As I’ve been reading Cap for most of my life and he’s finally getting the Hollywood treatment he deserves (as opposed to the atrocity of 1990), I thought now would be a good time to rummage through my archives and pick… oh, 10 – that sounds good – the 10 best issues of Captain America from 1968 to today. Rather than say that any issue is better than any other, I’ll just start from today and take it back to the good old days.
Best Issues of Captain America
Captain America #36, Vol 5 2008
“The Burden of Dreams: Part Six” features Bucky’s fight with Crossbones – I love the moment when Crossbones reacts, “FREAKIN’ STABBED ME!” after Bucky does so, and he replies, “An’ that’s just… the beginning… …You aren’t leaving this building…” It’s such a memorable moment: Crossbones can’t grasp the idea of fighting a Captain America who would stab him, and we’re already seeing that Bucky Barnes isn’t going to live in Steve Rogers’ shadow.
Captain America #25, Vol 5 2007
I probably don’t have to tell you that “The Death of the Dream” chronicles the death of Steve Rogers, in all of it’s painful glory. I thought this would ruin Cap forever, but I loved Bucky’s run as Cap, and the death of Rogers only solidified his place and importance to the Marvel Universe.
Captain America #14, Vol 5 2006
“The Winter Solider” story arc comes to a close when Cap finally gets control of the cosmic cube and uses the command, “Remember who you are,” to restore Bucky’s memories. When Bucky’s mind is restored to its original state, we get that fantastic two page spread of his mind reconnecting with who he is -its a wonderful image. And suddenly, he’s the guy we always heard about. It doesn’t last long, but its an ending and a beginning all at once.
Captain America #17-19, Vol 3 1999
When you’re Captain America, sometimes you get the emergency call, punch the bad guy in the face and just head back home. Other times, Korvac shows up and sends you through a bout of crazy time travel and punishment. This arc reminds me a bit of a Star Trek The Next Generation episode called Time Squared, as Korvac sends us forward in time, slightly backwards to try again (and again, and again!), and then all the way back to the pivotal moment that started the time traveling to begin with… what a great arc. I love how no matter how many times Korvac would reset time, he could never break Steve Rogers’ spirit, no matter what he tried.
Captain America #1, Vol 2 1999
The first issue of Heroes Reborn for Cap featured a bold new origin story with art the likes of which Cap fans had never seen. It was a fascinating re imagining of Steve Rogers’ history and his relationship with the government. I tend to think of this version of Steve Rogers as the template for Ultimate Captain America.
Captain America #445, Vol 1 1995
To say that Mark Waid taking the reigns of Captain America was a breath of fresh air after Mark Gruenwald’s 10 year reign of terror is a bit of an understatement. This issue marks the beginning of the Operation Rebirth arc and the totally unexpected return of Sharon Carter after twenty plus year absence – its crazy.
Captain America #332, Vol 1 1987
“The Choice,” details Steve Rogers’ decision to voluntarily give up his role as Captain America rather than work directly for the federal government instead of acting as an independent agent as he had since his revival from suspended animation. Things got a little silly in the aftermath, but this is probably the best issue of Mark Gruenwald’s run.
Captain America #298, Vol 1 1984
“Sturm und Drang: The Life and Times of the Red Skull!” is exactly that – the life story of Johann Schmidt, from birth to present day, in all its unpleasantness. His parents, his first love (and first murder), Hitler, his own suspended animation, the birth of his daughter… it’s a great issue, but then, everything from #290 to 300 is great – this arc of Captain America’s ‘final battle’ with the Red Skull is epic!
Captain America #180, Vol 1 1974
“The Coming of the Nomad,” is yet another time when Steve Rogers gives up his identity as Captain America, this time to become The Nomad, a guise that has been handed down all the way to its present holder, Rikki Barnes. It’s a three issue arc that includes a wonderful moment when Steve steps on his cape, falls and the bad guys get away. How great is that?
Captain America #111, Vol 1 1969
Innovative might be the best way to describe “Tomorrow You Live, Tonight I Die!!” From the first page, art by Jim Steranko will blow your mind and the writing by Stan Lee will remind you why comics are awesome and that they’ve always been awesome! Cap fights Hydra and regains his secret identity, all in one issue! Hey, he’s Captain America – he’s just that good!
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