Captain America, Back from the Dead (Sort Of)

The original Captain America takes on Adolph Hitler on the cover of the comic's premier issue. i i

The original Captain America takes on Adolph Hitler on the cover of the comic's premier issue in 1941. Marvel Comics hide caption

itoggle caption Marvel Comics
The original Captain America takes on Adolph Hitler on the cover of the comic's premier issue.

The original Captain America takes on Adolph Hitler on the cover of the comic's premier issue in 1941.

Marvel Comics

In the alternate universe of comic books, there's a crisis brewing between the U.S. and Russia. America is being threatened by a former Soviet general and his Nazi partner. Sounds like a job for Captain America.

But Captain America died last year, shot by assassins on the steps of the federal courthouse in New York City.

On Wednesday, a new issue of Captain America hits comic book stores and with it comes a new Captain America. It's not the same character ... he's still dead. But the comic didn't die with him.

Ed Brubaker writes Captain America for Marvel Comics. For the past year, his stories have been about the loss of Steve Rogers, aka Captain America or "Cap," and about the search for his killer. One particular character has featured in many of those tales — Captain America's oldest friend, James "Bucky" Barnes.

"Bucky is kind of a very conflicted character who's trying to find some redemption, and his closest friend is basically taken away from him before he can really reconcile with him," Brubaker says.

Bucky and Captain America fought against the Nazis and the Japanese in World War II. According to Marvel Comics lore, both disappeared in the final days of the war.

This is where it starts to get complicated.

Steve Rogers (Captain America) was found frozen in ice in the mid-1960s and revived to become an American hero, thwarting villains with his signature Shield.

Bucky was also found frozen, but he was revived by the Soviets, who turned him into an evil killer known as The Winter Soldier. This character is now, once again, a good guy, but he's no Boy Scout. Unlike the modern version of Captain America, Bucky carries a gun.

Brubaker says he wasn't trying to stir controversy by adding this element to the Captain America character. But he says criticism comes with the territory when you're writing the adventures of an American icon.

"All liberals want Captain America to be standing on a soapbox outside the White House bashing President Bush," Brubaker says. "All right-wingers want Captain America to be ... over in Afghanistan punching Osama in the face," just like in the first issue, when he was smacking Adolph Hitler, the writer says.

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