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In a 1986 issue of Captain America, I discovered that not only was Captain America working as an artist for an ad agency, but he was doing so as Steve Rogers, with no one knowing that he was also Captain America.

enter image description here From Captain America #309

It was always my understanding that the general public knew Steve Rogers was Captain America. His identity is currently listed as public on his Marvel Wiki page. Why was he using a secret identity in the mid-80s? Was his identity really not publicly known until recently?

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Captain America's identity wasn't always public. After 9/11 Marvel decided that real heroes don't keep their identities private and went around revealing publicly the identities of Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc. Captain America ended up revealing his identity on television cameras, when he was calling out terrorists early in the 2002 Captain America (volume 4?) run.

Later on in that 1980's run Steve Rogers becomes a freelance artist for Marvel Comics drawing his own comic book.

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    I'm not sure how far this goes to answering the question. Plenty of information on his latest public identity outing, but none on his former? – AncientSwordRage May 1 '12 at 21:39
  • Steve Rogers becomes an artist for Marvel...? Sounds more like something Deadpool would do. – Wikis Aug 25 at 17:22
  • In the Golden Age, during WW II, nobody knew who Captain America was under the mask. Classified information. After he went MIA, and after the war, eventually the identity was available, as shown in "Captain America" #155 (1972). But that story didn't make clear if the information was easily available at the public library or required special permission to see the government files. Anyhow, his identity was not wide, public knowledge. But also, the name "Steve Rogers" is pretty generic.. A websearch brings up five people with that name right away. Not a name for the boss to be excited over – Blaze Aug 26 at 22:09
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The answer is that his identity was secret until 2002. There was no "previous outing."

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Part of The Answer is that the Captain America identity/character, along with the uniform, name and shield were the invention and property of the United States Government, which is why there was a Red Scare era Captain America and Bucky running around in the 1950s while Steve Rogers was on ice and MIA.

By the Watergate Era, Marvel did a famous epic storyline in the Captain America book called Secret Empire, wherein the unmasked (but unseen) mastermind of the criminal conspiracy is heavily implied to be the sitting President, Richard M. Nixon. The shock of this revelation led to a brief identity crisis for Steve Rogers, wherein he briefly renounced the Captain America identity and became a wandering Knight Errant under the name Nomad — since then? The Marvel orthodoxy has always been that while Captain America is the Champion of The American Nation ( and it’s Legitimate Government), Steve Rogers is, and Always will be The Champion of The American PEOPLE.

This all came to a head during the Iran Contra era, when Steve’s conscience compelled him to resign his Army commission (he is an actual Captain in the US Army), turn in his uniform and shield and renounce the Captain America identity rather than carry out legal orders from the White House to carry out Covert Actions in support of Small wars in Central America, and thus, a new solider was promoted to serve as Captain America for a time, whilst Steve himself continued to fight crime and serve with the Avengers in a new black and red costume, calling himself The Captain.

It’s like Bruce Wayne explains in The Dark Knight Rises — Captain America is an Idea, and the idea is that ANYBODY could be Captain America under the mask.

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