11. Captain America Lives Again (Avengers #4)
Captain America was first reintroduced in the Silver Age during an issue of Strange Tales #114 when the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four battled the World War II-era hero only to discover that the man was an impostor. A few months later, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought Cap back for real when the fledgling Avengers superteam discovered Captain America frozen in ice. The super soldier was reanimated and immediately became the leader of the Avengers, kicking off the next 50 years as one of Marvel’s flagship characters. Avengers #4 establishes the heart and soul of Captain America’s Silver Age origin story. It illustrates that fateful day 20 years earlier when he and his young sidekick Bucky attempt to disarm an explosive-filled drone plane. Cap realizes the plane is rigged to blow and lets go, falling into the ocean underneath him. Bucky on the other hand isn’t as fortunate, and is presumed dead (and stays that way for more than 45 years). Beyond the Bucky/frozen in ice origin story, Avengers #4 is also integral in establishing how Captain America evolved beyond being just a World War II propaganda piece. Like other heroes introduced during the Marvel Age of Comics, Captain America is haunted by his past and faults himself for the death of his partner. These are the kinds of stories that differentiated Marvel’s superhero stories from the Distinguished Competition.