Ever since his first appearance punching Adolf Hitler on the cover of his very first comic book, one year before The United States entered World War II, Captain America has always been a political character. For good and for ill, his comic has explored the values of America and the ideals upon which the United States were founded. There have been times, however, when the American Dream seemed heavily at odds with the American Reality.
In 1974, with the nation growing more cynical in the wake of Richard Nixon’s Watergate Scandal, writer Steve Englehart decided to put Steve Rogers through the same crisis of faith that many Americans were struggling with. Thus did Captain America, who had been fighting with the fascist organization known as the Secret Empire, discover to his horror that the leader of the titular Secret Empire was a highly-placed government official.
With his faith in the American government shattered, but still unable to forsake his need to help others, Steve Rogers took up a new costume and the name of “Nomad – The Man Without A Country!”
Though Steve Rogers would eventually take up the Captain America mantle again, he did not forget the lessons he learned during his time as Nomad. The name of Nomad would not be forgotten either, passing through a line of successors.
Here are 15 Things Only True Marvel Fans Know About Nomad!
15. The “Spirit of Nomad”
As of the ending of Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers has become something of a man without a country, much like his comic book counterpart following Secret Empire in 1974.
A quick reference in Spider-Man: Homecoming suggested that Steve Rogers is largely viewed as a traitor, with it being public knowledge that he abandoned his post as Captain America.
Though he refused to confirm or deny any rumors about whether or not Steve Rogers will be using the Nomad code-name in the upcoming movie Avengers: Infinity War, director Joe Russo did say that Steve Rogers’ character arc in the movie is in “the spirit of that character.”
“Obviously you can’t deal with a character called Captain America without dealing with the thematics behind that, so we wanted a relevancy to it and we wanted to put him in a position where he was questioning the chain of command.”
14. The 6 different nomads
Most comic readers are aware that Steve Rogers had several successors in his role as Captain America. The most famous of these was James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, who sought to redeem himself for the crimes he committed as the brainwashed Winter Soldier by taking up Captain America’s shield following Steve Rogers’ apparent murder in the appropriately titled “The Death of Captain America”.
What few readers know, however, is that just as there were several Captain Americas who filled the void in Steve Rogers’ absences, so too were there five other people who adopted the name and weapons of Nomad. Some of them were men. Some of them were women. All of them were united by a feeling of not fitting into the world around them but still feeling the need to help others.
13. Two Nomads came from other worlds
Two of the heroes who adopted the Nomad mantle had very good reasons for feeling like a wanderer without a home. This is because they came from entirely different worlds than the standard Marvel Universe (i.e. Earth 616).
Rebecca “Rikki” Barnes was the fourth hero to use the name Nomad. She originally came from the third Counter Earth – an alternate reality where the events of Earth 616 played out in dramatically different ways. This Earth was created by the mutant Franklin Richards, whose power to alter reality led to his creating a pocket dimension where several of Earth’s heroes could be hidden from the villain Onslaught.
The fifth Nomad was born in Dimension Z – an otherworldly place where the laws of time and space function differently. Dimension Z was discovered by the mad geneticist Arnim Zola, who used it as a breeding ground for his experiments.
12. Two Nomads were Bucky first
There have also been several heroes who used the code name Bucky. Two of them went on to take the name of Nomad as well.
Jack Monroe was the second Bucky – a Captain America fan who was adopted by William Burnside, the second Captain America. The two made use of the Super Soldier formula that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. Without the proper treatment of vita-rays, however, the two were driven insane and put in suspended animation for several years. Jack eventually recovered and took up the mantle of Nomad with Steve Rogers’ encouragement.
Rebecca “Rikki” Barnes was the granddaughter of James “Bucky” Barnes in the reality of the third Counter Earth. She adopted her grandfather’s mantle and became Steve Rogers’ latest protégé during the “Heroes Reborn” event, before later becoming Nomad.
11. Hawkeye helped Steve Rogers become Nomad
While none of Steve Rogers’ allies in the Avengers truly accepted his decision to retire as Captain America in the wake of Secret Empire, only Hawkeye decided to offer Steve Rogers a solution to his moral dilemma. Naturally, Clint Barton being Clint Barton, he had to go for the trick shot and present that solution in the showiest way possible.
Disguising himself as The Golden Archer, Hawkeye took a few pot-shots at Steve Rogers from a rooftop. Allowing himself to be captured and unmasked, Hawkeye explained that he did what he did to show Steve how easy it was for one masked man to put on another mask and become someone else.
10. Steve Rogers kept tripping over his cape as Nomad
Decades before Edna Mode lectured Bob Parr upon the dangers of capes in superhero fashion in The Incredibles, Steve Rogers learned the dangers of loose fabric the hard way. The first version of Steve’s Nomad costume had a long, billowing cape.
While it looked impressive, what the cape offered in style it lacked in practicality.
It was a lesson that was driven home to Steve as he kept tripping over the cumbersome accessory before he finally ripped it off in frustration.
Most of the future Nomads would follow Steve’s example and skip the cape. The most notable exception was Jack Monroe, who wore the classic Nomad costume with the cape as he started out. Even when he abandoned the classic costume, he usually favored long trench-coats – the preferred cape substitute of 1990s anti-heroes – as part of his costume.
9. Steve Rogers was only Nomad for five issues
For all the importance that Steve Rogers’ assumption of the identity of Nomad has taken in Marvel Comics’ history, his time as Nomad was incredibly brief – only five issues!
Steve Rogers first donned his Nomad costume in Captain America #180 (December 1974). He would later reclaim his mantle as Captain America in Captain America #184 (April 1975), following the losses of several would-be replacement Caps who tried and failed to fill his red boots.
Steve Rogers took up the shield again, not out of guilt, but out of realization. Seeing how other men had taken up his cause made Steve realize the power of Captain America as a symbol. Rogers reasoned that rather than representing America as it was, he could serve as a symbol of what it should be!
8. The second Nomad was a Red Skull pawn
As short as Steve Rogers’ tenure as Nomad was, the second man to take up the name of Nomad spent even less time in the role – just three issues!
Edward Ferbel first appeared in Captain America #261 (September 1981). An out-of-work actor and stuntman, Ferbel was recruited to play the part of Nomad.
The Red Skull also hoped to lure Captain America to California, with the new Nomad as bait.
Failing that, he hoped the braggadocios Ferbel would help to discredit Captain America with the public.
The Red Skull quickly grew tired of Ferbel’s bumbling. The fake Nomad was taken out by The Ameridroid, in Captain America #263 (November 1981). Ferbel served The Red Skull far better when he was gone than he had in life, with the public blaming Captain America for failing to act in time to save Ferbel’s life.
7. The longest Nomad had a rough background
Jack Monroe had a rough life by any standard. Born to Nazi sympathizers whose status he unwittingly exposed after he took a swastika armband to school for show-and-tell, Jack was put into foster care. He was later adopted by William Burnside – a would-be Captain America, who took Jack in with the intent of turning him into his Bucky. The two would be driven mad by Burnside’s improper use of The Super Soldier Formula and placed in cryogenic suspension for several decades.
Monroe would later be discovered by Steve Rogers, who helped Jack get the treatment he needed. As much a man out of time as Steve was, Steve offered Jack the mantle of Nomad, thinking it would give him direction. Rogers’ decision proved a wise one.
6. The third Nomad was also a villain
Sadly, Jack Monroe’s life came to a tragic end. Knocked into a coma following an explosion, he was secretly cryogenically frozen by the government once again.
Jack was later revived by career bureaucrat and frequent X-Men foil Henry Gyrich, who used special nanites to take control of Jack’s mind, reprogramming him to act as a new Scourge of The Underworld – a vigilante who permanently eliminated various low-level super-villains. Monroe was set upon The Thunderbolts, who helped him to regain control of himself and turn the tables on Gyrich.
Later, Jack would be informed that The Super Soldier Formula was degenerating his body and there was nothing he could do. He spent the last year of his life drinking himself stupid, eventually being taken out by The Winter Soldier, who intended to use Jack as the scapegoat for a terrorist attack.
5. Bucky’s granddaughter was the fourth Nomad
Even by the standards of American comic books, Rebecca “Rikki” Barnes has an incredibly complicated origin story. Rikki was established as the granddaughter of “Bucky” Barnes on the third Counter Earth. This world was created by Franklin Richards, the mutant son of Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman, in order to save several heroes from being destroyed by the villain Onslaught.
Rikki introduced herself to Captain America and began training to become the new Bucky.
Rikki served her mentor with bravery and distinction, sacrificing herself as part of a ploy to lure Onslaught – who had traveled to the Counter Earth – into The Negative Zone.
Somehow, rather than being destroyed or condemned to oblivion, Rikki found herself on Earth 616 – a world where she couldn’t possibly exist because her grandfather never had children in that world! It was here she would eventually take up the name Nomad.
4. And she was a pawn of Onslaught
Rebecca “Rikki” Barnes’ life and history somehow became even more complicated after she took up the name of Nomad, which occurred in the mini-series Nomad: Girl Without A World. She would be mentored by the new Captain America, whom she had no idea was this world’s version of her grandfather, Bucky Barnes! She would also go on to establish a new version of the teen superhero group The Young Allies.
Rikki would later learn that she wasn’t really Rikki Barnes at all, but an artificial being created by Onslaught when he was trapped in The Negative Zone, as a last-ditch effort to give himself a lever into the reality of Earth 616. Rikki once again sacrificed herself to end the threat of Onslaught forever, in Onslaught Unleashed #4.
3. The fifth Nomad was Steve Roger’s adopted son
Shortly after becoming trapped in the strange world known as Dimension Z, Steve Rogers discovered a young baby in one of the mad scientist Arnim Zola’s labs. Steve adopted the boy, naming him Ian. Captain America had no idea that the boy he had taken in was Arnim Zola’s son, Leopold, whom his father had presumed gone following a lab accident.
Ian grew quickly in the accelerated time of Dimension Z, learning Steve Rogers’ idealism and belief in helping those who needed help. Picking up where his adopted father left off when Steve Rogers was sent back to Earth, Ian would grow to lead the free species of Dimension Z against Zola’s mutates.
2. American Dream became the sixth Nomad
In one of Earth 616’s alternate futures (a world that was later labeled Earth 982), Shannon Carter continued three heroic legacies.
The niece of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sharon Carter, Shannon was a huge Captain America fan.
Her encyclopedic knowledge of Steve Rogers’ life and the Avengers earned her a job as a tour guide for The Avengers Museum.
When events required the formation of a new Avengers team, the athletic and idealistic Shannon put herself forward as the American Dream. Though she lacked the enhanced physique of the original Captain America, Shannon was a master martial artist and a natural born leader. In time, she would prove herself more than worthy of wielding Steve Rogers’ shield.
1. He was name dropped in a Kevin Smith movie
When Kevin Smith made Chasing Amy in 1997, comic book culture had not yet achieved the relative wide-spread popularity that it has today. Superhero movies were a relatively rare thing and Tony Stark was not yet a household name. The idea of anyone making a movie that presented comic book creators and comic book fans as anything other than stereotypical losers was anathema to the Hollywood establishment.
Kevin Smith not only steeped Chasing Amy in comic book culture – he drowned the movie in it. Among the plethora of obscure comic references the movie contains is one off-hand mention of Nomad.
The final scene sees comic creator Banky (Jason Lee) having his ear chewed off by a fan, who is rambling about a comic club he once established. The fan rambles about how he eventually left the club to strike out on his own “kinda like Nomad.”
Is there some fascinating Nomad fact that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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