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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – So the U.S. Government Actually Secretly Froze Captain America All Those Years?

by  in Comic News Comment

In this feature we examine comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, based on a suggestion by reader Edward H., we take a look at the short-lived retcon that it was the United States government who froze Captain America during World War II…

NOTE: This piece had so many images that I decided to split it up over two pages so it wouldn’t take as long to load.

When Captain America made his Silver Age debut in 1964’s Avengers #4 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers, we learn just where Cap has been since World War II…





Cap explains how he got into the ice…



Roughly fifty issues later, Roy Thomas and John Buscema actually let us SEE THIS HAPPEN when Cap and the Avengers travel back in time…


And that was the status quo for decades.

However, in 2003’s Captain America #9 by John Ney Reiber and Chuck Austen (art by Trevor Hairsine), a former friend of Cap’s turned bad gives Cap something that will open up his memories…




And in the next issue (now by Austen solo, with art by Jae Lee), Cap begins to remember the truth while he hallucinates from the stuff the bad guy made him drink…




He defeats the bad guy but he is still haunted by these new memories.

He deals with them in the next storyline “Ice” from Captain America #12-16, where we actually go back in time to see how Cap REALLY was unfrozen.

Read on to the next page to see how Cap was REALLY unfrozen!

We see that Namor showed up at a U.S. base where U.S. scientists were excavating Atlantean ruins, and they discover a mysterious alien hand attached to one of the buried bodies there. However, one of the scientists betrayed the others (apparently on behalf of the U.S. government somehow) and planned to kill them all and steal the research discovered in the excavation. Namor shows up, pissed off at the soldiers for desecrating Atlantean burial grounds. Once he gets there, he learns that this is the base where the frozen Cap was held, but they tossed him outside…




The now revived Cap fights off Namor (Cap doesn’t know exactly who he is defending, as his brain is kind of mushy, but he sees a U.S. operative being attacked and he defends him instinctively) and then the self-destruct explosion goes off (set by the evil scientist) and the evil scientist (who got his hand chopped off by Namor) bonds with the alien hand as Cap is sent off into the icy water to meet the Avengers for the first time…



This guy, now calling himself the Interrogator, ends up living with the Lemurians since then. He shows up now in an attempt to menace Captain America, first by revealing the truth about what the U.S. Government did to him, which, apparently was because Cap would have stopped them from dropping the nukes on Japan (say whaaaa?)…




(The woman with Cap, by the way, is not Sharon Carter but a short-lived Atlantean love interest)

It is so weird how throughout the story, Cap is all “Man, I don’t know if I believe these new memories or not” but then we see the flashback to the past so we know that the new memories ARE real. It was like they wanted their retcon but wanted to hedge their bets.

In the end, the Interrogator uses his powers to try to invade Cap’s mind and creates a virtual reality in an attempt to get Cap to kill, which was the Interrogator’s entire goal this whole time, to mess with Cap’s head, all, as it turns out, on a mission from Dell Rusk, the U.S. Secretary of Defense (who turned out to be the Red Skull in disguise). This seemed to be Austen trying to resolve this whole thing (which, to be fair, he inherited from Ney Reiber) by tying it into the Dell Rusk plotline that was going on at the time in Avengers.

At the end of the story, Cap cuts the alien hand off of the Interrgoator, but doesn’t realize that the hand was the only thing keeping the host body alive. So Cap DOES end up killing. Bummer ending. And that is it for Ice. Austen left the book with that issue and the next storyline was an alternate reality story by Dave Gibbons and Lee Weeks (that was awesome). And then Robert Morales took over the book and made no mention to this new information. Basically, no one ever addressed it again.

Soon Ed Brubaker relaunched the book, and while I won’t show you (as it ties into another notable retcon we’ll feature some day), suffice it to say that Brubaker made it plainly clear that Cap did, indeed, get caught up in that explosion and fell into the waters below and was frozen. And it was not the United States government doing it. Which is good, as that was a weeeeeeeird idea.

Seriously, how cuckoo balls was the plot for Ice? So some secret U.S. operative sneaks into a base where U.S. scientists are dissecting buried Atlanteans and Lemurians. He kills them because they discovered an alien hand (an alien hand!) and he wants it for his boss. Namor find out, tries to stop him and in the process revives Cap, who happened to be held at that base. Namor cuts the operative’s hand off and he bonds with the alien hand and then goes to live with the Lemurians, the people he was helping to dissect. He then stays down there, only to surface to be hired by Dell Rusk (who is secretly the Red Skull) to make Captain America kill. To do so, he sends him evidence that the U.S. Government froze him. Do note, though, that Cap already had sort of learned this from an unrelated plot in the previous story arc. So was that just a really weird coincidence? The other bad guy freed Cap’s memories and now the Interrogator did so, as well? And it was all in an attempt to make Cap kill someone just because the Red Skull thinks it would be devastating for Cap to kill? Oh man, I can’t believe I just wrote all that. It is so bizarre. Ans not fun bizarre like I Love Ya But You’re Strange.

Anyhow, thanks to Edward H. for the suggestion (should I really be THANKING you for reminding me of this story, though?)! If YOU have a suggestion for a future installment of Abandoned an’ Forsaked, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com