?When you’ve been around for roughly 70 years, life’s bound to throw you more than your fair share of bad days. And when you’re a scrawny 98-lb. weakling of a soldier who gets injected with a one-of-a-kind Super-Soldier serum that turns you into a perfect human specimen, who’s then wrapped in a United States flag before being sent off to fight an arsenal of bad guys with major facial disfigurements… well, you better believe you’ll see a ton of super craptastic moments.
Yes, being shot and killed is pretty bad (SPOILER ALERT: Even if it turns out you didn’t really die but were actually sent back in time). And having your supposedly long-dead teen sidekick come back as a re-programmed, Communist, cybernetic killing machine is also pretty tough to swallow. But even still, those things are a walk in the park compared to all the other crap Captain America’s been put through in his lengthy four-color career. Misery does love company, though. So to join in poor Steve Rogers’ suffering, here’s a rundown of the 10 suckiest moments in Captain America’s comic book history.
10) Of Cap-Wolves and Man
?Okay, fine. It did make for a cool visual cover but that’s about it. After villainess Nightshade injects Cap with some werewolf mutagenic cocktail, the Star-Spangled Avenger quickly turns into a true Howling Commando. He’s still a good guy fighting the good fight, only his body’s way hairier, his teeth are loads sharper, and his breath could move mountains. He still thinks like a Super-Soldier, he just can’t bark out orders anymore, he just barks. Which is why we get such captivating thought balloons as, “Words…in….head…. stuck…. in… throat.” If you think guest appearances by Wolverine, Wolfsbane, John Jameson, Feral and Jack Russell could save this sorry storyline, well, you deserve a silver bullet too. (“Man and Wolf,” Captain America #402-408)
9) Dude Looks Like a Lady
?Oh my stars and garters! Literally! Back in the WWII days, Captain America and his chipper young sidekick Bucky spent their “downtime” as soldiers in the U.S. Army. Their true identities were known by only a very select few, so when Private Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes needed to sneak out of camp to go find and rescue a rich, democratic bigwig like Henry Baldwin, they did what any of us would do: they played dress-up! Steve put on his Cap costume and then proceeded to dress like an extremely masculine grandmother, girdle and all. Poor Bucky didn’t fare much better with his sissy outfit, complete with blue hat and big red lollipop. The two kept up their charade on a plane ride overseas to Europe where they continued to hunt Baldwin down. Is there any doubt that M.A.S.H.’s cross-dressing Maxwell Klinger was a big Captain America fan? (Captain America Comics #2)
8) Just Say No
?In a story arc that’d make even Nancy Reagan proud, Cap’s latest battle took him to the streets, specifically smack into the middle of a meth lab. And, uh-oh, the lab went kablooey and a certain Star-Spangled Avenger somehow ended up a drug-crazed freak when the meth bonded to his Super-Soldier serum. Like all good drug addicts, Cap stopped shaving, became violent and short tempered, and soon started having all sorts of zany hallucinogenic antics! This is your Captain. This is your Captain on drugs. (“Streets of Poison”, Captain America #372-378)
7) Go-Go Gadget Cap!
?Captain America faced quite possibly his toughest foe ever in the excruciatingly painful “Fighting Chance” storyline: a bad wardrobe. Like all good athletes who risk their bodies for the glory of Nike promotions, superheroes’ bodies are just as vulnerable to abuse. Decades of abusing his body and flooding it with swimming pools full of adrenaline apparently pushed Cap’s body too far. The Super-Soldier serum could no longer replenish his enhanced physique, and he quickly began to weaken. Basically it got to the point where the more active Cap was, the closer he came to full paralysis and even death. To counter his dying body, Cap actually resorted to wearing a battle vest with all sorts of gimmicks on it like gas-spewing airbags and metal springs. If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, things got so bad that he eventually was forced to wear full-on armor to protect his wussy self. (“Fighting Chance”, Captain America #425-443)
6) Old Farts
?That Red Skull. He’s such a tool. It seems the effects from the gas he used to stay in suspended animation were finally wearing off and, BAM, his body rapidly aged him to what the Nazi scumbag’s true age should have been. So what’d he do next? Oh, he just launched an elaborate plot that ended with Captain America undergoing a medical treatment to age the hero to his normal age too. That’s when the two octogenarians had themselves a true battle to the death! Seriously? This was one of Cap’s finest moments? The guy’s biggest defensive shield was now a box of Depends. Even lamer, the battle ended when Cap beat the Skull, who pleaded to die at the hands of the Avenger. But Cap just stood there and let the Skull’s feeble body just shut down on its own. (Captain America #297-300)
5) Barely Making It to First Base
?He can take on Thanos, he can die numerous times, and he continually sacrifices himself without a second thought. But going on a date? With a… girl? Yeah, that’s something that ol’ Steve Rogers could barely muster. After working with former Serpent Society baddie Diamondback on a number of adventures, Cap let the pink-haired babe down by telling her he didn’t need or want a partner. So they agreed to just be friends. That lasted all of five seconds before Diamondback just flat-out asked Cap on a date. And the old warhorse actually said yes! So where did our two secret-identitied lovebirds go on their first date? Why, to Cap’s ex-girlfriend’s favorite restaurant, of course! And when they found out it was closed, they went for Mexican instead. (Reservations, assemble!) That studly move was followed up with a magic show. No, really! And after a long, mostly uneventful night, at least Cap was sure to get some, right? Diamondback’s 500% into the guy. He’s friggin’ Captain America, for crying out loud. And she asked HIM out. He’s soooo totally going to score. And… uh… what? The night ended with a super-short, super-awkward kiss? That’s it?!? Love stinks. (Captain America #371)
4) Let’s Do the Time Warp Again
?Cap and mysticism mix as much as taste and fat free mayonnaise. So when Captain America accepts an odd invitation from the sorcery master Mister Buda, you better believe the Shield-Slinger’s in for quite the ride. Thanks to a psychic-talisman that Buda secretly places in Cap’s hand, the Avenger finds himself bouncing through American history starting back in the days of the Revolutionary War. He quickly meets Ben Franklin, who’s simply amazed and inspired by Cap’s costume. So much so, in fact, that he quickly sketches a flag based on it, and shares it with Betsy Ross to create a flag for the Continental Army. So yes, True Believers, Captain America’s very costume was the inspiration for the American Flag, which later went on to inspire Captain America’s costume. Induce paradox headache! (Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles – Marvel Treasury Special)
3) That Time of the Month
?So this crazy, ultra-feminist villain named Superia wanted to create a world ruled by women. Naturally, she called it Femizonia. Her plan? Simple: shoot a few missiles into space where they’d explode and release microbiological weapons called “Sterility Seeds”. Her brilliant plan was to sterilize almost the entire female population of Earth. But before doing that she’d gather the strongest, smartest and most powerful women in the world and keep them safe in her hermetically sealed dome around Superia Island. [Did I really just write that? -Auth.] Countries would have no choice but to cave to her every whim merely to ensure the survival of the human race. Toss in Captain America, Paladin, a female M.O.D.O.K. (called M.O.D.A.M.) and you’ve got one ridiculously suck-filled moment in Captain America’s life. Y’see, here’s a guy who grew up in the Depression surrounded by conservative women. Suddenly he finds himself prisoner on the S.S. Superia cruise ship with over 50 super-villain women. And what are they literally seconds from doing to him? Turning him from a “Man Out of Time” into a “Woman out of Time.” Superia subjected him to her feminization treatments which would’ve changed Cap from an outtie to an innie if not for the timely intervention of a few super-villain babes who thought Superia was just a wee bit off her rocker. (“Superia Strategem”, Captain America #387-392 )
2) Showing His True Colors
?Funny what a little brainwashing can do. After spending some time with good ol’ baddies Dr. Faustus and the Grand Director, Cap apparently had his racist eyes opened. Not only did Cap start talking crazy about a strong and pure America, but the superhero puppet did something you would never expect to see him do: carry around a shield with a huge swastika on it! Talk about your major fashion faux pas. Thankfully, Daredevil happened upon the scene to snap Cap out of it before the Shield-Slinger realized what a giant hypocrite he’d become. (Captain America #234)
1) Heroes Reborn
?Cheap shot? Sure. Necessity on any “Crappy Cap” list? Absolutely. It wasn’t bad enough that Rob Liefeld got the reigns on completely redesigning Captain America for the big “Heroes Reborn” crossover event in the mid-’90s. Not only did he replace the iconic “A” on Cap’s forehead with what looks like Wonder Woman’s eagle icon from her costume, but he decided to play with Cap’s physique to the point of absurdity. Yeah, even Power Girl was jealous of Cap’s chesticles.
About the Author: Andrew Kardon is the former Executive Editor of ToyFare and Anime Insider magazines. He’s currently the president and co-founder of JoeShopping.com, a coupons and deals website. He’s also a monstrously huge Captain America fan, with a life-size custom-made shield hanging in his office. He prays daily that the new Captain America movie doesn’t suck big ones.