On this day in 1777, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the 13-starred flag as the official symbol of the United States of America! Ever since, Betsy Ross’s most well known creation has inspired designers to use it in creating some of the most iconic heroes around and, of course, comic book artists are no different.
Whether we’re talking about World War II era mystery men and women or the folks running around fighting the good fight today, plenty of people have decided to wrap themselves in colors reminiscent of that grand ol’ flag of ours! Here’s a rundown of some of the best and brightest!
The granddaddy super patriot of them all might not exactly reflect America’s ideals as the head of Hydra these days, but we have faith he’ll be back to the red, white and blue glory we’ve known and loved since CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 in 1941.
James Buchanan Barnes debuted right alongside Steve Rogers in that first issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS. Eventually turned into the Winter Soldier by the Russians, he returned to the world of hero-ing as Captain America and the Winter Soldier, usually carrying over some elements of his original costume.
Another WWII hero, Miss America debuted in MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS before moving into her own solo book and then teaming up with other heroes of her ilk in both the All-Winners Squad and the Liberty Legion.
The first Patriot, Jeffrey Mace, debuted in 1941’s HUMAN TORCH #4 and kicked off a long tradition of America-loving heroes that includes Young Avenger Eli Bradley and the new version who will makes his presence felt during Secret Empire.
Mace even inspired a woman named Mary Morgan to follow in his heroic footsteps as originally seen in the pages of MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #29 and #50. She wore a costume nearly identitcal to his and went by Miss Patriot. Learn more about Morgan and Mace in CAPTAIN AMERICA PATRIOT.
Spirit of ’76
William Naslund debuted as the Minuteman-looking Spirit of ’76 in the pages of INVADERS #14, but thanks to some retconning laid down in WHAT IF?! #4, he also wore the Captain America costume after Steve and Bucky disappeared during WWII, which helped explain the issues of CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS that featured the title character after the war ended.
Back before Captain America was even a glimmer in Uncle Sam’s eye, Phantom Eagle flew the skies defending the good, ol’ U.S. Of A during World War I! This costumed fighter pilot debuted in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #16 and even served on the international super-team called Freedom’s Five!
After spending years with the original Guardians of the Galaxy in his red and white containment suit, Vance Astrovik took on a new Cap-inspired look as seen in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #20. In addition to wielding the shield, Vance also took on the name Major Victory, but eventually returned to his classic look.
Squadron Supreme member Blue Eagle may have looked like his reality’s version of Miss America with a bird head and wings when he first appeared in AVENGERS #85, but eventually took on a few more unique, red-and-blue-themed costumes that he made his own.
Jason Strongbow’s changed costumes a number of times since his first appearance in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL #6, but this Native American hero has always incorporated the red, white and blue whether in more traditional garb or a simple biker look.
Fans of the 80s series US 1 will remember its star Ulysses Archer, a young man with a partially robotic skull that helps him hear radio frequencies. The big rig driver often sported blue jeans, a white T-shirt and red jacket!
When John Walker first appeared in CAPTAIN AMERICA #323, he donned the Super-Patriot costume. After Steve refused to follow orders from the government, he abandoned the Cap identity and they hired Walker to fill the costume. Eventually Steve took the mantle back, but offered Walker his black, white and blue Captain uniform which he took, becoming U.S. Agent in the process.
A friend of John Walker’s, Lemar Hoskins became Bucky to his Cap in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA #334. Lemar eventually ditched the Bucky duds and name to become Battlestar in #341, getting his own shield in the process.
Though she initially owed her enhanced abilities to the villain Superia as seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA #431, Cathy Webster eventually trained under the Super Patriot himself as Free Spirit!
Jack Flag got in on the patriotic action with CAPTAIN AMERICA #434. He took the color scheme to the next level with a kind of handkerchief mask and red, white and blue hair! Though he and Cathy disappeared for a while, they’ve both been instrumental in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS.
In the MC2 Universe a young woman by the name of Sharon Carter took up Captain America’s mission as well as his shield in the pages of A-NEXT #4. She also appeared alongside 1941 Cap, Bucky Cap, U.S. Agent and Commander A in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA CORPS.
Back when Baron Zemo started the Thunderbolts as a group of villains posing as heroes, he took on the identity of a hardly-known Brit hero named Citizen V. He made the name his own, though, by fashioning a regal costume with a flag-themed cap and V-shaped mask!
In the ’50s, Patrick Carney became the Yankee Clipper after a time traveler warned him of an impending Skrull invasion and left him with her super-belt as readers learned in MARVEL: THE LOST GENERATION. He brought other heroes together to fight them off, but ultimately jumped to a future that no longer seemed to need him.
In the pages of TRUTH, we learned that Isaiah Bradley actually became the precursor for Captain America before Steve Rogers even joined the Army. The only survivor of the initial Super Soldier Serum experiments, Isaiah continued to serve his county, eventually donning an early version of the Captain America costume and becoming a legendary figure in the hero community.
Isaiah Bradley’s legacy continued through his family members as well. We mentioned the Young Avenger Patriot above who also happened to be Isaiah’s grandson, but his son Josiah also became a costumed crimefighter. Dubbing himself Josiah X, he joined up with other heroes in the original THE CREW book.
Even bad guys can create great-lookin patriot looks! Norman Osborn built and wore the original Iron Patriot armor during Dark Reign, but ill-advisedly attacked Asgard, losing his duds and freedom for a time. These days Doctor Toni Ho wears her own version in the pages of U.S.AVENGERS!
In the AVENGERS: ULTRON FOREVER reality, Danni Cage – the daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones – not only scores the combined powers of her parents, but also becomes Captain America, shield and all. She even made her way to Earth 616 where she also serves in U.S.AVENGERS!
During his time as the shield-slinger – starting with CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 7 #25 – Sam Wilson combined the original look with elements of his Falcon identity to create a new take on an old classic as seen up until recently in CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON.
Ever since her first appearance in VENGEANCE #1, America Chavez has rocked some combination of flag colors that represent her name. That continues to this day whether she’s appearing in the pages of ULTIMATES or in her own solo book AMERICA.