There may be something wrong with us. We’re excited for the new Captain America movie just like most fans, and adapting Civil War is a good idea, but there’s a shameful part of us that really wants an adaptation of that Civil War moment where some idiot told Captain America he deserved to lose the “war” because he didn’t watch stupid videos on YouTube or know what Myspace was. (Of course, that was 2006, when Myspace was still a thing, so you’d have to update it to Snapchat or something.)
No, no, no, we don’t really want to put Chris Evans through the indignity of acting out that scene. But of all Captain America’s many adventures, there have been some weird ones. A few of those have been bizarrely great, and others have been… just the worst.
Here are the 12 Weirdest Captain America Stories.
12. The time he and the Red Skull fought each other as a pair of octogenarians
Dying of old age, the villainous Red Skull resolved that the only way he could go down is locked in combat with his mortal enemy. To even things up, he dosed Cap with an “aging serum” and then dosed him with a slow-acting poison. Seems kind of redundant, but that’s hardly the oddest part of Captain America #296-300 (1984).
For one thing, extreme old age didn’t seem to alter these guys’ acrobatic fighting styles at all. For another, the story couldn’t make up its mind from issue to issue whether Cap even hates the Red Skull or not. And finally, after watching the Red Skull die of heart failure, Cap got saved from the poison by Black Crow, a Navajo super-hero who just sorta knew he had to be there to save the symbol of the people from certain death.
11. The time he fought Nazi Frankenstein
Cap gets the honor of narrating this story, making it close enough to count, but technically, Invaders #31 (1978) is a team-up story featuring Cap, the Sub-Mariner and the early, pre-Fantastic Four Human Torch, whose name made no sense because he was a robot. But the Torch’s artificial origins meant that he took it personally when Nazi scientists resurrected Frankenstein’s monster to be a Nazi puppet.
However, one fight scene later, a jolt of electricity freed the Monster from its brainwashing and – stop us if you’ve heard this one — it turned on its creators. But this time, those creators were Nazis, plus it killed itself in the process, so no harm no foul, we suppose.
10. The time he was basically a cokehead
When enthusiasm for “The War on Drugs” was at its height, Captain America fretted that he was an “example of better living through drug use.” Of course, the Super-Soldier Serum isn’t really like cocaine in that it has no negative side effects, but isn’t that just what a drug abuser would say?
In “Streets of Poison” (Captain America #373-378, 1990) an exploding warehouse full of cocaine messed with Cap’s body chemistry. He started showing classic drug-abuser symptoms like paranoia, emotional instability, and catastrophic failures of hygiene, finally going completely nuts and forcing his fellow heroes to lock him up in detox.
9. The first (?!) time he was a werewolf
“Streets of Poison” was making a well-meaning if dumb comparison between helpful medicines and harmful black-market drugs (insert marijuana legality debate here). However, medically administered substances can be harmful, when the person administering them is a mad scientist who wants to turn everyone into werewolf slaves. But she’s also working for a druid who…wants to become…the ultimate werewolf?…
Honestly, “Capwolf” (Captain America #402-#408, 1992) is too choked with high-profile guest-stars (Cable, Wolverine, Dr. Druid and every Marvel werewolf character ever) to make much sense. But it gave us four issues of Captain America as a wolf-creature, which apparently inspired the current series, featuring Sam Wilson in the title role, to follow suit.
8. The time he was dating Peggy Carter’s sister behind her back
Hayley Atwell’s take on Peggy Carter is a serious improvement on the comics, mostly because the comics version collapsed into mourning after hearing Cap was dead instead of going on awesome post-war adventures. The comics also keep changing exactly how long Cap was frozen in that iceberg. In Captain America #161 from 1973, it had only been 25 years or so, so when he came back to Peggy, she was only middle-aged.
However, he’d already started dating her (much) younger sister Sharon, and took just forever to tell Peggy he didn’t love her anymore. After he did, she was crushed for a few days or so before she did what she should’ve done in 1945 — got on with her life and changed her status to “single.” (Sharon was later revised to be Peggy’s niece, and will probably be her grand-niece in a few more years.)
7. The time he dressed as a woman to sneak out of a cell of radical feminists…
“…who had also tried to give him a sex change.” Or maybe we should call it “the time he fought an island full of female supervillains?” Or “the time he fought evil tyrant Wonder Woman?” Too many choices! But you sort of get the idea.
Superia, a men’s rights activist’s nightmare vision of “the ultimate woman,” gathered almost every female supervillain and lots of other high-achieving women onto an island, which she planned to make the capital city of the planet by sterilizing all women outside of it. That way, only her island would represent the future of the human race. Because if there’s one thing feminists love more than anything in the world, it’s being obligated to have babies. (Not sure that explains the pantsless guards’ uniforms, though.)
6. The time he dressed as a grandma
Escaping Superia’s island of “Femizonia” (we have pics, so you know it happened) wasn’t even the first time Cap dressed as a woman to complete a mission. That was actually one of his earliest missions, in Captain America Comics #2, and he was a lot more convincing as a grandma, partly because he took the time to have Bucky get him into a corset. Bucky is himself disguised as a “sissy boy,” a term somewhat less offensive in 1941 than it is today.
All this subterfuge was so they can find a wealthy American war financier before the Nazis replace him with an impostor, but no one got around to explaining why Steve and Bucky couldn’t just do this in their actual secret identities as Steve Rogers or Bucky Barnes. Maybe the artist, Jack Kirby, just wanted to draw his grandma.
5. The times he fought an asthma-loving asthmatic
Honestly, there have been comic-book PSAs with far worse titles than Captain America Meets the Asthma Monster and Captain America: Return of the Asthma Monster (1987, 1989). Asthma is pretty scary to kids! Even to adults sometimes! And asthma was one of teenage Steve Rogers’ many ailments, so he could relate!
But the Asthma Monster was an actual asthma sufferer who, believing he could not help himself, decided to give everyone else asthma instead with his “Aller-Gun” and later with an army of allergen-themed monsters. After his second defeat, someone reforms Mr. Monster by teaching him how to use an inhaler (no, seriously) and he scores early parole. “I’m even coaching a children’s swim team!” he says. Man, some public schools will just hire anybody.
4. The time he met Buddha and created the American flag
In Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles – Marvel Treasury Special (from 1976, naturally), Cap met a mystic, subtly named “Buda,” who sent him on a hallucinatory journey through American history, where he met Geronimo, pre-Civil War slavers, nuclear testers, an early boxer, victims of the Chicago fire, a young Jack Kirby in the Great Depression, future astronauts, and the real future of America — kids like YOU, dear reader!
But the best part of his journey came first, as Ben Franklin invites him to meet Betsy Ross, so she can crib ideas for the American flag off his uniform. Cap’s reaction to this time paradox is hysterical in every sense of the word: he runs out into the street, hollering, “IT ISN’T POSSIBLE! IT JUST ISN’T POSSIBLE! I’VE BEEN RIPPED OFF BY BENJAMIN FRANKLIN!”
3. The time he fought snake-man Ronald Reagan
In Captain America #344 (1988), Steve Rogers was on the outs with the government. The believably-named Commission on Superhuman Activities had stripped him of his uniform, title and shield. So it was as “The Captain,” outlaw superhero, that he caught wind of a conspiracy to turn most of D.C. into raving, instinct-maddened snake-people by poisoning the water supply.
He ran to the White House to get the First Couple to safety — too late to stop Reagan from drinking tainted water, but in time to cure him by making him sweat the poison out. Then he ran off, while the new, Commission-approved “Captain America” captured all his allies for questioning. That’s gratitude for you.
2. The time he watched Richard Nixon kill himself
Fourteen years earlier, the hooded leader of the vast conspiracy known as the Secret Empire had fled to the Oval Office when Nixon was supposedly “on retreat.” When he revealed his true identity as a “holder of high political office,” it so shocked Steve that his reflexes were too slow to keep “Number One” from shooting himself to death.
Nobody came out and said this was Nixon, but in 1974, readers knew…and Steve’s spirit would be slow in recovering. Captain America #175 managed to be excellent for its day, even though it had that Peggy-Sharon soap opera as a running subplot. The only other problem with it was that it inspired about a billion “Captain America loses his faith in America” storylines afterward.
1. The time he was a gun-toting idiot detective
The first Marvel theatrical movie by more than a 40-year margin was also the last and most expensive Republic serial ever made. Unfortunately, it ain’t great, and more unfortunately for Captain America fans, the only things Republic seemed to use from the original character was the name, the costume and the general tendency to fight crime.
This “Captain America’s” secret identity was District Attorney Grant Gardner, he used a gun and not his shield, and even though this was a 1944 release, Bucky and Nazis were nowhere to be seen. It seems likely this story was written for another superhero character altogether, then “reassigned” to Cap at the last minute. Hey, one of these costume guys is pretty much just like another, right?
By all means, feel free to speak about any notably weird examples in the comments. After all, free speech is a right not just for Americans, but in all civilized nations. And if you’re in an uncivilized one, well, we can still pretend.