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Captain America was one of the most popular characters that Marvel Comics (then known as Timely) had during the Golden Age of Comic Books. He was, if not the first, certainly the most prominent and enduring of a wave of patriotically themed superheroes that American comic book companies introduced just prior to and during World War II. With his sidekick Bucky, Captain America faced Nazis and Japanese troops during his 1940s heyday, but after the end of the war, his main reason for existence (as a fictional war hero) was gone, and the character's popularity faded. Bucky disappeared from the comic in 1948 and was replaced by Captain America's girlfriend, Betty Ross, or Golden Girl. By the end of 1949, after the publication of Captain America's Weird Tales #74, Captain America had disappeared from comic book pages.
He was briefly revived, along with the original Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, by Marvel's 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, in Young Men #24 (December 1953) as an anti-Communist superhero. Captain America made several appearances over the next year in Young Men and Men's Adventures, as well as in three issues of his eponymous title, but sales were poor. After the publication of Captain America #78 (September 1954), the character disappeared again. In the 1970s, this version of Captain America would be retconned into a separate character—not Steve Rogers—who briefly took up the mantle.
In 1964, by which point Atlas had evolved into Marvel Comics, Captain America was revived with the explanation that he had fallen from an experimental drone plane into the North Atlantic in the final days of the war and spent the past decades frozen in a state of suspended animation. (Retellings sometimes place the event over the English Channel.) The hero found a new generation of readers as the leader of the all-star group the Avengers and in a new solo series. Since then, Captain America has been a much more serious and less jingoistic hero. Writers have used the character to reflect the conflict between politics and ideology by placing him at odds with the United States government and angry and troubled about the state of the country. He considers himself dedicated to defending America’s ideals rather than its political leadership, a conviction summed up when Captain America confronted an army general who tried to manipulate him by appealing to his loyalty. Rogers responded, "I'm loyal to nothing, General.. except the Dream." (Daredevil #233, August 1986)
Marvel has repeatedly revised the Captain America continuity; the character's unbreakable ties to a specific time period make it particularly difficult for the series to avoid conspicuous anomalies and inconsistencies.
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