Marvel comics Captain America has been around a long time and has become a staple of the superhero universe. In recent years, he has captured the attention of a new fandom with the blockbuster movies featuring his character with the latest box office smash being Captain America Civil War. He is a one of a kind character who has fought countless battles against a variety of enemies throughout the years. There are very few superheroes who have seen past, present, and future dilemmas as Captain America has. From fighting Nazis in World War II to battling his own friend in the present Captain America has certainly seen it all.
Trimming these stories down to the five best Captain America stories of all-time is a daunting task and will undoubtedly invoke discussion and backlash. Nevertheless, here are five of the classic and essential Captain America stories in no particular order.
Captain America: Death of the Red Skull by J.M. DeMatteis, Bill Mantlo, Michael Ellis, and Mike Carlin
Red Skull is considered one of Captain America’s greatest foes making this particular story a must read for all Captain America fans. Not only does this 2012 story chronicle the epic battle between Cap and Red Skull, but also highlights a handful of other classic Captain America foes such as Baron Zemo, and Sin, Red Skull’s daughter.
What makes this comic great is how it portrays Red Skull in particular. It uniquely shows what makes Red Skull such a nasty villain. Not only does Red Skull hate Captain America, but also has a profound hatred of pacifists, homosexuals, Jewish people, and African-Americans. The defeat of Red Skull by Captain America, knowing how bad a person he is makes reading this story all the more fulfilling.
Captain America: Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker
Though most will know this title from the blockbuster movie it was certainly around a few years before and is one the best Captain America comic book stories around. Written by Ed Brubaker in 2006, which you will see again on this list, the story focuses on one of the more crucial characters in the Captain America universe, Bucky Barnes. If you don’t know Bucky Barnes, he was Cap’s friend who supposedly died while helping Cap fight the Nazis.
Of course, I don’t want to spoil too much, but the return of Bucky as the Winter Soldier in this comic provides readers with a great story filled with action, plot twists, espionage, and corruption. Many recurring characters appear in this comic and it superbly ties in aspects of Captain America’s past with his present condition.
Civil War by Mark Millar
Another blockbuster Captain America movie based on this comic, it makes our list because it has a little bit of everything. Written by Mark Millar in 2007, it’s a fantastic book which offers readers great crossover appearances from other Marvel superheroes, which fans of the series love to see. The story revolves around the Superhuman Registration Act that would force anyone with super powers to register their identity with the government. This, of course, allows for quite a bit of resentment from the superhero community and Captain America in particular.
Without giving too much away, the story ultimately pits Captain America against Iron Man in an epic battle. What specifically makes this particular story stand out is that many of the characters make crucial decisions fans didn’t see coming. It pits friends against friends which makes it an intriguing story from start to finish.
The Death of Captain America by Ed Brubaker
Written by Ed Brubaker in 2007, it’s perhaps one of his finest works to date, this Captain America story deals with the death of Steve Rogers, amongst other things. It’s an emotionally gripping story which details the passionate responses of other major Marvel characters as they try and cope with the death of their dear friend. It isn’t all sadness and tears, as Brubaker spins a great tale of redemption as well. It’s hard to explain the plot of the story without spoiling too much, but let’s just say there are plenty of plot twists and unforeseen consequences throughout its wonderfully told story.
The comic received critical and commercial success. It was one of highest selling comics of 2007 and is more than likely going to be made into another blockbuster Captain America movie. Don’t quote me on that, though.
Captain America: Castaway in Dimension Z by Rick Remender
Written in 2013 by Rick Remender, this utterly wild tale makes the list because it’s totally different than previously written Captain America stories. You may think this would be off-putting for some Captain America fans, but in fact, it garnered much praise from critics and fans alike.
Unlike the typical action/espionage tales we are used to seeing Captain America involved in, this one is more science fiction with Cap being transported to another dimension. Though it seems a bit absurd and indeed it may be, this story shines because of its absurdity. The story is the most brutal and violent of the series and asks fans to answer the question of how far can you physically and emotionally push Cap before he quits. The answer to this question ultimately lies with the pages of this fantastic entry to the Captain America franchise.
In conclusion, this list is certainly not meant to be the end all be all of what fans of Captain America should read. Rather, it’s a list meant to inspire discussion and debate of one of our favorite superhero franchises. I understand that I put the comics the blockbuster movies were based on in this list and that is because they were popular enough to garner interest from Hollywood because of their intriguing and connected stories. There are certainly other fantastic Captain America comics that are not on this list and perhaps should be. I admit that and expect people to disagree with my choices. It’s all in good fun and I look forward to similar lists.