In Marvel’s ongoing crossover “Secret Empire,” Captain America has been turned into a covert Hydra operative and appointed Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. While the Hydra sleeper agent Steve Rogers is a far cry from the Avengers’ patriotic past, it’s not the first time readers have seen a wildly different version of Captain America. With the symbolic role Captain America has played in the history of the Marvel Universe, almost every alternate reality has had its own version of the Sentinel of Liberty.
Now, CBR is taking a look at some of the strangest alternate versions of Captain America. For this list, we’re highlighting some of the odder versions of Captain America or Steve Rogers from the many parallel worlds and alternate timelines of the Marvel Comics Multiverse. Despite their differences, these disparate takes on Captain America speak to the strength of the character’s iconography in both the Marvel Universe and the real world.
15. ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA
With regular appearances for over a decade, Ultimate Captain America was one of the most visible alternate reality versions of the character. After being frozen at the end of his WWII adventures, this Captain America was thawed out in 2002’s “The Ultimates” #2, by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. In this modern day reboot, Captain America quickly became one of the Ultimate Universe’s most trusted heroes and led the Ultimates, that world’s Avengers.
While Ultimate Captain America shared a lot with his Marvel Universe counterpart, this Steve Rogers was more cynical, more violent and considerably stronger than the original. After a decade of attacks, anti-mutant hysteria and disasters, this world’s United States was on the brink of civil war. In 2012’s “Ultimate Comics Ultimates” #15, by Sam Humphries and Luke Ross, Captain America was elected President of the United States after a nationwide write-in campaign. After a short term, he resigned and ultimately died fending off an attack from the Marvel Universe’s Galactus.
14. DANIELLE CAGE
In several possible future timelines, the children of the current generation of superheroes have carried on their parents’ heroic mantles. Although Captain America’s children James Rogers and American Dream both wielded his shield in their respective worlds, Danielle Cage became her world’s official Captain America. Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos in 2006’s “The Pulse” #13, the young daughter of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage has grown up around Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the Marvel Universe.
In 2015’s “Avengers: Ultron Forever,” Al Ewing and Alan Davis introduced another, older Danielle Cage from the mysterious year 20XX. With the super-strength and durability of both of her parents, Cage’s Captain America wielded a shield that responded to her voice commands. After working with a team of time-tossed Avengers to defeat a future incarnation of Ultron, Cage and her world’s A.V.E.N.G.E.R.S. Initiative traveled to the modern Marvel Universe to defeat the space wizard Moridun. More recently, she traveled to the modern Marvel Universe again in pursuit of her nemesis, the Golden Skull on a recent adventure in the pages of “U.S.Avengers.”
13. AGE OF X
In the wake of the 2012 crossover “Avengers vs. X-Men,” Captain America formed the Avengers Unity Division to help reach out to the Marvel’s mutant community. Just a year earlier, one of his alternate reality counterparts was part of a never-ending assault on mutants. In the 2011 crossover “Age of X,” the mutant Legion created a world where heightened anti-mutant sentiment led to a decimation of the mutant population.
In Si Spurrier and Khoi Pham’s “Age of X: Universe,” Captain America led a team of mutant-hunting Avengers that included the Invisible Woman and a decaying Iron Man. In that team’s final mission, Captain America led an attack on Fortress X. a fortified base where the last of that world’s mutants had gathered. After he killed Mystique and saw that she was protecting a group of children, he had a change of heart and died trying to kill the Hulk, who was carrying a biological bomb. Shortly after that, Legion defeated the wayward personality that made him create this reality and restored the Marvel Universe as it was.
12. MARVEL ZOMBIES
In the world of “Marvel Zombies,” Marvel’s biggest heroes were turned into undead flesh-eating creatures. While the pre-zombie days of that world haven’t been covered in detail, that world’s Steve Rogers was called Colonel America and served as President of the United States. By the time the Marvel Zombies debuted in 2005’s “Ultimate Fantastic Four” #22, by Mark Millar and Greg Land, Colonel America had already been turned into a zombie.
Over the course of several miniseries, Colonel America and some other zombies gained the Power Cosmic after eating the Silver Surfer and used that power to kill Galactus. In the ensuing battle over who got to eat Galactus’ remains, the Red Skull pulled out Rogers’ brain. Several years later, the surviving human heroes found the Colonel’s brain and placed it inside a new body with a bionic arm. Although he was only a shell of his former self, Colonel America helped the heroes imprison the rest of the zombies in another reality.
11. MUTANT X
In 1998, the series “Mutant X” followed the Marvel Universe’s Havok while he was trapped in an alternate reality. In this dark world, Havok led the Six, a team of monstrous versions of familiar X-Men including a vampire Storm and a devolving Hank McCoy named Brute. After this world’s Steve Rogers was killed in a Sentinel attack on Avengers Mansion, an unknown mutant was chosen to become a new Captain America.
After his debut in 1999’s “Mutant X” #15, by Howard Mackie and Cary Nord, this Captain America left the Avengers and took his energy-manipulating powers to the Six. He was a regular member of the team for the latter half of the series and helped them fight S.H.I.E.L.D., which was an anti-mutant group in this world. In the series’ climax, Captain America went insane with power and energized the Beyonder before being killed in a battle with Havok that partially destroyed the Moon.
10. PRESIDENT SKULL
In a few tales from the alternate-reality anthology, “What If?,” changes in Captain America’s past allowed the Red Skull to take control of the United States. In 1994’s “What If?” #67-68, by Chuck Dixon and Dario Carrasco, Jr. the Red Skull took control of the United States with a force called the Sleepers shortly after WWII. When Dr. Doom discovered the frozen Captain America, he made him the leader of an Avengers team that included the Juggernaut and the Vulture. After realizing that Doom was also a dictator, Cap left and deposed the Red Skull with the X-Patriots, a small team that included Wolverine, Jean Grey and Spider-Man.
In 1991’s “What If?” #28-27, by George Caragonne and Ron Wilson, Captain America led a battalion of Super-Soldiers that won the war but was lost at sea on the way home. After the war, the Red Skull transferred his consciousness into a clone of Steve Rogers and impersonated him. After the Skull’s Rogers was elected president, he ruled America through his Super-Soldiers. The real Rogers was eventually revived and defeated the Skull with a ragtag group that included Frank Castle’s Iron Man and a Wolverine who turned into the cannibal Wendigo.
In 1996, Marvel and DC Comics created several strange combinations of their characters in the Amalgam Comics imprint. As part of the larger “Marvel vs. DC” crossover, Captain America and Superman were merged to form Amalgam’s greatest hero, the Super-Soldier. In Mark Waid and Dave Gibbons’ “Super-Soldier,” the human Clark Kent was given a serum derived from the blood of an infant alien that crash landed on Earth in the 1930s.
After fighting in WWII with Sgt. Rock and the Howling Commandos, Kent fell into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean taking down Ultra-Metallo, a mechanical villain created by Hydra leader Lex Luthor. After being thawed out years later, the Super-Solider resumed his fight against Luthor, who had injected Green K into his blood to become the Green Skull. Although Kent was a member of Amalgam’s premiere super-team, the Judgment League Avengers, he discovered that he was slowly losing his powers due to prolonged exposure to the mysterious Green K meteorite fragments.
8. COLONIAL CAPTAIN AMERICA
Unlike the other characters on this list, a Colonial Captain America may have actually been born in the original Marvel Universe. The Revolutionary War era Captain America was originally created by Jack Kirby in 1976’s “Captain America” #194. Originally said to be an ancestor of the modern Captain America, Steven Rogers killed a British Army officer named William Taurey, whose descendant swore revenge on the modern Rogers. Kirby gave the Colonial Captain a costume later that year with a pin-up in “Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles.”
Years later, the modern Rogers was established as the son of Sarah and Joseph Rogers, who were both Irish immigrants. Despite this seeming contradiction, the Colonial Captain popped up again in 1999. In “Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty” #6-7, by Roger Stern and Ron Frenz, the Captain fought alongside the immortal Ulysses Bloodstone in the Revolutionary War. In addition to battling the redcoats and the Hellfire Club, the Colonial Captain’s uniform also may have inspired the design of the modern Captain America’s costume.
7. MARVEL 1602
In 2003, Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert created another version of Marvel’s Colonial heroes in the highly-anticipated “Marvel 1602.” In that miniseries, an unknown presence caused the emergence of analogues to Marvel’s modern heroes centuries before they were supposed to appear. In this world, Captain America was apparently a blonde Native American called Rojahz. After discovering the young Virginia Dare in the English colony Roanoke, he became her silent protector.
In reality, Rojahz was really a time-displaced Captain America, Steve Rogers, from the future. In his world, the Purple Man, Zebediah Killgrave, used his mind-control powers to become President-for-Life. After defeating the rest of that world’s heroes, he shot Captain America and sent him back in time so he couldn’t become a martyr. Although Rogers wanted to nurture the development of the United States in the past, his presence in the era threatened to rip the universe apart. That threat ended when Dare sent him and the colonial Nick Fury back into Rogers’ home timeline.
6. THE CHOSEN
While Killgrave tried to keep Rogers from becoming an inspirational figure, that’s what another alternate reality Captain America became in the 2007 Marvel Knights miniseries “Captain America: The Chosen.” In David Morrell (the creator of Rambo) and Mitch Breitweiser’s story, Steve Rogers’ Super-Soldier Serum finally started to wear off after decades of super-powered adventures. As his body started to wither away into old age, Rogers volunteered to use an experimental machine that would let him project his image remotely on battlefields around the world.
For most of the series, Captain America was essentially a ghost. The real star of the title was James Newman, a soldier who was encouraged by the specter of the Sentinel of Liberty. Although he began to doubt his sanity, Newman was inspired to perform great acts of courage in battle. After Captain America’s body died, his spirit briefly took control of Newman’s body during a particularly perilous firefight before claiming that he was “inside anyone who’ll listen” now.
5. BULLET POINTS
In another miniseries by an acclaimed writer, J. Michael Straczynski and Tommy Lee Edwards offered a dramatically different take on the origins of the Marvel Universe in the 2006 miniseries “Bullet Points.” In that alternate reality title, a German spy killed Dr. Erksine before he could give Steve Rogers the Super-Soldier Serum. Although that experiment ended, Rogers volunteered for Operation: Iron Man. After being permanently linked to the armor in an agonizing process, Rogers helped the Allies win WWII and recruited an unpowered Reed Richards for technical support.
The same spy that killed Dr. Erksine also killed “Uncle” Ben Parker before he could help raise his nephew Peter. As a result, Peter became the Hulk after being caught in a gamma blast while joyriding in the desert. While Reed Richards went on to form S.H.I.E.L.D. and Bruce Banner became Spider-Man, this Hulk killed an older Rogers while he was on a rampage. Parker’s Hulk redeemed himself when he gave his life trying to drive Galactus away from the Earth.
4. MARVEL 2099
The memory of Captain America survived well into the possible future of Marvel’s fan-favorite 2099 imprint. That era’s first Captain America was a clone of Steve Rogers who was created to depose Doom 2099, who was President of the United States. Although he was killed fairly quickly, the real Steve Rogers was found in a block of ice in 1998’s “2099: Manifest Destiny,” by Len Kaminski and Mike McKone. After thawing out, he wielded Thor’s hammer Mjolnir and formed a new generation of Avengers in one of his only appearances.
In another version of the 2099 timeline, Roberta Mendez unwillingly became a new Captain America after being injected with the Super-Soldier Serum. In “Secret Wars 2099” #1, by Peter David and William Sliney, Mendez was introduced as part of a corporate group of heroes known as the Alchemax Avengers. After teaming up with that era’s Defenders to take down Baron Mordo, she traveled to the main Marvel Universe. Since then, she’s worked for Miguel O’Hara, the time-displaced Spider-Man 2099 from the other 2099 timeline.
3. “WHAT IF?” 1984
Like several issues of the anthology series, 1984’s “What If?” #44 asked “What If Captain America Were Revived Today?” In that well-regarded tale by Peter B. Gillis and Sal Buscema, William Burnside, the Communist-fighting Captain America from the 1950s, was revived before Steve Rogers was discovered. Still under the influence of Cold War-era paranoia, Burnside used his newfound fame to help Senator Norman Chadwick, a member of the evil Secret Empire, push an authoritarian agenda.
While America began its descent into fascism, a submarine crew found Steve Rogers frozen in the North Atlantic. After thawing out, the real Captain America joined Spider-Man, Nick Fury and Sam Wilson to form a resistance movement. At a campaign rally for the Secret Empire’s America First political party, Rogers attacked Burnside and defeated him, both physically and rhetorically. After the nationally televised brawl, Rogers gave an impassioned speech where he told a misguided public that America was “nothing” without its commitment to the freedom of all.
2. EARTH X
In 1999, Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and John Paul Leon created an epic tale of the last days of a dystopian parallel world in “Earth X.” In the miniseries, an older Captain America had been idolized by the Red Skull. After his nemesis killed his old girlfriend Bernie Rosenthal, Captain America decapitated the Red Skull and quit the Avengers. After the Terrigen Mists covered Earth and an alien Hydra took control of several of his old allies, Captain America worked with his new partner Red Wing to defeat a powerful telepathic child called the Skull. When the Skull threatened New York with his mind-controlled army, Captain America broke the Skull’s neck to end his reign of terror.
“Earth X” was a big enough success to spawn two expansive sequels. In 2000’s “Universe X,” Captain America helped the young Mar-Vell gather several artifacts and build a paradise dimension for the fallen Marvel heroes until his death. From 2001 to 2003, “Paradise X” followed the dead Captain America, who had become an angelic, blue-skinned figure by this point, as he continued to help build the paradise for Marvel’s fallen heroes.
1. CAP WOLF
In one of the most infamous “Captain America” storylines of the 1990s, Captain America briefly became a werewolf. Starting in 1992’s “Captain America” #402, by Mark Gruenwald and Rik Levins, Captain America was captured by the villain Nightshade and given a serum that turned him into a lupine monster. Over the next few issues, Cap Wolf tangled with Wolverine before teaming up with Cable to take down the mystically-powered Starwolf.
While the Marvel Universe’s Captain America regained his humanity, Cap Wolf howled on in the world of the Avengers of the Undead. Created by Rick Remender and Andy Kuhn in 2012’s “Secret Avengers” #33, this Avengers team featured monstrous versions of a vampire Wolverine and the Frankencastle version of the Punisher. Three heroes from the Marvel Universe, Hawkeye, Beast and Captain Britain, fought the supernatural Avengers while they were searching for the Orb of Necromancy, which they needed to destroy a group of robots called the Descendants. After foiling Cap Wolf and the Avengers’ plan to spread their undead influence throughout the universe, the real Avengers launched a sneak attack on the monstrous heroes and returned to the Marvel Universe.
Stay tuned to CBR for all the latest on “Secret Empire” and the continuing adventures of Captain America. Let us know what your favorite version of Captain America is in the comments below!