The Man-Thing’s disappearance just led Captain America to be haunted by the twisted versions of himself that he has faced over and over again.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing # 1 by Steve Orlando, Francesco Mobili, Guru-eFX, and VC’s Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Since his introduction to the Marvel Universe four decades ago, Man-Thing has been one of the most impactful characters out there. The combination of a tragic accident, experimental science, and mystical energies transformed Ted Sallis from an extraordinary scientist into a literal force of nature as Man-Thing.
Now, a new threat has emerged attempting to turn the Man-Thing’s powers into a weapon they can harness to wipe humanity off the map, and one of the first caught in the line of fire is none other than Captain America himself. Caught somewhere between subconscious minds, Cap has just faced ghosts from his past. Specifically, the ones who tried to take his place.
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William Burnside, Captain America of the 1950s, made his first appearance in 1953. Youths #24 in the chapter “Back From the Dead” by Don Rico, John Romita and Mort Lawrence. William was a boy when Steve Rogers was created, and after Captain America’s apparent death in 1945, William became obsessed with finding him. In his search, he discovered a copy of the Super Soldier Serum, which he brought to the United States government on the condition that he be the next Captain America. William changed his name and underwent cosmetic surgery to become Steve Rogers in every way, although the imperfect serum would eventually drive him crazy and land him in a cryogenic prison, at least for a time. Always on the brink of losing his cool and unstable on every level, Bucky Barnes believed he had killed William during their last confrontation, but has secretly been put into intensive care for a second chance at a civilian life.
First introduced in 1986 Reckless # 232, Frank Simpson Was Born In The Arms Of A Rich And Abusive Family. Desperate for affection, Frank was goaded on by his nanny to murder his own mother, which set the tone for the rest of his life. Frank’s life only got worse when Wolverine, then part of Weapon X, was sent to dispatch Frank’s father and the new mother figure, as well as to bring him back for another clandestine operation. Tortured and brainwashed by Wolverine, Frank took on the name Nuke as he went through the Vietnam War with an insatiable bloodlust, committing horrific atrocities along the way. Although he never took up the mantle proper, Nuke has always considered himself a champion of his country just like Captain America, causing them to come to blows whenever they meet.
The Anti-Captain America
The first appearance of the as yet unnamed Anti-Captain America was as recent as 2004 in Captain America and the Falcon # 1 by Christopher Priest and Bart Sears. Like Steve Rogers before him, this mysterious figure was rejected from the US military for being unfit, only to undergo experimental procedures and become a super soldier himself. When his Navy handlers began to lose control of their asset, they put the Anti-Cap on a collision course with Falcon and the real Captain America, who surprisingly decided to try to help the anonymous soldier overcome his addiction to drugs that he they gave their powers. Unfortunately, the drug recalls were almost as bad as the psychosis they induced, and Anti-Cap would continue to torment the heroes until he finally took his own life instead of falling back into government control.
Introduced in 2000 Captain America # 28 By Dan Jurgens and Andy Kubert, Clinton McIntyre was an Army recruit who was experimented on by dishonest members of the higher command after it was discovered that he had killed his commanding officer. When this process killed him, he was left in a warehouse to be discovered by whoever it was next, who turned out to be an AIM agent working within SHIELD. with false memories and with the name of Protocide. Believing that he had been personally chosen to be Captain America, Protocide was used as AIM’s and HYDRA’s pawn until his apparent death, though he appears to have found a new lease of life by hiding as a civilian.
It was Ted’s attempt to create another Captain America that led him to his final destination, but meeting the real Captain America was one of the last things he had wanted. While Ted was the one who saved Captain America from the demonstrations of the impostors that had tormented him, he is not at all happy with the situation. The fact that Cap’s recreation led to this causes Ted to blame Steve Rogers for his situation in the first place, for losing everything he ever had. Still, Cap is willing to help, but Ted’s selfish nature makes him feel like he’s not the man to do it himself. On top of all this comes the revelation that Ted wasn’t the one who created the serum in the first place, creating a new mystery that revolves around one of Marvel’s most curious characters.
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