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The Grand Director
Grand Director.jpg
Grand Director.
Art by Steve Epting.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Captain America #153 (September, 1972). (Captain America stories from Young Men #24 (Dec 1953) through to 1964 later ascribed to the character)
Created by as "Steve Rogers II/Captain America of 1950s" :
Steve Englehart
Sal Buscema
as "The Grand Director":
Roger McKenzie
Jim Shooter
In-story information
Alter ego Steve Rogers
Team affiliations United States Government
National Force
Notable aliases Captain America
Abilities Superhuman strength, peak physical athletic ability

The "Captain America of the 1950s", also referred to as the "The Grand Director", is a fictional character in Marvel Comics' Universe. He was created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Sal Buscema in Captain America #153-156 (September-December, 1972) as having been a specifically different Captain America, the Captain America introduced in 1953 in Young Men comics.

After the above storyline, the character was given a new white costume and the title "The Grand Director" by Buscema and writers Roger McKenzie and Jim Shooter in Captain America #232 (April, 1979) and altered to be a villain.

The 1950s Rogers has refuted his tenure as the Grand Director[1] who was under mind control at the time and has returned to being active as the "Captain America of the 1950s" separate from the formally current Captain America, James "Bucky" Barnes. The 1950s Rogers has not formally joined the Superheroes Registration Act in the current Marvel Universe, though is known to the US Government as a one-time agent of the FBI.

Contents

Publication history

A character with a complicated history, The Grand Director's origin lies in discrepancies that crept up in the history of Captain America.

As a character, Captain America had been continuously published until 1949. He was then unsuccessfully revived in 1953 in Young Men #24–28 (Dec. 1953 – May 1954) by Stan Lee with Mort Lawrence and John Romita, Sr. These stories starred the original Captain America and were clearly set in the 1950s, with the character prominently battling communism and a communist Red Skull.

However when Lee revived the Captain America concept a second time in 1964 he chose to ignore his own previous stories (in some interviews Lee claims to have simply forgotten the brief 1950s revival). When he has the character return in Avengers #4 (March, 1964) Lee reveals that the original Captain America has been in a state of suspended animation since a battle he fought near the close of World War II.

The 1950s stories were thus considered outside of official canon until Englehart's 1972 Captain America storyline which attempted to resolve the discrepancy by revealing how an unnamed man and his teenaged student had assumed both the public and private identities of the original Captain America and Bucky as part of a government-sponsored program which planned to replace the lost heroes to combat the "red threat". The government eventually places them in suspended animation in the mid-1950s only for them to be revived decades later in contemporary times to battle the original Captain America. This complicated origin is the reason that some sources list Young Men #24 as The Director's first appearance.

A 1977 story, What If Vol. 1 #4, (August, 1977), introduces two other Captain Americas (William Naslund, appointed by Truman in 1945 to succeed the original Captain America, and Jeff Mace, who succeeds Naslund as Cap in the spring of 1946 after Naslund gets killed in action). Originally part of a What If? story, these characters were later adapted as iterations of Captain America in formal canon. [2]

The '50s Captain America was known for a time as Captain America IV. But in later years, yet earlier "Captain Americas" were introduced, obscuring the numbering of the various Captain Americas, though most of these other later-introduced Captains are not formally part of the recognized linage (such as the Revolutionary War-era ancestor of Steve Rogers). Many recognize this character today with the specific terms "1950s Captain America" or "Captain America of the 1950s" and "Grand Director" to distinguish him from the World War II Steve Rogers, as his birth name has never been revealed. He legally changed his name to "Steve Rogers" in the 1950s, and only refers to himself by this name, never by his birth name.

Fictional character biography

Having idolized the original Cap to the point of obsession, the future 50s Captain America focuses his life in an intense analysis of American history with Captain America as its best representative. He attains a PhD in American History in the early 1950s (some text say 1952), with a thesis on the life of Captain America. Soon after graduating, he further researched the secret "Project: Rebirth" and discovered private Nazi files revealing the true identity of the original Captain America as well as the lost Super Soldier serum formula.

The man who would later become the Grand Director returns to the United States with this information and legally changes his name. Then he approaches the FBI offering the Super Soldier serum as leverage to become the next Captain America as a symbol during the Korean War.

He undergoes surgery to get the physical appearance and voice of Rogers. But after all of this preparation, the situation in Korea changes and the FBI cancels the project.

The FBI sets up the new Rogers at the private preparatory Lee High School in Connecticut to take advantage of his extensive American history background as a teacher. He began wearing glasses and smoking a pipe and settled into his quiet life as a teacher. But he found an intense advocate in James "Jack" Monroe who shared his obsessive fascination on the wartime exploits of the original Cap. When the Red Skull resurfaces in the mid-1950s (This communist Red Skull was not the Nazi original but a successor) attacking the United Nations in an elaborate scheme now promoting Communism, "Rogers" takes matters into his own hands and injects himself and Monroe with a sample of the unproven "Super-Soldier Formula" and goes off with him to confront the Red Skull as the new Cap and Bucky. However, without the vita-ray exposure Rogers received to activate and stabilize the serum, his 1950s successors underwent a dangerously flawed application.[3]

Although initially accepted in the roles of the new Captain America and Bucky, the radiologically untreated formula they ingested eventually gave them psychotic symptoms. The two become unreliable with a violent paranoia that led them to attacking innocents simply for their race or for holding opinions that even remotely differed from their own. They were arrested and put into suspended animation by government agents.

The "Captain America of the 1950s" and his "Bucky" are kept in suspended animation until they are reawakened decades later[4]. The still mentally ill duo were sent out to kill the original Captain and his then-partner Falcon. They were defeated by the heroes and returned to their suspended animation, although Rogers had the disquieting thought that he could have suffered his 1950s successor's fate himself in the same circumstances.[5 ]

They are given over to the custody of the psychologist Doctor Faustus for treatment[6 ]. Faustus mind-controls the 1950s Captain in an attempt to use him against the World War II Steve Rogers. The unnamed man returns as "The Grand Director"[7], the leader of a Neo-Nazi group called "The National Force" under the mind control of Dr. Faustus. Dr. Faustus proudly reveals that he brainwashed the 1950s Captain America into becoming the Grand Director. Then Faustus orders the Grand Director to kill Captain America and Daredevil. Instead, horrified with the revelation of his manipulation against his former identity as 1950s Captain America, the Grand Director curls up into the fetal position and presses a button on his utility belt engulfing his body in flames.[6 ]

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Return

After the true Steve Rogers' death, Sharon Carter finds that Faustus and the Red Skull have been keeping the 1950s Steve Rogers in suspended animation so that he would heal from his fire wounds.[8] It is revealed that Faustus was conditioning the 1950s Cap to kill the current Captain America, James Barnes, who was the murderer of "his" Bucky, Jack Monroe[9] as part of a larger plan. The plan was revealed to help third party candidate Sen Wright gain public sympathy as part of bid for the US Presidency under the ultimate control of the original Red Skull. The 1950s Rogers did not know the involvement of the Skull. The 1950s Rogers was last seen to have left Dr. Faustus' association after helping to rescue Sharon Carter from Arnim Zola and is now considering his place in modern society akin the same way that the World War II Rogers did when he first returned to modern society. Though based on his reflections he seems less than impressed with the current United States cultural view[10] and reflects a world view that is no longer in line with current society but more that of the earlier US history such as that of former US President Theodore Roosevelt from the Spanish-American War sometimes called "American Imperialism".

Powers and abilities

The 1950s Rogers has actual superhuman strength; his agility, dexterity, speed, reflexes & reaction, coordination, balance, and endurance are superior to those of any Olympic athlete, and his physiological functions operate at the peak of human efficiency. He is a trained boxer and a competent hand-to-hand combatant. As the 1950s Captain America, he wears a chain-mail costume (his 1950s version was distinguishable from the World War II Captain America's costume in that his 1950s costume torso stripes did not fully encircle the costume's waist) and carried a bulletproof steel shield which was destroyed.[5 ] Following his first revival from suspended animation, he briefly used an "atom-blaster" weapon, presumably salvaged from a government lab; as a member of the National Force, he had access to various forms of advanced technology.

The 1950s Rogers' current Captain America costume is an exact match to the first Rogers' primary current costume and carries a new round shield that has survived blows with the "indestructible" round shield now used by Barnes. The exact composition of this new shield has not been revealed as yet.

Footnotes

  1. ^ Captain America (Vol 5) 42
  2. ^ Captain America Annual #6, Captain America vol. 1 #285 (Sept. 1983)
  3. ^ Captain America vol. 1 #155
  4. ^ Captain America vol. 1 #153-156
  5. ^ a b Captain America vol. 1 #156
  6. ^ a b Captain America vol. 1 #236
  7. ^ Captain America vol. 1 #232-236 (April-August, 1979)
  8. ^ Captain America #37-38 (April-May 2008)
  9. ^ Captain America vol. 5 #40
  10. ^ Captain America vol. 5 #42

External links


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