So You Want to Read... Captain America (Avengers: Endgame Edition)
So, you just saw Avengers: Endgame and the movie has made you want to check a few things out in Marvel’s back catalog. That’s perfectly normal, and Marvel has a ton of things you may want to check out. So, spoilers are going to be around for Endgame, but we’ll avoid anything other than what the comics have that might pique your interest.
If you read beyond here, you will be spoiled on some key events of the movie. Turn back now if you’ve not seen the movie yet.
Everyone else here see the movie, or doesn’t care? Good.
Since covering every single freaking thing that Endgame has referenced or used would make for an article the size of Endgame’s script, we’re going to be breaking this down by characters and themes. This time, Captain America gets the focus.
The first significant event in Endgame that has some serious links to Marvel Comics is the Captain America vs. Captain America sequence from the 2012 Time Heist segment. This actually was used in the comics at one point, back in 1972. This stems from Marvel’s first arguable retcon: Captain America being frozen in ice in 1945 while his comics continued to be published until 1952. There was a surprisingly simple answer, brought up by new Captain America writer Steve Engelhart. Drawn by Sal Buscema with inks by Jim Mooney and lettering by Jon Costa, this epic tale goes across Captain America issues 153 to 156.
You see, when Cap went into the ice and Bucky allegedly died, then an agent of the US Government discovered the lost recipe of the super soldier serum in an old book. From there, he made a bootleg Super Soldier serum, which had an unfortunate side effect. It drove both Cap and Bucky insane and made them see Communist spies everywhere. Put into cryogenic stasis by the US Government, they were basically forgotten about for decades. The story is a real thriller and has some great action by Sal Buscema. It’s well worth checking out as either individual issues digitally, the Essential Captain America volume 3, or the Marvel Epic Collection “Hero or Hoax.” All of these are easy to find, with the Essential collection admittedly out of print, and are well worth reading.
Another great moment was Captain America lifting the Hammer of Thor for one of the most beautiful one-on-one fights of the movie. This has been done in the comics, but rarely. The biggest comes from the event Fear Itself, where Thor has fallen, the Avengers are shattered, and the evil forces of the Serpent are running wild on the Earth. Of course, Cap is Worthy and can use the hammer like a madman. Fear Itself had multiple problems that we’ll cover eventually in the Marvel at 80 articles, but it was worth reading for that moment alone.
Finally, there was Steve Rogers’ farewell. Having gone back in time to put the Infinity Stones (and Mjolnir) back where they belong, Steve stayed behind to stick around with Peggy Carter and live out a life with her. The beautiful scene ends with Steve handing the shield down to Sam Wilson. This has happened with Captain America in the comics, twice. Once with Bucky, once with Sam Wilson.
Bucky’s time as Captain America comes from the impressive run by Ed Brubaker. With Captain America killed off by the Red Skull’s machinations, Bucky would take up the shield with pragmaticism until Steve would come back again just in time for his first movie to hit the big screen. Fans of Black Widow will also have a blast with this run, as she was also a significant part of it. Brubaker’s series began with the Winter Soldier’s original storyline and is a fantastic run for anyone who was a fan of the MCU Captain America movies.
Meanwhile, Sam Wilson’s time was more recent. Back at the end of Rick Remender’s stellar 2013 run on Captain America. Drained of his super soldier serum by supervillain Iron Claw and Arnim Zola, Cap chooses to hand his shield down to Sam Wilson to take the lead as Captain America. This would prove to be incredibly controversial with hardline comic fans who hate diversity in their comics, and author Nick Spencer would ultimately take time to address this in the book. Sam Wilson would even become an unauthorized Captain America when he would take sides on illegal immigration, and would eventually hand the Shield back when Steve Rogers got restored through comics magic. Luckily, Sam Wilson’s time comes under the self-titled Captain America: Sam Wilson.
If you’re looking for some great comics featuring Captain America, Bucky, and Sam, these are some great places to start. The World of Marvel has a ton of excellent stories waiting for you across its own 80 years of comics, and it can seem daunting. Luckily, all you need to do is find a place to start with what interests you.