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When Wonder Woman and Captain America Returned to World War II

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

Today, we take a look at how Captain America and Wonder Woman's comic books went back to World War II.

Captain America debuted before the United States even entered World War II, which was obviously a bit of a big deal back when it happened, as the United States was not at war with Nazi Germany for over a year after Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had Cap punching Hitler out on the cover of their comic. That was a brave political act at the time (but, of course, comic books did not become political until Axel Alonso became Marvel's Editor-in-Chief)...

A year later, the United States entered World War II and Cap fought in the war for the next few years. Interestingly enough, though, when the war ended, Cap did not remain in the service. No, he came back to the United States and had typical superhero adventures while becoming a schoolteacher in his private life. Then the sales of his comic dropped to the point of cancellation.

In the early 1950s, Cap and Bucky re-enlisted so that they could fight against Communist villains. Then the sales on those comics weren't particularly good and Cap was canceled once again. In 1964, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought Captain America back in the pages of the Avengers. He was now in the modern era, having been frozen since World War II.

In Tales of Suspense #58, Cap joined Iron Man in that series...

The next issue, he got his own feature in the series, set in the modern era...

However, while we now think of Captain America as a character who easily survives outside of the setting of World War II, things were far less obvious back then, as really, there was not a whole lot of examples of modern Captain America stories. Therefore, in Tales of Suspense #63, Lee and Kirby did Captain America's origin (which had to be slightly altered to fit into the era of the Comics Code, so no Super Soldier Serum injections)...

The end of the story had Cap and Bucky actively killing soldiers (despite later writers deciding that Cap never killed anyone during the war for whatever reason) but it also had a big surprise...

Yep, Lee and Kirby decided that Cap made more sense to keep him in the World War II setting. This allowed them to use Bucky, as well, and also it gave them access to some of Cap's classic World War II villains, like the Red Skull and, well, these weirdos...

However, despite an excellent story involving the Red Skull's origin, it soon became clear that it really did not make a ton of sense to be telling stories set in the past starring a guy who is starring in a modern comic book (the Avengers) at the same time. You could easily tell new stories with the dude, so Tales of Suspense #71 was the last issue of this particular experiment...

What's interesting is that after they introduced Sharon Carter in Tales of Suspense #75, they actually DID go back in time again for one really good story in Tales of Suspense #77, which told the story of Sharon's older sister, Peggy Carter, who obviously had been retconned a number of times to be different relations of Sharon (I believe it currently is "Grand-Aunt")...

Cap was now firmly back in the present, although obviously there have been a number of Cap stories set in the past since then. In fact, when Steve Rogers returned to life after seemingly being dead for a few years, he was given his own comic book series and the then-current Captain America series was re-named Captain America and Bucky with #620 and was set in World War II...

That series only remained strictly in the past for five issues, and then it went to a mixture of modern times and flashbacks for one more arc and then it became a Captain America team-up series. Anyone know if they used those issues to get Captain America to its current early #700 numbering?

Okay, now on to Wonder Woman (as an aside, the featured image for this piece is one of the few covers to actually make it clear that it was set during World War II)....

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