Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!
In 1952, World War II veteran Peggy Carter finds herself a bit bored until Howard Stark sends an armed man into her house with a request for a meeting. Howard’s got some interesting business happening in Russia and wants Peggy to come along for the ride.
Once in country, Peggy meets Tania who claims to be her guide but isn’t. The two of them join up with Stark who introduces them to a mercenary named Woodrow McCord who’s been working for the millionaire. He also has a piece of alien tech in his possession that Stark can’t keep his hands off of, leading to an apparent extraterrestrial attack.
Though part of the story unfolding takes place in Howard’s head, the threat remains real, leading Carter, Stark, Tania, and McCord on a trip further into Russia to track down a possible alien craft. While in a small village, Woodward reveals his rocket-powered suit built by Stark to go after a bear who turns out to be a shapeshifter called Mikhail Uriokovitc.
After revealing himself as a human, Mikhail leads the group towards a spaceship that can only be seen in the daylight. Once aboard the craft, the group fly headlong towards a nearby Hydra base where Russian scientists like Anton Vanko research portal technology under duress.
With all of our players together we see Hydra’s portal opened to a being called Xanth, a living black hole who wants back his mate, a refugee on Earth going by Shareen who works with Vanko. Victory only comes after Shareen sacrifices her heart to distract the invading entity. Once that’s done, the Russian army appears to send everyone back to their respective duties.
While this story works very well on its own as a nice sci-fi thriller, it also features plenty of Marvel Universe players in their early days. Mikhail, Tania, and Shareen eventually become known as Ursa Major, Starlight, and Firefrost. Anton Vanko also comes to be known as the original Crimson Dynamo. And, of course, Woody McCord teams up with Howard Stark to secretly defend the Earth against alien invasions, eventually bringing in a kid named Nick Fury to take over as seen in ORIGINAL SIN #5.
Kathryn Immonen wrote another story featuring Peggy Carter, a one-shot called CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FIRST 13 drawn by Ramon Perez. The intro explains that Peggy left her cushy, rich family to join the French Resistance well before the U.S. actually entered the war. This particular story takes place in 1943 as Captain America attempts to take possession of a Japanese thermal ray from an American spy in a Nazi outfit that goes sideways, thanks in part to some of Carter’s plans. The mission to get plans out of the country that follows almost pales in comparison to the romantic heat felt between Cap and Peggy afterwards. Even though they both know it might not last, they still cling to one another in a time of darkness and war. Though they pledge to catch up when the conflict finally ends, we all know how that story ends and it’s not a happy one.
Next, Jack Kirby once again draws an epic adventure known as The Swine in CAPTAIN AMERICA #206-214 pitting the Avenger against his oldest foe, the Red Skull.