Captain America joined the Avengers with issue #4 of that series. He’d been found frozen in ice and quickly joined the team, in part as a replacement for the Hulk who’d quit two issues earlier. Cap recounted how he’d gotten frozen in the first place, when he and his partner and sidekick Bucky had tried to disarm an explosive plane during World War II. Cap was thrown off and frozen in ice. Bucky was thrown off without an arm, and later emerged as the Winter Soldier.
But here’s the thing: that comic never happened. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby just needed a quick explanation of where Cap had been and why Bucky wasn’t around in case anyone actually remembered the two of them. There actually had been plenty of Cap and Bucky adventures between the end of World War II and when Steve Rogers joined the Avengers.
That’s where Nomad comes into play…
To date, there’s actually been four Nomads so far. Steve Rogers was the first, during one of those periods when he was disgusted with the government and quit being Captain America.
A second, short-lived Nomad was a patsy of the Red Skull’s before dying. The current, fourth Nomad is Ian Rogers, adopted son of Captain America, who can be seen running around the Secret Wars mini-series Hail Hydra.
But this week, I’m covering the third, best known of the Nomads, Jack Monroe.
What happened was there had been Captain America adventures, often written by Stan Lee, which depicted Cap and Bucky fighting communist agents including a communist Red Skull in what was clearly the 1950s. The retcon of Cap being frozen and Bucky dead probably meant Marvel’s writers and editors, including Lee, decided to forget those issues were ever published and move on. But there are always continuity-obsessed types who keep asking who the Cap and Bucky of the 50s were if that really was Cap and Bucky.
The final solution was that they were Cap and Bucky, but not the Cap and Bucky. These two were volunteers who offered to fill in for the real, presumed dead Cap and Bucky. They were given the government’s best approximation of the super-soldier serum, and off they went.
Ah, but loyal Captain America fans will tell you, quite accurately, that no one ever quite duplicated the super-soldier serum the correct way. That certainly was the case for these two when they were reintroduced into the main Marvel time line as a pair of patriots turned insane by bad super-soldier serum, both having been thawed out of their own cryogenic freeze by agents looking to take down the real Captain America and his then-partner the Falcon. I hate when that happens.
What does all this have to do with Nomad? Well, Jack Monroe was the Bucky of the 50s.
As an adult, Monroe would wander around the countryside, doing good deeds and helping people out. At one point, he had a series of his own, where he toted a baby he’d found and named…Bucky. A little girl in a domino mask. What’s not to like?
Single Parent Homeless Transient Superhero ran for about 25 issues before being canceled. Jack was starting to hallucinate and was put on ice while a mysterious European millionaire took in Baby Bucky. Jack’d get thawed out once in a while, but it never was for long or went well.
Monroe’s last adventure saw him dead in a parking lot, killed under mysterious circumstances. Said mysterious circumstances turned out to be a lot less mysterious when it was revealed to the Winter Soldier who’d killed him. That would be the original Bucky. By then, Monroe was seriously hallucinating. He thought he was battling a drug ring, but was instead beating up all kinds of innocent people based on a misunderstanding of his own after overhearing what he thought was a drug deal but turned out to be…well, nothing of the sort. He knew he was starting to crack, he knew he didn’t have much time, but he really didn’t know how little time he had left. In retrospect, the Winter Soldier’s actions come across more as a sad mercy killing than anything else.
Of course, it was the original death of Bucky that led to the birth of Jack Monroe. Naturally, the return of that Bucky led to the death of Jack Monroe. The circle of life rolls on…