Warning: contains spoilers for Black Cat #1!
King in Black is forcing Marvel’s huge range of heroes to work together against the symbiote god Knull, bringing together characters as disparate as Black Cat and Captain America in Black Cat #1. However, in doing so, Marvel Comics have offered up another example of Captain America’s secret super-power.
The living legend of World War II, Steve Rogers became one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes when he was subjected to the super-soldier serum. He proved himself going head-to-head with Nazis in Europe, and then was cryogenically preserved in ice – emerging in the present day to become leader of the Avengers. In truth, Captain America’s powerset is actually pretty basic. His physiology has been enhanced, meaning he has superhuman strength, speed, agility, and endurance. All these powers combine with a mind that races faster than any of his friends and allies, allowing him to put together innovative strategies at speed. Steve Rogers’ tactical brilliance is only one of the reasons he is the Avengers’ greatest leader, though – as Jed Mackay, Nina Vakueva, and Carlos Villa reveal in Black Cat’s most recent adventure.
Black Cat #1 is a tie-in to Marvel’s current King in Black event. It sees the Avengers rally in New York against an invading army of symbiotes, fighting a losing battle. The Black Cat – a sneak-thief who’s sometimes a hero and sometimes a villain – gets caught up in the crossfire, and she finds herself drawn into the fight simply because of a few words from Captain America. “I don’t believe in America,” Felicia Hardy thinks to herself. “But seeing him, hearing him talk… I almost feel like I could.” Even as the symbiotes advance, and some of Earth’s most powerful heroes fall at her side, the Black Cat finds herself inspired by Steve Rogers. She is one of the few heroes to escape – and even as Knull presses on to conquer the Earth, she commits herself to continuing the mission she has been given by Captain America.
This is Captain America’s greatest power. It isn’t his physical strength, it isn’t his tactical brilliance; it is his ability to inspire others with just a few words. It is impossible to interact with this kind of man and not be changed as a result. There is a nobility to his character that inspires others to seek to do good, an innate sense of trust that leads others to desire to be trustworthy, even those who are mostly known as the best thieves in the business. And while this ability could come from Steve Rogers as a person or from the subtle enhancements he received from the Super Soldier Serum, it’s something unique to him which is as essential to saving the world as his acrobatic skill or shield.
Indeed, this is why Captain America will always be the Avengers’ greatest leader. The nobility and goodness of his character shines through, leading others to actually desire to set their differences aside and fight to save the world. And though he is defeated by the King in Black, he leaves Black Cat committed to freeing the Sorcerer Supreme: a perilous mission that Felicia Hardy wouldn’t have undertaken for anybody else.
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