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Sentinel of liberty. Super soldier. Living legend of World War II. Man out of time.

Captain America's all of these things, and more. Much, much more. Against all odds he's waged a war against those who would prey upon the innocent and squash our liberties, and oftentimes with little or no thanks. Steve Rogers rose up from the humblest of beginnings to take on the mantle of freedom that the United States fought so hard to achieve, and as the embodiment of that ideal, he continues that struggle to this day.

Cap's life stands as an example of heroism and patriotism -- for that reason alone, Earth's other heroes look up to him, even those more powerful. Countless times has he served as a rallying symbol for our champions to fight on and win the day for liberty and justice.

Essential Captain America -- Article Continues After Slideshow

The Man With the Plan Dr. Abraham Erskine chose skinny Steve Rogers out of many seemingly more-suitable candidates for his Super Soldier experiment, Project: Rebirth, and from his process rose a new champion -- Captain America. Given a colorful red-white-and-blue costume, an indestructible shield and military training, Steve leapt bravely into battle on the homefront and overseas to help America turn the tide in World War II. Soon, a young man named Bucky joined him as his partner and together they brought hope to millions that the war might be brought to a successful end.

Captain America could be found on battlefields across the many theatres of World War II, either on solo missions or as part of the Invaders, a wartime team of super heroes. He gained many foes in those days, chief among them the diabolical Red Skull and the evil Baron Zemo, but Cap beat them all -- until the fateful day when a struggle with Zemo cost him Bucky and his own freedom. Plunged into icy waters while escaping an explosion, Captain America found himself frozen in suspended animation. The war ended without him and Steve slept on through the decades, unaware of the many changes the world would endure throughout his deep slumber.

Second Life In the present day, the mighty Avengers, a modern team of heroes, stumbled upon an amazing find while searching for a foe: Captain America, frozen in ice. Reviving him, the heroes informed the World War II veteran of what had happened to him and then welcomed him into their ranks. So dutifully did Cap serve in the Avengers that eventually he was awarded founding member status, an honour he cherishes and respects. Many times he's led the team into battle, on Earth, in space and even other dimensions, and each time he's acted with dignity and leadership, making him an indispensable teammate. Captain America also joined forces with S.H.I.E.L.D., a governmental spy agency led by his old wartime pal Nick Fury.

Though these alliances helped to acclimate Steve to his new world, still the memory of all those he'd lost in the past haunted him. The pain of Bucky's seeming death led Cap to take on other partners, including young Rick Jones as a new Bucky, and then the Falcon, who operated for many years at the hero's side, through thick and thin.

Stress of the Job Throughout Captain America's modern-day career, he's encountered situations that have taxed him to his limits and beyond. As both a symbol of America and a full-time Avenger, Steve found himself in stressful encounters that would have crippled ordinary men. As a result, his convictions have been tested time and time again and also led him down strange paths.

After one particularly stressful mission against the Secret Empire, Steve gave up his Captain America identity and operated as Nomad, a country-less champion. On another occasion, the American government seized the mantle of Captain America and awarded it to another man. No matter the struggle and no matter how stressful, Cap's always come back to once again continue in his tireless mission.

Crimson Tide Above all others, Captain America's most wicked and eternal nemesis answered to the name of Red Skull. Originally a lowly bellhop in Nazi Germany, the Skull's commission as a villain came from Adolf Hitler himself, and from there he became the world's most heinous manipulator and murderer. Cap fought the Skull throughout World War II and held him at bay countless times, but so too did the villain manage to survive into modern times and continue to plague the good Captain at every turn.

During one climatic battle, the Red Skull's aging body finally failed him and he died, but his many plans and schemes lived on to trouble and torment Captain America. The Skull transferred his consciousness into other bodies, including a cloned body of Steve Rogers himself, and today his machinations live on in Sin, his devilish daughter.

Death and New Life After the strange appearance of the Winter Soldier, a Russian operative who turned out to be a still-alive Bucky, Captain America found himself at odds with his fellow Avenger Iron Man during the so-called "Civil War" among Earth's superheroes. At the very pinnacle of this struggle, Cap, who'd been arrested for leading a resistance against a government registration of costumed heroes, became the victim of an assassin. Steve Rogers died on the steps of a courthouse, the tragic target of a labyrinthian scheme by his old foe, the Red Skull.

Bucky, now freed from his Russian conditioning to be a killer, took up the mantle and shield of Captain America and continued Steve's mission. He eventually discovered that Steve's consciousness tumbled through time and, with the help of the Avengers and other heroes, Bucky managed to save his beloved mentor and return him to life. Steve operated for a short time after that as a covert agent, but soon returned to the role he'd been born to play: Captain America.

Avengers Anew With Steve's return as Captain America, the Avengers also rose from the ashes of their dissembling and forged a new alliance of heroism. At first, the new team operated with Bucky as Cap and Steve behind the scenes with a group of Secret Avengers, but the real, original Captain America finally took his rightful place in the ranks of Earth's mightiest heroes, where he once again leads them into battle against many varied villains and menaces.