In the12-issue series, Avengers Forever (1998-99, Kurt Busiek), Captain America and several fellow Avengers past, present, and future are drawn through time by perenial foe Kang the Conqueror to help him fight his own future self, Immortus. Brought from just after the “Secret Empire” storyline in 1975 (between #175-176), after which he gave up the CA role for a brief time, Cap is shown throughout the story to have lost the resolve and confidence that has made him such an iconic hero.
(cover art by Carlos Pacheco, Jesus Merino, Steve Oliff, Tony Kelly, John Roshell)
In the midst of an early battle (#1), the unusual assembly of Avengers “turn to Captain America for some sign, some decision . . .” only to find confusion and inaction. In this time-and-space spanning epic, Cap & Co. encounter alternate universes (and alternate versions of Avengers) in which the team’s “evolution” has had a negative impact on human history. These anomalous time streams are the result of Kang’s meddling, and a mysterious group of three “Time Keepers” are determined to eliminate them (and Kang). This group of Avengers has been assembled by Kang to help keep this from happening.
Among the alternate “versions” of Cap that appear in Avengers Forever are the “Shieldsmen” of the Galactic Avenger Battalion (#1); a shield-wielding Kilraven (#4, with Cap’s then-new photonic shield); and a great host of alternate Avengers who appear in the climactic battle of #12:
- Captain Assyria from Earth-9105, where Egypt rose to world dominance after Moses’ death, ultimately founding “The United States of Assyria.” (New Warriors #11-13, 1991)
- A Kree CA from the Avengers of Earth-31955, a future where the Kree and Brood have conquered Earth. (FF vol. 3 #16, April 1999)
- American Dream from Earth-982 (a.k.a. “MC2”; see more below)
Throughout the history of the Marvel Universe (and beyond), dozens of variant visions and versions of the Living Legend have appeared. The following list is a work-in-progress; it does not include those from Earth-616 who have actually served as Captain America (William Naslund, Jeff Mace, William Burnside, Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson); nor does it include others who have been transformed by the Super-Soldier Serum such as Isaiah Bradley and Clint McIntyre, since all have been subjects of previous posts. More details (and visuals) of all these characters can be found at http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Marvel_Database
- Unnamed rebel leader on Earth-8862 modeled after Cap in CA Annual #6 (1982)
- Vance Astro/Major Victory of Earth-691’s 31st C. Guardians of the Galaxy uses Cap’s surviving shield as a symbol to rally resistance to Badoon domination (GofG vol. 1, beginning in 1990). He ultimately adopts a Cap-esque costume in GofG #20 (1992).
- Commander America of Earth-90110, one of the “Cosmic Avengers” of a reality in which the Vision conquered Earth. (What If? vol. 2 #19, 1990 and #36, 1992)
- Earth-355’s CA from the Gatherers story in Avengers #355 (1992)
- Infinity War doppleganger from CA #408 (1992)
- On Earth-928 of the future (depicted in the “2099” series of comics), a cloned version of Captain America becomes president after Doom’s fall (Doom 2099 #33-35 and 2099 Apocalypse, both 1995). This reality’s “real” CA/Steve Rogers was discovered in suspended animation in 3099 and was given Thor’s hammer, turning him into something of a CA/Thor amalgam (2099 Manifest Destiny, 1998)
- “Super-Soldier,” a CA/Superman fusion, is featured in Almagam Comics Super-Soldier #1 (April 1996) and Super Soldier, Man of War #1 (June 1997), both published by DC in the aftermath of the famed 4-issue 1996 Marvel vs. DC crossover event.
- Young Peter Parker imagined himself as Cap on the cover of ASM -1 (1997)
- A “Nazi Cap” (and Bucky) appear in one panel in Ultraverse/Avengers #1 (1995)
- Captain America, Jr. appears in one panel of Unlimited Access #4 (1998)
- “Old Cap” from the Earth-X, Universe X, Pardise X series (1999-2002). In a future where all of humanity had been given super powers by a release of Terrigen Mists, “Old Cap” is on a quest to restore humanity. He wears a flag toga-style and is bald with creases (or scars) on his forehead that resemble the letter “A.” Ultimately he was transformed into a member of the Avenging Host, with feathered wings growing his back, his skin turned blue and white, and his face was marked with the letter “A.”
- Primax, or “Jaromel,” who takes the lead of a resistance movement initiated by Cap against the tyranny of Korvak in the 31st Century (CA vol. 3 #18, 1999)
- Shannon Carter (niece of Sharon) is the CA of Earth-982 (MC2), where Marvel heroes emerged decades earlier than on Earth-616. The original Avengers (including this reality’s Cap) have all either died or retired by the mid-1990s and are being replaced by younger versions of the original members. Shannon first appeared as American Dream in A-Next #4-12 (1999). Along with others of the “A-Next” team, she is transported into yet another alternate Earth, where she finds the original Captain America (see more below) of her world. He and his fellow Avengers had traveled there years before to stop an invasion, a mission that cost many team members’ lives. That Earth’s version of Cap has been killed, and Earth-982 Cap stayed behind to take his place. At the end of this story, Earth-982 Cap gives the shield of the deceased Cap of that world to Shannon, who takes it back with her to her own alternate Earth. American Dream appears in many subsequent “MC2” comics, including several issues of Spider-Girl, Avengers Next, and her own American Dream title (2008). She also appears in Captain America Corps (5 issues, 2011).
- The U.N. “Bannermen” that appear in Marvel Boy vol 2 #2 (2000) seem to be modeled on Captain America but augmented to display Hulk-like powers.
- A robotic version of Cap is depicted on the cover of The Ultron Imperative (2001), but it does not appear in the story.
- Steve Rogers of Earth-1610 became Captain America in 1942 and was lost on a mission in Iceland in 1945. In this universe Bucky, who was a childhood buddy of Steve’s, is a U.S. Army propaganda journalist who follows Cap on his missions to promote “the symbol.” Cap is found “on ice” in “the present” and integrated into SHIELD’s “Ultimates” team (along with Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and later Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch; led by Nick Fury). At the time of Steve’s revival, Bruce Banner has been working recreating the super-soldier serum for 8 years, which resulted in his becoming the Hulk of this universe. Steve finds his parents have died (father in 1954, mother in 1967), as well as both of his brothers. Bucky, still alive, is married to Steve’s wartime sweetheart Gail. (Ultimates #1-6, 2002). This version of Cap will over time be a much rougher, darker version of the Living Legend (but he’s seen as such a resolute leader he is elected President during a time of national crisis!). Ironically, the “Ultimates” universe eventually became a major influence on the look and feel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (particularly with its black Nick Fury), but Steve Rogers of the MCU is more like that of the original MU.
- Josiah X is the son of “Black Captain America” Isaiah Bradley. He is a minister of the Nation of Islam and is enhanced due his having been conceived after Isaiah received a version of the Super-Soldier Serum. He wears the top of Bradley’s stolen CA uniform under his clothes; the chain mail acts as a protective vest (Crew 1-6, 2003-04).
- Earth-982 CA returned to his home world in Spider-Girl #58 (May 2003) and also is featured prominently in Last Hero Standing (5 issues, 2005, DeFalco). This reality’s Steve Rogers is in character very much like our own, but seems to have not experienced the same “lost years” in suspended animation after WWII (“a twist of fate transported him into the modern age of heroes”). He’s much older and is dealing with slowed reflexes and loss of stamina. Much of this series focuses on his reluctant acceptance of the inevitable need to stand down, but not, of course, until he himself is “the last hero standing.” Joining forces with the young Next Avengers and his old friend, Thor, to battle Loki’s attempt to destroy this Earth, he confesses before the final battle, “That’s why I have decided this will be my last mission. I intend to surrender my shield and retire as soon as it’s over.” Instead, he falls in the final issue, and memorialized by Thor by being transformed into a new constellation with a familiar shield-shaped aura around the central star.
- Steve Rogers of Earth-460 is from an alternate future in which the Purple Man has become “President for Life” and has hunted down and killed most super-humans. Unable to be killed, the captured Rogers is sent to late 16th Virginia of Earth-616, where he assumes the guise of native-American “Rojhaz.” As such, he becomes the protector of the struggling Roanoke Colony and young Virginia Dare. He is sent back to his own future because his presence in the past is causing multiversal destruction (Marvel 1602, 2003-04).
- What If . . . Jessica Jones had joined the Avengers? (Feb. 2005) diverges from a point when Nick Fury offered Jessica a job as Avengers liason to SHIELD (Alias 26, 2003, which she declined). In this alternate world, she accepted the offer and ultimately became romantically involved with and married that world’s Steve Rogers.
- “House of M” Steve Rogers became CA, survived WW II, gave up the uniform when Senate Hearings on Mutant Activity violated his commitment to civil rights. He became an astronaut (1st man on the moon) and is an old man in H of M. (CA #10, Oct. 2005).
- Elijah Bradley, grandson of “Black Captain America” Isaiah Bradley, follows in his grandfather’s footsteps as the Patriot (beginning in Young Avengers #1, 2005)
- Colonel America of Earth-2149 (throughout various Marvel Zombies titles, 2006-09)
- What If? (2007) Civil-War era Steve Rogers becomes a CA-type hero after being brought back from near death by a Native American healer (his look reflects native themes)
- In What If? Avengers Disassembled (2006), Captain America assisted the Scarlet Witch in the “disassembling” of the Avengers. Their love affair in the “real” world serves as a catalyst for their combining her power and his idealism to remake the world. It is also inferred that his time “on ice” left him mentally unstable.
- Captain America: the Chosen (6 issues, 2007, David Morrell) takes place in an alternate reality (Earth-7116), which in most respects is identical to Earth-616 continuity. But in this world, the super soldier serum has been breaking down in Cap’s system over the years since “Operation Rebirth,” bringing him “now” (sometime after the events of Sept. 11, 2001) near death. Cap volunteers for a secret project that allows him to psychically project his image into the field and connect with particular individuals to help them in time of great need. A soldier in Afghanistan wonders how long he can sustain the strength, courage and determination needed . . . . Cap appears: “To fight the enemies of freedom? To fight hate? You want to know how long we can keep doing this? As long as we’re able to lift a finger. As long as we can draw breath.”
- In What If? Civil War (Feb. 2008) there are two alternate-world versions of CA. One revisioning has Cap leading the resistence to the Registration Act in opposition to Henry Gyrich, rather than Tony Stark, who had been killed by his Extremis injection. In this world, Cap wears a suit of armor crafted by his old friend. A second story has Cap and Iron Man coming together to fight the Thor clone, which prevents the death of Bill Foster. Sobered, Stark asks Cap to lead an Avengers Initiative that will monitor and train registered super-humans.
- In What If? Fallen Son (Feb. 2009) Steve Rogers is not assassinated after the Civil War, is convicted of treason, and sent to the “Project 42” Prison in the negative zone.
- A Skrull imposter Cap appears in the Secret Invasion series (2008-09), as well as a Cap-themed Super-Skrull warrior.
- “Old Soldier” in Squadron Supreme #1-4 (2008, Ultimate Comics)
- Mark Millar’s Image Comics series, War Heroes (3 issues, 2008), echoes super-soldier themes in a “War on Terror” context where volunteers are given super-power through drug enhancement. Dialogue in this story makes reference to a volunteer being thought of as “Captain Fucking America” by his brother. Perhaps in this “world” there are fictional Captain America comics that lead to the reference?
- On Earth-9904 the Avengers were formed in the 1950s under the leadership of Jimmy Woo (What If? #9, June 1978). The five-issue Atlas series (2010) revisited this reality, uncovering a world in which the “Atlas” Avengers became the foundation of Avengers for decades to come (including a version of Cap, depicted in Atlas #4).
- In What If #200 (Siege, 2011) Norman Osborn’s forces prevail during the Siege of Asgard and the Sentry decapitates Captain America (Steve Rogers), leading the remaining heroes to lose hope and ultimately into a world that is consumed by the Void.
- A Red Skull imposter stopped by the “1959 Avengers” had created “his own Captain America” by combining versions of the Infinity Formula and S-S Serum (NAv 11-12, 2011); in the present, Nick Fury uses the same serum to save the life of Mockingbird
- Mark Waid’s wonderful 5-issue limited series, CA: Man Out Of Time (2011) reinterprets the basic elements of Cap’s modern-day revival as if it happened in contemporary times. After setting up the basic scenario of Cap & Bucky serving in WWII, seemingly dying near its end. The original Avengers (in their original uniforms!) discover Cap and bring him to NYC, where the same basic story as Avengers # 4 begins to unfold—until Cap is shot trying to stop a mugging. Hopes that Doom’s time machine (now in FF hands) can return him are dashed when President (Obama?) refuses to let Cap go back. An encounter with Kang, who recognizes he’s from a different time, results in Cap’s being sent back anyway, only to discover he no longer fits in there, either. He ultimately returns to the “present” and makes peace with his situation.
- E-61112 Commander Rogers (and all other Assembled Avengers) exist in an alternate dystopian version of E-616 created by the Age of Ultron event (Avengers 12.1, 2011)
- Commander A (Kiyoshi Morales) is the CA of 25th-C Earth-11831, where a Fascist state uses the CA legend to control the population. In this future, the “Anti-Cap” from the 2004-05 CA&F series has become “Major America.” (Captain America Corps, 5-issues, 2011)
- E-11051 CA is Elijah Bradley, who, along with many of the original Young Avengers, serves Kang as older adults in an alternate future Earth. He is apparently married to Samantha Wilson Bradley (Sam Wilson’s daughter?) who is now the Falcon. Their son, Steve Wilson Bradley, is now Bucky. (Av:ChildCru YA, 2011)
- E-11080 CA is Steve Rogers in an alternate near future where a pandemic infection has turned most humans into canibals. This reality has the same history and characters as E-616 but diverges at some point in the not-too-distant “contemporary past.” This CA leads the Avengers’ efforts to stop the infection’s spread, but when he “turns” himself, he is killed by the Punisher. (Marvel Universe vs. the Punisher; MU vs. Wolverine; MU vs. The Avengers (2011-13).
- Earth-TRN193 Steve Rogers becomes a Cap-esque Deathlok (X-Factor 231, 2012)
- Major Liberty appears (and dies) in a memory of an WW II scene experienced by the Human Torch in All-New Invaders #1 (March 2014). The cover of #4 features a Kree warrior-styled version of Cap (not in the story; the image is yet to be given context).
- An alternate reality Frank Castle is convinced by that world’s Illuminati to don the suit in an “Age of Ultron” What If? story (WI? AofU #4, June 2014). In this world, Cap is dead when found by the original Avengers. “The hero America expected to save it was officially gone. And those heroes they did have betrayed them. At a certain point, the American spirit was deflated. Who did they aspire toward with their heroes gone?” The final panel of this story depicts a post-Castle “Captain AmeriCorps” with an American Dream-styled leader and members who appear spider-manish, alien, and other variations.
- All-New Invaders #9 (Oct. 2014) features “every Deathlok in the MU” including one which is a version of CA
- General America of Earth-14235, which was destroyed by multiversal incursions. He was brought by A.I.M with his fellow Avengers to Earth-616 (Avengers #25, 2014), then later sent by A.I.M. (#28) to another Earth and presumably died in a subsequent incursion.
- Roberta Mendez is the CA of Battleworld’s 2099 domain. When subject to certain control words by her Alchemax handlers, she shifts from her civilian identity to CA without being aware of the distinction between personas (Secret Wars 2099, 2015)
- Samantha Wilson is the CA of Earth-65, an alternate world where Gwen Stacy was bitten by a radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker. Being an African-American woman, she was denied the chance to serve in WW II but became a pilot in the U.S. Civil Air Patrol. She was given her chance “to make a difference when Peggy Carter, an agent of the newly-formed SSR, offered her the opportunity as a Project: Rebirth candidate. During a battle with that Earth’s Baron Zemo, she was trapped in an alternate dimension for 75 years, finally returning to resume her career. (Spider-Gwen vol 2 #1-6, 2015-16)
- Danielle Cage, daughter of Jessica Drew and Luke Cage, is the CA of Earth-15061 (20XX; mid-21st C) in the 3-issue Utron Forever Series (2015) and New Avengers vol. 4 #5-6 (2016)
(cover by Oscar Jimenez)