As time as passed, the simple blind patriotism has faded and led to more complex characters that have evolved with the times. Today, on the anniversary of America’s independence, we take a look back at some heroes and even some villains who have proudly worn the red, white and blue.
While there are many we don’t have the chance to look at below such as the Flag, Liberty Bell, the Shield or even the Spirit of 76, we look at all those heroes and what they stood for, the men and women who helped give us the freedom to be able to live in a land where these characters actually exist.
Many people have donned the Captain America shield in the past. Clint Barton, Sam Wilson, John Walker, Bucky Barnes and even the Daily Show’s Steven Colbert, none have been more iconic than Steve Rogers. A scrawny kid from the lower east side of Manhattan, Rogers repeatedly attempted to join the armed forces leading up to World War II but was rejected due to his size.
Army General Chester Phillips saw Roger’s determination and offered him an opportunity to be a part of Operation: Rebirth, a procedure created by doctor Abraham Erskine. The project had a nearly 100% mortality rate but Rogers accepted anyway in hopes to fight for his country. The process was a success but Erskine was killed by a Nazi spy leaving only one true Captain America.
After fighting Nazi’s and punching Hitler in the face, Captain America would eventually be lost for over a decade when on a mission he was lost in an explosion over the ocean only to be discovered encased in ice by the founding Avengers. Revealed to be alive due to the Super Soldier Serum in his veins, Rogers would be thawed out and took back his place as one of the most iconic heroes in comics history.
Though not always agreeing with his government, Rogers would do what was needed to keep his country safe. Now, Rogers acts as the nation’s top cop as his old sidekick Bucky dons the shield. Though with the release of the Captain America movie this month and Bucky’s fate in the most recent issue of Fear Itself being unclear, it seems like only a matter of time before Steve Rogers once again calls himself Captain America.
During the event’s of Marvel’s Dark Reign, Norman Osborn had created a new alter ego for himself under the guise of the Iron Patriot, a combination of the symbolism of Captain America and the technology of Iron Man, two of the most iconic Avengers members. When the public still hasn’t fully accepted Norman and his new Dark Avengers, he decides his team needs a better representation of Captain America and offers the role to his own son Harry Osborn.
Norman blackmails his son Harry into accepting the role even though Norman ultimately plans to let his son die in a freak accident which will garner sympathy for Norman and his Dark Avengers. Harry ultimately sees through his father’s plans and uses Norman’s old technology against him and leaving the American Son role behind him.
Harry Osborn wouldn’t be the only American Son as the suit would come back under the control of Gabriel Stacy. The illegitimate child of Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy created during JMS’s convoluted “Sins Past” storyline in 2004, Gabriel is able to don the armor due to his Osborn bloodline and attempts to win his father’s favor by eliminating Harry Osborn. After being defeated by both Harry and Spider-Man, Gabriel is sent to a psychiatric institution where he receives a package from Norman with the armor and a note telling him that he loves and misses his son.
In the early days of Image, Erik Larsen created the Super Patriot alongside the Savage Dragon. The Super Patriot was a World War II soldier named Johnny Armstrong who had been captured by the Nazis and experimented on. Gaining superhuman powers, Johnny escaped the facility he was created in and destroyed it so the Nazis couldn’t replicate what they had done to him.
Super Patriot would continue fighting the good fight until a new breed of villain popped up in the 90s where he was savagely targeted and attacked by Mako, who bit off Super Patriot’s limbs and much of his face. In an effort to save Super Patriot’s life, the Cyberdata corporation turns him into a cyborg which leaves him mentally unstable, leading to multiple clashes with the Savage Dragon. Eventually, Super Patriot is able to regain his original memories and put his powers to good again, joining the Chicago based Freak Force.
Super Patriot is seen often in the pages of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible where his wife has become a trusted confidant of Invincible’s mother, helping her deal with being an unpowered being married to and being the parent of a superhero.
Everyone knows Uncle Sam, the government poster boy that points out to passersby from his poster that America needs them. But this isn’t the only incarnation of the character. In 1940, one of the founding fathers of comics, Will Eisner, created Uncle Sam for National Comics #1. This version of Uncle Sam was the spirit of a slain Revolutionary War soldier who came back for his country in its time of need.
Once Quality Comics was purchased by DC, Uncle Sam went through some changes being put on the Justice League at one point as well as being the leader of the Freedom Fighters. His origin was also rewritten where he was instead a spirit created by occult activities of America’s founding fathers.
Uncle Sam was most recently seen in Blackest Night where he helps fend off the hordes of the undead heroes including members of his Freedom Fighters team killed during Infinite Crisis.
Nuke was one of those characters that never had a chance from the day he was born. Born as the child of an abusive, upper class family, Frank Sampson falls in love with his babysitter. The babysitter, using Frank’s affection for her, convinces him to kill his own mother. Wolverine, as a Weapon Plus operative, kidnaps the young Sampson after killing the girlfriend and seeing the father commit suicide with the same gun.
Years later, Wolverine would torture and eventually program Sampson during the Vietnam war, even going so far as carving the American flag into Sampson’s face. Eventually, the Nuke personality was created during the Weapon VII program and used red, white and blue pills to help control his mental instability.
Nuke most recently was found out to be Scourge on Norman Osborn’s black op Thunderbolts team. During the Siege of Asgard, Scourge and US Agent cross paths and Nuke uses the Spear of Odin to cut off US Agent’s left limbs only to be subsequently shot in the face by his teammate Paladin. The injury puts Nuke into a coma and he is transferred to the Raft maximum security prison, where John Walker (the former US Agent) has been made warden.