Born on the Fourth of July: Steve Rogers

Happy Birthday, Captain America!

Born: July 4th, 1918

Steven G. Rogers was a scrappy yet weakling boy from the mean streets of New York City. Born in the dying months of World War I. In his youth he was often very sick, and bullied. As a loner, he developed a penchant for drawing. Both of his parents had passed away when he was young. His father in World War I, and his mother later from a bout with tuberculosis. Left on his own, with the world at war again, Steve wanted to do his part and fight, and to escape the lone harsh reality he faced every day. But he could not pass a single Army entrance exam due to his poor physical condition. Getting slapped with the 4-F rating was a massive blow.

Then in a chance twist of fate, he was accepted into a secretive military experiment called Project Rebirth, by General Phillips, the Army’s ranking liaison for the project. During this time he met Dr. Reinstein, the lead on the project. Reinstein was the code-name given to Dr. Abraham Erskine following his defecting from the service of the Nazi’s. Because Nazi eyes and ears had infiltrated even the most secretive of government organizations. Erskine would help Steve prepare for what was to come.

One day, following weeks or preparations, in a secret room deep within an “sinister looking curio shop”, Steve was injected with the Super Soldier Serum and received Vita Ray treatment(the injection was later changed to a drinkable concoction in the 1960’s comics to avoid worries about injection drug abuse backlash). The results were almost immediate. And to the amazement of the observers, the wire of a young man was gone. In his place, now stood a built specimen of humanity.

Dr Erskine dubbed him Captain America, right then and there.

Having seen enough, a Nazi spy, disguised as a government official, attacked. Dr Erskine would be killed in the crossfire. Along with him, went the secrets of the Super Soldier Serum. As he kept their recipe in the safest place. His brain. Enraged at the death of the doctor, Steve sprang to action. Grabbing the Nazi spy and delivering him several devastating blows with his newfound strength that sent the snake flying across the room like a rag doll. The spy, now in fear for his life, tried to escape. But in his frantic flight, he collided with some high-voltage equipment and was electrocuted and perished. Captain America had just made his first action against the Nazi’s in the war.

From there, Steve would be recognized as America’s first (and only(for now)) super soldier. Initially keeping his identity secret from his comrades back at Camp Lehigh. Until one night, James Buchanan(Bucky) Barnes, the camp’s mascot(yeah, really), discovered his alter identity. From there they would team up and would soon change the fate of World War II. The pair would be a massive thorn in the Nazi’s and the Red Skull’s side. Captain America and his sidekick regularly fought with the Invaders. A group of super humans that contained the likes of: The Human Torch, Namor, and many more.

In the waning days of the war, Captain America and Bucky were trying to thwart a plan by Baron Zemo to steal a top-secret ally drone plane that was capable of delivering massive payloads, to Hitler. In trying to stop the plane, it explodes. This was a result of Bucky triggering a trap white trying to gain control of the vehicle. Bucky was presumably killed in the explosion, and Cap was thrown from the plane and plummeted into the frozen sea, where he would be assumed killed in action as well. But I think we all know that that was not the case. As for Bucky, well, his fate could be considered one worse than death.

[Above comics are from Captain America: Evolution of a Living Legend. Which were taken from Captain America Comics #1]


Cap and I

The story of Captain America varies from the various comics to the MCU. There are even various accounts of what happened to him following his presumed death. One said he was frozen and found years later by Namor. One claims that he was encased in a large chunk of ice, found by natives of a fishing village. They would come to worship his as a frozen god. The MCU had their own idea of Cap’s story as well. In which he was frozen for almost a century, buried within the Red Skull’s crashed bombing aircraft. Whereas, in the comics it may have been more like 20 or 30 years. I have read and seen many different iterations of the legend of Steve Rogers and his successors. But they all have one basic thing in common. He was just a weakling boy from New York that wanted to fight for what he thought was right.

Captain America has long been my favorite superhero. A zero to hero story if there ever was one. Which is never a hard concept to rally around. I was a weakling/sickly kid too once. I still am at heart (wait, what?). I grew up in a time when Batman was probably the most popular superhero. Bruce Wayne was getting a much needed new lease on things by Tim Burton in those years. It was a major upgrade from the Adam West version. Superman was still a thing, but not as prevalent at this point. It was definitely DC comics that were more mainstream then. At least to my eyes.

The face of Marvel Comics was X-Men in those years. And sure I liked them. But I grew up as a Navy-brat, moving from base to base. So I was surrounded by the military and some sort of patriotism(for the most part). I used to watch old silver-screen war movies with my grandmother all the time. Be they European theater films, Pacific theater films, or Elvis Presley’s back-from-war movies. Man, she loved her Elvis. Me, a metal-head nerd-child of the 80’s, not so much. With all that said, Captain America really resonated within me. And so did World War II. It is still a subject that I study to this day. I have a great respect for the Greatest Generation. Largely because I cannot imagine living through the shit that they did.

My first look at Cap came from a box of comics that I found at a yard sale back in the late 1980’s. The comics were old and musty, mostly vintage looking ones. Probably worth a lot hindsight, but they had seen many better years. Let alone days. Most were from the early days of Cap’s adventures against Red Skull and Nazi Germany. I remembered seeing Baron Zemo here and there as well. I read them over and over. But obviously, I never got the full story. I never learned about Cap’s fate until much later. I never learned the details about the freeze. And I never learned what happened to Bucky. I had some surprises coming, for sure.

Who’s Bucky?

Fast forward through most of my life to 2010, or so. The MCU was picking up speed like a freight train. Marvel movies finally have the right people pulling the strings. And rumors are flying around about Cap coming to the big screen. Sooner rather than later. Chris Evans(only a handful of years removed from the Fantastic Four) was tapped to take up the shield.

Now, in the interest of being transparent, I didn’t care for the move initially. Pulling an actor away from one very established character to play another one in the same universe(though not the same cinematic universe). I mean, there have to be plenty of other actors out there, right?

Sure enough in 2011, Captain America: The First Avenger arrived in theaters. And I was there to see it. I found it outstanding. As I had not had much exposure to Cap in the past 20 years or so, that movie rejuvenated my love for the character. It was bolstered by the fact that I grew up to be a war(history)-buff of sorts as well. I regularly watch war documentaries or battle breakdowns, and I still enjoy war movies.

To eat my criticism about the casting from above, Chris Evans is Captain America. Plain and simple. He nailed it. I cannot, and do not want to, picture anyone else in the role of Steve Rogers at this point.

From the end of The First Avenger, cosmic events brought the Avengers together. Because that was a given. This would bring the whole team together. But teams need a leader, and Nick Fury stepped in to assign that task to Rogers. The only man that could handle it. Rogers, who until this point, was pretty much only thawing out by preparing for his golden gloves boxing match against No-One-In-Their-Right-Fucking-Mind.

So, Cap did what he had to do. He picked up his mess, took a shower, got dressed, rolled out on the next Quinjet, and took charge!

WOOOOOOOOOOO!! And the theater erupts! Well, I did in the theater. This is one of my favorite lines from the entire MCU. All of it.

Throughout the ten, or so, years that Evans played Steve Rogers, he took the character through all forms of conflict. Friend, foe, foreign, domestic, alien. Hell, he even fought himself in a Street Fighter-esque mirror match in Avenger Tower after time traveling like a man that wasn’t already out of time 5-times over(Everyone still on the same page here?)

But through all of that, he never lost his resolve. And though the characters around him changed, people still rallied to him for his guidance and leadership.

And you know what? He got the MCU ending he deserved in my eyes. Finally getting that dance with Peggy Carter.

[cue the music]

Perfection. Simply perfect. Fucking right, I cried.

I will say this. No, I do not think this is the last we’ve seen of Steve Rogers(or Evans) in the MCU. Particularly if the source material has anything to say about it. Especially with Sam taking up the shield and Secret Wars looming. There is also a lot to clean up with Bucky. He is a war criminal after all. And no, they have not wiped that slate clean, in my eyes. The comics were much deeper there. But time will tell. I would love to see Evans back as Cap in some fashion.


Pieces Of My Captain America Collection

I’ve collected quite a few pieces of Cap memorabilia over the years. Nothing too special. But they all have meaning to me. From comics to figures. 3D printed busts to hand painted miniatures. And of course t-shirts.

I began reading the Captain America comics again after The First Avenger arrived in theaters. I needed to get caught up in his exploits. But I didn’t read too much of the older or Golden Age, stuff. I do have one Masterworks collected volume that is all 1960’s publications. But I’ve recently only read most of the newer stuff released from about the 1980’s on. With some exceptions of stuff that has been included in some volumes. Like the Living Legend book, which has some old 1941 Cap comics in it. Some day, I will get the large hard cover complete collection books. But that is a big ”Some Day” as I currently don’t have the shelf space for those now.

The Masterworks collections are great. The paper stock used is even like it was from those old 1960’s era comics.
Not in any particular order shown here. Not included: my Civil War, Winter Soldier, Ultimate Avengers, Fear Itself, and Captain America Truth(Isaiah Bradley) Collections
Evolutions of a Living Legend is a great collected edition. Bringing bits from all of Cap’s history. From issue 1 to about the year 2017.

As a movie fan with massive shelves of DVD’s and Bluray’s, I made it a point when decorating our living room to buy movie posters for the walls(with permission from my wife of course). I found a place online that sold prints of movie posters, and had a handful framed up nice-like. I have an Akira Kurosawa Yojimbo poster, a Hayao Miyazaki Tonari no Totoro(My Neighbor Totoro) poster, a nice map of Middle Earth(big LotR fan), and lastly Cap from The First Avenger. He watches over my hobby area and our living room.

He’s also babysitting Grogu.

I also occasionally go after small Cap collectibles if I come across something that catches my eye. Not the big crazy stuff. Though some day I do want a replica of his shield for a wall and a larger masterclass statue of some sort. This palm-sized figure I ”won” in Japan, at a Game Center(arcade) while playing a UFO Catcher claw machine. I say ”won”, because I refused to give up until it was mine. With that said, I pretty much bought it at a heavily inflated price. Probably about 5,000 yen(or $50-ish). For reference, you get two tries at the machine for 100 yen or so(or $1-ish). You do the math and figure out how long I was trying to get this figure.

Worth it?

(No)Yeah. (Not)Worth it.

My stubbornness has gotten the better of me a few times with these machines. Similar incidents have happened while trying to get a Misato Katsuragi statue from Neon Genesis Evangelion. And also an Asuna statue from Sword Art Online. I have to be careful when I am walking through these game centers. Particularly if something catches my eye. An annoying part of triumphing over these machines, is the eventuality of when you have to go to the change machines for more coins. The staff will come in and reset the machine when you step away. Killing your work. Or maybe someone will slide up after you and their one coin will be enough to net them the prize. You have to be careful. This is war.


The Good Smile Company from Japan are amazing creators of great pose-able figures. One of their series of figures is called Nendoroid. And I love them. They are small characters with big heads. I have quite a few of them. And when I saw that they had this version of Captain America, from Endgame, I had to buy it. This deluxe version comes with two versions of Cap. I got it shipped here from Amazon Japan. There is a third version of Cap available in this series. It has the Wakandan tech shields. I’ll be picking that one up soon enough.

Good Smile Company’s Figma collection is also outstanding. I have a bunch of those as well. They are highly posable, and offer great likeness to their anime characters.


I received Cap’s 1940 shield here in a Loot Crate box some time ago. Loot Crate boxes were often full of crap that was thrown away almost immediately, but this was a score. It is a solid piece and really nicely detailed. Right down to the handles on the back. It also comes with a “certificate” of authenticity.(It’s just a flimsy card with a First Avenger poster on one side and words explaining that it’s official on the other.)


And then there is the tie in to my modeling hobbies. 3D Printing and miniature building/painting. I printed this bust of Cap one long day with my Prusa Mini. took almost 24 hours, if memory serves. And it came out really well. I was still working on dialing in the settings for that machine when I attempted this print. I may or may not some day paint him up. But I kind of like the silver, as it is. Perhaps I will reprint him with higher settings and paint that one. Who knows.

Unfortunately, I lost the credit information for the designer of this bust. I will update it when I find it. Because that person had a few other outstanding character busts.

When I picked up the Marvel Crisis Protocol core set last year, I was wicked excited to have a miniature of Captain America. But then I got nervous as hell about screwing up the paint job of my favorite Avenger. I did my best, and called it quits at the right time. I’m proud of how he looks. Particularly his uniform. I kind of hope they come out with a later stage version of him, maybe from Endgame, wielding Mjolnir. If memory serves, they already built in rules for Thor and Cap to share Mjolnir’s power if they are on the same team.

[Update] Atomic Mass announced, in the week of 6/6/22, that a new Cap was coming. It has a wonderful throwback pose very similar to the one found on the Masterworks Comics cover (above). I can’t wait for that one. The set will come with the Human Torch. A former Invaders member.


The only Funko that I care to display is this Captain America Endgame one. Which is actually pretty badass. I am not a fan of Funko, though I have quite a few from all the Halo and Marvel Loot Crates I received all those years ago. They are all packed away somewhere until I figure out what I actually want to do with all of them. Honestly, I do not see their allure to people. There is just something about them I don’t like. I think it is their faces. They are all the same. No mouths. But to each their own.


I got back in to Lego and other building blocks kits this year. The goal was to hopefully help break up my various hobby ruts. Seeing as Lego was my first hobby and had gotten away from me, it has been a great escape. I totally had to get my hands on the Captain America minifigs. Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Sam Wilson. And in a fit of midnight shopping I found these on eBay.

Bucky looks like he just saw someone eat something vile.

I Can Do This All Day

There is more in my collection, with some things packed away. I even went as far as to go to Build A Bear and make a rabbit with Captain America’s uniform. I named him Steve Rogers Rabbit. Though Steve Rogers Rabbit is currently wearing a New York Rangers uniform. Because Captain America is a proud New Yorker.

Maybe I’ll pick up some more memorabilia later, and update this piece for the coming Fourth of July’s. (Spoiler alert. I will). Oh, I’ll get that shield. [said in the voice of Rocket Raccoon.]

So, for now I will wrap this up by just saying, Happy Birthday, Cap! Enjoy retirement! (even though I know you’ll be back)

And…

104 Years Young.

Cover image credit: https://www.peakpx.com/en/hd-wallpaper-desktop-vfdgq

[This post was originally published at Otherverse Games & Hobbies]



Robert

All of these are true except for one:

Robert is: a Hobbyist, a Music Lover, an RPG Gamer, a Mustard Lover, Chaotic Neutral, a Japanese Speaker, a Veteran, an Otaku, a Table Tennis Player, an Anime Fan, an Aviation Professional, a New York Rangers Fan, a Chaos Lover With Loyalist Tendencies.

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