nimrod by hosting a media event where the computer challenges a garrulous Soviet chess champion. Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Vision are also present. However, the chess-master, Comrade Sporadnik, collapses during the tournament and is rushed to the hospital, where Dr. Donald Blake determines that he has been poisoned. The Avengers track down the assassin—a balding middle-aged man—but he escapes by phasing through the floor. Suddenly, the heroes receive a vision that reveals that the assassin is an ordinary accountant named Leonard Tippit, who was recently granted superhuman powers by the omnipotent alien known as the Watcher. Tippit was charged with preventing a future nuclear holocaust by murdering five innocent people whose yet-unborn children would be responsible for the catastrophe. As the images fade, Thor assures his teammates that the Watcher is, in fact, real. Even so, the Avengers are unwilling to stand by while people are murdered. They split up, and Captain America and Hawkeye speed to Kenya, hoping to protect the daughter of a Maasai tribal chief. They arrive too late, though, for Tippit has already put the young woman into a coma. He easily evades the two Avengers and teleports away. After getting the victim to the nearest hospital, Cap and Hawkeye rendezvous with their teammates at Stark Industries. Soon, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch bring in the unconscious Tippit and strap him into the machine Iron Man has built to siphon off Tippit’s superhuman energies. As the device is activated, Tippit regains consciousness. Suddenly, the Watcher materializes in the room and reveals that it was Tippit, not his victims, who was a threat to the earth, and the murder scheme was just a ruse to force Tippit to travel the world and exhaust himself. The Avengers are angry at having been manipulated, but Tippit agrees to sacrifice himself to save the world. Before disappearing again, the Watcher assures the Avengers that the five victims will awaken tomorrow with no memory of their ordeal.

The Avengers head immediately to the New York County Courthouse, where the Hulk is being put on trial. The Hulk’s lawyer, Matt Murdock, calls Iron Man to the stand, but most of his testimony is stricken after the prosecutor objects to the Avengers’ presence. The judge agrees that the Avengers’ testimony has no bearing on the case. As such, the team returns to their headquarters. Some hours later, they learn that Mister Fantastic inadvertently enabled the Hulk to escape while trying to change him back into Bruce Banner. Cap is surprised that Reed Richards could be so careless.

The following evening, Captain America returns to Avengers Mansion for a late-night meeting to discuss a report from the new space station Starcore One that a group of UFOs is heading toward Earth from the sun. When he arrives, Cap learns that the Scarlet Witch has been attacked in Central Park and Quicksilver and the Vision have already gone to her aid. The rest of the team rushes into the park, where they find the Scarlet Witch is being kidnapped by one of the mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels. When the Avengers fail to stop the abduction, Quicksilver becomes hysterical and quits the team, vowing to rescue his sister singlehandedly. Returning to their headquarters, the Avengers spend the night trying to track down the Sentinels. They are soon contacted by Peter Corbeau, chief scientist for Starcore One, who reports they have detected an energy beam emanating from Australia that is destabilizing the sun and may cause solar flares powerful enough to wipe out all life on Earth. The Avengers race to the Australian outback, where they discover the energy beam is being fired from the Sentinels’ secret base. Fighting their way into the underground complex, the Avengers rescue the Scarlet Witch and defeat the Sentinels. Unfortunately, Larry Trask, the son of the man who created the Sentinels, is killed in the battle. The team then seals off the installation and makes its way back to New York.

Upon their return, the Avengers find that Quicksilver has vanished without a trace, prompting the Scarlet Witch to initiate a desperate search. Cap decides to head over to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters to enlist the agency’s help. When he arrives, however, Cap finds that Nick Fury is still angry with him for some reason. When Cap refuses Fury’s demand that he become an official S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Fury throws Cap out of the complex and forbids any of his agents to associate with him. Frustrated, Cap heads over to the police precinct, thinking about how Fury’s injunction against him throws up yet another impediment to his relationship with Sharon. After he’s changed into his patrolman’s uniform, Steve is informed by Sgt. Muldoon that he’s been assigned to a patrol car with a new partner, Officer Bob Courtney. Later, out on the streets, Steve spots Batroc the Leaper in civilian clothes and so, when his shift ends, he changes into Captain America and returns to the scene to find out what his old foe is up to. On the way, he stops in at Sam Wilson’s office, hoping to recruit the Falcon’s aid, but Sam says he’s busy with a kidnapping case of his own.

Cap finds Batroc and his seven muscular henchmen in a dilapidated dance studio, but the ensuing fight goes badly and Cap is pinned down by his foes. Batroc, being his usual gregarious self, reveals that he’s been employed to kidnap a number of children and hold them in suspended-animation capsules until his employer needs them. Outraged, Cap struggles to free himself. Luckily, the Falcon and Redwing smash through a window, turning the tide of the battle. Sensing imminent defeat, Batroc hits a panic button that causes his employer to materialize in their midst—a massive alien man called Jakar. After freezing everyone in their tracks with his mental abilities, Jakar explains that he needs the souls of the children to reanimate his own alien race, all of whom were left catatonic by a mysterious plague. Taking the children, Jakar then teleports away, freeing the others from the paralytic effect. Furious that he’s been duped into such a heinous scheme, Batroc heads off to track down Jakar, intent on restoring his tarnished honor. His henchmen prevent Cap and Falcon from immediately following him, but they are soon overcome. Redwing then leads the heroes to a cave in the cliffs along the Hudson River, where Cap and the Falcon reluctantly team up with Batroc to stop Jakar and rescue the children. Cap convinces Jakar that his people would be horrified by the manner in which he revived them, and so the alien abandons his plan and returns to outer space. Since the children are all from Harlem, the Falcon takes charge of the situation, so Cap heads back to his hotel. He is annoyed at the way Batroc was patting himself on the back for helping rescue the children, since he’d kidnapped them in the first place. After getting home, Steve is visited by Sharon, who explains that Val de La Fontaine has been flirting with him so much in order to make Fury jealous, since Fury has been spending so much time with the reformed HYDRA operative Laura Brown. Steve says Fury and the Contessa will have to sort out their own problems, then he and Sharon go to bed together. Later, Sharon mentions that she thought a pair of men had followed her there—presumably S.H.I.E.L.D. agents—but there’s no sign of them now.

Later, after Sharon has left, Steve goes for a walk. He stumbles across the Scorpion and Mister Hyde, who are intent on kidnapping Sharon. Having heard that the two villains were killed while fighting Daredevil several months ago, Steve is surprised to find them alive. He quickly changes back into Captain America and heads up to Harlem to recruit the Falcon’s help. Together, they head to Sharon’s Park Avenue townhouse, arriving just moments before the Scorpion and Mister Hyde. Their fight draws Sharon out of the building, allowing Mister Hyde to grab her and knock her out with a choke hold. With Sharon their hostage, the villains escape into the sewers. Nick Fury arrives on the scene and castigates Cap for violating the injunction against him interfering with S.H.I.E.L.D. business. Fed up with Fury’s attitude, Cap socks him in the jaw.

After several hours of searching for Sharon, Cap is frustrated that he has to report to the police precinct for his next shift. When he arrives, Steve is informed by Bob Courtney that Sgt. Muldoon has been suspended as part of an ongoing corruption investigation. Believing Muldoon to be a good cop, the two men speculate that he may have been framed. During their patrol, Steve spots Redwing and follows the bird into an alley, where the Falcon is waiting. Learning that the Falcon has a lead on Sharon’s whereabouts, Steve immediately changes into Captain America. Chafing against the restrictiveness of his job as a policeman, Cap leaves his uniform on top of a garbage can and sets off with the Falcon without a word of explanation to Courtney. Twenty minutes later, Cap and the Falcon find Sharon tied to a chair inside an abandoned warehouse. After a furious battle with the Scorpion and Mister Hyde, the two heroes manage to knock out their super-powered foes and rescue Sharon. Thoroughly exhausted, Cap, Sharon, and the Falcon head back to Steve’s hotel, where Nick Fury is waiting for them. Cap and Fury finally hash out their differences, which stem mainly from Fury’s jealousy over Cap’s youthful good looks and superhero glamor having turned the Contessa’s head. Luckily, the Contessa turns up and she and Fury are reconciled. Fury apologizes to Cap for blowing up at him. To everyone’s surprise, Sharon announces she’s quitting S.H.I.E.L.D., tired of her conflict between love and duty. Fury grudgingly accepts her choice, saying he’ll consider it an extended leave of absence rather than a resignation. Cap is delighted, and he and Sharon agree that the time has come for their long-delayed vacation.

The following morning, Steve calls in sick to the precinct, telling them he has the flu. Sam Wilson then drives Steve and Sharon to the airport, where she buys a pair of tickets to the Bahamas. When they arrive, Steve and Sharon check into a luxury hotel before changing into swimwear and going for a walk on the beach. The next day, they decide the area is too crowded with obnoxious tourists, so they rent a remote private beach on Mosca Cay where they can be totally incommunicado. Steve is curious as to how Sharon can afford all this, but she prefers not to talk about it.

The couple’s frolicking in the sand and surf is interrupted the next afternoon when Steve spots a young man who looks like Bucky Barnes. Though he’s given up hope of ever finding Bucky alive, Steve nevertheless follows the young man into a stand of palm trees, where he is ambushed and knocked out. When he comes to, Steve finds himself tied up in a cargo plane alongside Sharon and the Falcon. Glaring down at him is his own evil doppelgänger—the mysterious man who briefly served as Captain America in the mid-1950s before descending into madness. Bucky’s double proves to be the man’s sidekick from that era. While the man gives them a detailed account of the origins of his controversial tenure as Captain America, Steve works on loosening the ropes binding his wrists. He soon realizes that the man, having spent a decade in cryogenic storage, is unaware that he has captured the original Captain America, thinking Steve is only the latest version. Steve and the Falcon taunt their captor, deriding him for his rabid anticommunist stance and the inaccuracies in his costume design. Angered, the impostor joins his junior partner in the cockpit. As soon as the plane touches down just off the coast of Miami, Florida, Cap, Sharon, and the Falcon storm the cockpit and fight with their kidnappers. However, the impostor Captain America produces a disintegrator pistol and fires it at an approaching Coast Guard ship. While Cap and the Falcon are busy rescuing the sailors from the sinking ship, the impostors swim for shore. Cap’s doppelgänger challenges him to a showdown at the Torch of Friendship monument in one hour. Using an inflatable raft Sharon found on the cargo plane, the trio makes its way ashore and, after conferring with the local police department, heads for the monument in Bayfront Park. While Sharon and the Falcon deal with the faux-Bucky, Cap engages in a brutal battle with his deranged counterpart, whose super-strength gives him an advantage in close combat. Nevertheless, Cap is able to drive his foe into a frenzy by revealing that he is, in fact, the original Captain America whom the impostor once idolized. Unable to cope, the impostor drops his guard, enabling Cap to finally knock him out. Feeling pity for his foes more than anything else, Cap hopes a cure for their psychosis may one day be found.

Steve and Sharon return to the Bahamas to enjoy the rest of their vacation. Still, Steve broods about the chilling revelations his doppelgänger made, such as how the Nazis had stolen a copy of Abraham Erskine’s super-soldier formula just hours before it was successfully used in Operation Rebirth, only for it to be lost when the intelligence officer who received the report was killed in an explosion before he could open the dispatch. Thus, the key to a Nazi victory lay undiscovered in a file all through the war. Furthermore, without the vita-ray treatment that Steve received, the super-soldier serum alone caused his replacements to rapidly descend into paranoid psychosis, perhaps dooming all efforts to recreate the serum to failure. But most disturbing, perhaps, someone currently in the government revived the doppelgängers, knowing they were psychotic, because he shared their extremist beliefs.

On Halloween, Captain America stops in at Avengers Mansion and finds the Vision on monitor duty. The synthezoid seems very depressed, but their conversation is cut short when an angry Rick Jones bursts in, ranting about being left behind when the Avengers went to Australia. To prove that he doesn’t need superheroes to protect him anymore, Rick slams his metal wristbands together and is instantly replaced by Captain Marvel. Suddenly, Cap experiences a vivid flashback to over a year ago when he and Rick were fighting HYDRA agents in Drearcliff Cemetery. Moments after Madame Hydra was blown up by a missile barrage, a second wave of HYDRA goons appeared and attacked them. Cap is confused by these new memories, and Rick, who has reappeared, denies there having been any second wave of enemy agents. Concerned, Cap returns to the cemetery to see if he can jog any further memories and eventually recalls tracking the HYDRA agents to their secret lair on the Lower East Side. Heading back into Manhattan, Cap soon finds the hidden installation, verifying that his recovered memories are real. Being there triggers more memories of him and Rick fighting their way through more HYDRA agents and unmasking their leader, a different Supreme Hydra from the one Cap fought in Las Vegas. Though Cap can’t remember the man’s face, he assumes he must have been responsible for the memory blocks and thus won’t be expecting Cap to track him down.

November 1965 – While searching the HYDRA installation, Cap finds the Vision apparently conspiring against the Avengers with the Grim Reaper and the Space Phantom. After the Space Phantom has departed, though, the Vision goads the Grim Reaper into losing his temper, enabling Cap to catch the villain off-guard and knock him out. Cap is startled to see that the Grim Reaper has exhumed Wonder Man’s corpse and has preserved it within a large vacuum chamber. With the Vision’s help, Cap soon locates Iron Man, Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, and the Black Panther and frees them from the anti-gravity field in which they are trapped. The Avengers then storm through the underground complex and fight with a horde of HYDRA agents under the Space Phantom’s command—as it turns out, he was the Supreme Hydra in Cap’s suppressed memories. Unfortunately, the Space Phantom’s alien technology is able to subdue the Avengers, and they soon find themselves back within the anti-gravity field. The villains leave to hunt down the Scarlet Witch, who has escaped. The Vision explains that the Grim Reaper had offered to use the Space Phantom’s machines to transfer the Vision’s mind into Captain America’s body, in exchange for help destroying the Avengers. The synthezoid decided to play along until he could devise a plan to defeat the villains. Soon, the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper return, having captured the Scarlet Witch, Rick Jones, and Edwin Jarvis. The Space Phantom decides to assume Rick’s form while he kills the heroes, but is unexpectedly thrown back into Limbo due to Rick’s shared existence with Captain Marvel. Materializing in Rick’s place, the Kree-born superhero frees the Avengers, and they make short work of the HYDRA goons. The Grim Reaper surrenders, and he and his henchmen are all turned over to the authorities. When the team returns to Avengers Mansion, Cap is surprised to learn that the Vision and the Scarlet Witch have fallen in love.

Steve returns to work at the police precinct, but finds that Bob Courtney is now clearly suspicious of him. Frustrated that their working relationship has soured, Steve begins to question whether acting as a police officer is really the best use of his time. He also mulls over the implications of the Vision’s report that the Space Phantom was impersonating Madame Hydra last year when the Avengers were nearly buried alive in Drearcliff Cemetery. When Madame Hydra was seemingly killed in the explosion, the Space Phantom resumed his true form and just hid his alien features beneath the Supreme Hydra’s mask. This means, Cap realizes, that Madame Hydra may still be alive.

Sometime later, Steve is shocked by reports that Hank and Janet Pym have apparently died in a house fire, but Ant-Man soon turns up alive, fighting with a supervillain called Doctor Nemesis in the lower levels of Avengers Mansion. When his foe is defeated, Ant-Man leads Captain America, Iron Man, the Black Panther, and the Vision to rescue the Wasp from a secret A.I.M. installation on Long Island. The Avengers then invite the Pyms to return to active duty, but they decline, saying they prefer their private lives.

December 1965 – Captain America is summoned to a clandestine meeting with Police Commissioner Broderick at a precinct house in Hell’s Kitchen, where they discuss the ongoing police corruption investigation. The commissioner reports that they’ve learned the bribes are part of an organized effort led by a mystery man known as the “Cowled Commander” and asks Cap to discover the criminal mastermind’s true identity. The meeting is cut short when a bomb goes off, causing the building to collapse. Cap soon finds the bomber fighting the Falcon on a nearby rooftop. Calling himself the Viper, the costumed villain poisons the Falcon, then uses the antidote as a bargaining chip to ensure his escape. However, before slipping away, the Viper hits Cap with a poison dart as well. Luckily, Cap is able to reach the antidote in time and saves both their lives. While the Falcon and Redwing set off in pursuit of the Viper, Cap goes to visit Brian Muldoon at home, feeling the disgraced cop might be a key witness against the Cowled Commander.

There, Cap listens patiently as the disgruntled Muldoon outlines his theory that the Cowled Commander is really Patrolman Steve Rogers. Realizing he can hardly fault Muldoon for his suspicions, Cap tries to convince him to go into hiding until the Cowled Commander is captured. Muldoon refuses to be chased out of his home, so Cap leaves with a renewed determination to clear Muldoon’s name and get him reinstated. On the way back to his hotel, Cap stops to break up a bank robbery, discovering that the Viper’s anti-venom has somehow interacted with the super-soldier serum to radically increase his strength, though it’s also giving him headaches and nausea. Arriving at the hotel, Steve is informed by the unscrupulous manager that his room has been searched by the police. Frustrated and feeling ill, Steve goes for a walk, only to be kidnapped by Muldoon and Courtney, who plan to torture him into confessing to being the Cowled Commander.

As soon as he’s left alone in the room, Steve breaks free and escapes. He changes back into Captain America and follows the sound of police sirens uptown to the diamond district, where he finds the Eel, the Plantman, the Porcupine, and the Scarecrow pulling a heist at the behest of the Cowled Commander. During the fight, the Falcon and Redwing arrive, though the evil quartet nevertheless manages to escape. While Cap is conferring with Commissioner Broderick outside, they are joined by Muldoon and Courtney, as well as Sharon and Leila. Sharon insists on joining the search for the villains, but Cap forbids it, insisting that it’s too dangerous. Leaving her behind, Cap and the Falcon take to the rooftops as Redwing leads them to their foes’ hideout. On the way, Falcon reports having learned that the Viper is really an advertising executive named Jordan Dixon, who is apparently the Eel’s brother. Finding all five costumed criminals in a warehouse, Cap and the Falcon storm in and attack them, only to be choked into unconsciousness by one of Plantman’s giant animated plant-monsters. When they come to, the two heroes find themselves in the Cowled Commander’s gas chamber, with the masked mob boss gloating on a video monitor. The Cowled Commander informs Cap and the Falcon that their four friends—whom they assume to be Sharon, Leila, Muldoon, and Courtney—will be killed next. Enraged, Cap uses his newfound super-strength to tear the heavy steel door off its hinges, and they make short work of the Eel, the Plantman, the Porcupine, the Scarecrow, and the Viper. Falcon then tackles the Cowled Commander and rips off his mask, revealing him to be Brian Muldoon. Cap finds Sharon, Leila, and Courtney bound and gagged inside a closet and frees them. As the authorities arrive on the scene, Muldoon claims he was just trying to strengthen the police department by weeding out those prone to corruption and giving the remaining force a colorful enemy to rally against, but Cap and the Falcon are not convinced.

Sharon is furious at having been left behind when Cap and the Falcon went after the Cowled Commander and his costumed henchmen, so she declines to accompany Steve to the Avengers’ Fourth Annual Christmas Charity Benefit. When the Falcon isn’t interested in attending either, Cap goes to the party alone. Depressed and disillusioned by Muldoon’s betrayal of the police force, Steve decides to give up playing the rookie cop. He decides to focus on just being Captain America again, and devotes himself to a revised training regimen that takes his new super-strength into account.


Notes:

January 1965 – While searching for the Falcon’s missing friend, Captain America and his partner are drawn into a Lovecraftian mystery in Avengers #88. Recruiting help from his Avengers teammates, Cap leads them into a fight with the insectoid creature Psyklop, who has kidnapped the Hulk. Realizing he is outnumbered, Psyklop teleports the Avengers to the New York City subway platform, erasing their memories of the entire affair. Iron Man’s odd behavior is due to him being mind-controlled by Shara-Lee and the White Dragon, as shown in Iron Man #39, in which Cap and the Falcon briefly appear. Cap’s adventures then continue in Captain America #139 and following. The Avengers are seen watching coverage of Lionel Dibbs’ riot in San Francisco at the beginning of the Inhumans story in Amazing Adventures #8. Captain America joins with the Avengers to fight the Skrulls in Avengers #93–94. For more on President Morris Richardson, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three.

February 1965 – The Avengers are drawn into the Kree-Skrull War across Avengers #94–97. Captain America then makes a brief appearance in Iron Man #44, getting into a misunderstanding fight with the original Guardsman, Kevin O’Brien. The Avengers foil Ares’ scheme of interdimensional conquest in Avengers #98–100.

March 1965 – Towards the end of the month, Captain America finds himself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened.

May 1965 – In the real world, embattled police commissioner Michael J. Murphy resigned at this point and was replaced by Judge Vincent L. Broderick. Thus, although they are drawn to look the same, the Police Commissioner who appears in Captain America #139–143 is actually a different guy than is seen in Captain America #157–159.

July 1965 – In Captain America #147–148, Howard Hughes is fictionalized as “Harold Howard,” though he makes no actual appearance. The Red Skull’s escape from the Fifth Sleeper is shown in flashback in Captain America #185. Cap makes a cameo appearance in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #100, which is set in the present day rather than World War II.

October 1965 – Captain America is on hand for the Hulk’s capture in Hulk #152. The Avengers then face the threat of Leonard Tippit in Avengers #101. Later that same day, the team appears at the Hulk’s trial, as depicted in Hulk #153. This is followed immediately by the Sentinels story in Avengers #102–104. Android duplicates of the Scorpion and Mister Hyde were destroyed in Daredevil #83, leading to the belief that the two villains were dead. For more on the Captain America and Bucky of the 1950s, see OMU: Ancient History 4. Captain America has flashbacks to his battles with Madame Hydra’s terrorist cell in Avengers #106–107.

November 1965 – Captain America joins the Avengers’ battle against the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper in Avengers #108. Cap then appears in Marvel Feature #10 for the conclusion of Ant-Man’s brief revival series.

December 1965 – This brings us up to Captain America #159.


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