Captain America’s most tragic variant was an outcast on Earth X
Cap’s adventures in the world of Earth X defending his seemingly outdated values while losing friends and battling frightening new enemies.
Like most Marvel characters, Captain America has had different interpretations and alternate reality counterparts over the years. Almost all of them represented the United States of America at their best, making Steve Rogers the physical embodiment of the ideals that shaped the United States. This was featured recently in Marvel’s What if?… TV series, where Steve Rogers was edited to meet the principles that define him in a radically different way.
There is, however, a version of the Captain, whose twilight had a particularly dark last glow. Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and John Paul Leon Earth X was a dark Marvel timeline that saw a powerful world without freedom and former heroes without a rudder. Cap’s adventures in the world of Earth X saw him defend his seemingly outdated values while losing friends and battling creepy new enemies in a way that made him more tragic than ever.
Captain America in Earth X
Steve Rogers’ life on Earth-9977 was largely similar to what it was in the main Marvel Universe to a point where he had been the Super-Soldier hero known as Captain America. It started to diverge for the worse, however, when he was briefly captured and mentally tortured by the Red Skull. The Red Skull claimed that Project: Rebirth was actually a Nazi experiment conducted under the guise of helping the Allies, and that Captain America was therefore Hitler’s only true son. The Red Skull would follow this by attacking and even killing those he deemed unfit to be a part of Captain America’s life. After an ancient flame of his met this spell, Captain America responded by beheading the Red Skull with his shield.
The world of Earth-X was quickly massively altered by the release of Terrigen Mists, which has mutated nearly all of humanity beyond recognition and plunged the world into anarchy. Captain America, who used to call himself simply Cap, had long left the Avengers, and many of his former teammates were subsequently killed. Norman Osborn became President of the United States, using his resources and even those of former ally Iron Man and his Iron Avengers to hunt down the Wayward Cape.
Cap and his new partner Red Wing – Marvel’s mainstay Wyatt Wingfoot in a hawk costume – then came together to fight the Hydra, a consciousness collective caused by parasites that control their host. Red Wing, however, soon came under the control of the Skull, a psychic teenager with immense mind control abilities who wore a black shirt with a red version of the Punisher emblem. This fascist controller of the masses was essentially the rebirth of the Red Skull, and the initial attack on his mental abilities elicited a telepathic reaction that killed nearly every other Marvel telepath, including Professor X. Along with several other heroes from Much older yesteryear, Cap led an assault on the skull, eventually forced to sneak in and kill the young boy.
Captain America in the X Universe
This incident had a hard effect on Cap’s already waning resolve, especially since Skull had hitherto taunted Rogers like an outdated old man. The irony of the Red Skull rebirth being a blond individual killed by another such man was not lost on Cap either. In honor of the mentally unhinged and lost young man, Cap posthumously named him James, in honor of his former sidekick James “Bucky” Buchannan Barnes.
Captain America would later become the guardian of the reincarnated child Mar-Vell, visiting the realm of mortals to prepare the living for war with the realm of the dead. In order to help Mar-Vell escape long enough for help to come, Cap sacrifices himself by allowing a host of attackers to focus on him and a decoy Mar-Vell. He later joined the Realm of the Dead, still believing he was actually alive.
In the last part of the trilogy, Paradise X, the spirit of Cap became one of the avenging angels made up of the spirits of former heroes, as well as that of others like the Punisher and his family. Although he initially worked with the restored Mar-Vell, he soon saw how tyrannical he had become and fought against him before living the rest of his eternity in Heaven with his family.
All in all, it was an incredibly sad life for Cap, as his loyalty and truths were tested around every corner. His old friends and allies were killed easily or worse yet, turned against their normal inhibitions to become the insane drones of the Hydra or the Skull. It was the ultimate manifestation of the loss of freedom in the land he once served so well, especially with the coming to power of Norman Osborn. Nevertheless, this Steve Rogers always fought valiantly until the end, even if each turn was an increasingly difficult challenge.
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