When Sam Wilson took up the mantle of Captain America, he also took on a new partner, Steve Rogers’ son, who tragically died at the hands of Hydra.
In 2015’s All-New Captain America by Rick Remender and Stuart Immonen, Sam Wilson takes on Hydra, having replaced Steve Rogers as America’s star-spangled hero. This premise of the comic has recently entered into the MCU, as seen in Disney’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series.
Surprisingly, there was another contender to be the next Captain America in mid-2010s: Steve Rogers’s adopted son Ian. Despite being passed over, Ian, who goes by the codename Nomad, genuinely likes Sam, and the two heroes fight side-by-side against Hydra until Ian was struck down by tragedy.
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While trapped in the desolate Dimension Z, Steve Rogers raised Ian in a barren, harsh world, growing to consider him a son in all respects. When Steve returned to the Marvel Universe, he brought the now-young-adult Nomad with him. Shortly after that, Steve lost his powers and was no longer physically fit enough to keep fighting. This is what leads to his partner Sam Wilson, the Falcon, to become the next Captain America in the Marvel Universe. Prior to this, other heroes had taken up the shield when Steve was absent, with Bucky Barnes being the most obvious example. However, unlike the events depicted in the MCU‘s show, Sam’s main partner is Ian Rogers, otherwise known as Nomad.
The two heroes attack a Hydra base and learn that the criminal organization is trying to use an Inhuman boy with poison blood as part of their plans. Most of the classic Captain America villains have banded together for this plot, including Baron Zemo, Crossbones, Batroc the Leaper and even the Nazi vampire Baron Blood. Completely outnumbered, the two heroes become separated in the fight, and Sam flies the Inhuman child away from the battle to safety. However, the boy is actually with Hydra and shoots Sam, leaving him wounded and stranded in the middle of a group of supervillains. Even as all hope seems lost, he is rescued by Misty Knight, who has been working deep undercover. Unfortunately, Ian is not so lucky.
After the villains subdue Ian, Baron Zemo explains Hydra’s plans. The group intends to use the Inhuman boy’s blood to sterilize the planet, which they see as the best way of combating overpopulation. Zemo lists a number of concerns he hopes to address: droughts, famines, resource depletion, and dependency on fossil fuels. While addressing real problems, his solution misidentifies the cause of these problems as people breeding too much and in keeping with Hydra’s agenda, he sees genocide as the answer. But Hydra’s agents have been inoculated against the toxins in the boy’s blood. As his monologue ends, Zemo leans in, saying he wants Ian to understand the full scale of his failure before slicing the hero’s throat.
A while later, Sam and Misty find Ian’s corpse. This is a turning point when Sam realizes he is not only failing to live up to the legacy of Captain America, but that Steve Rogers’s son died on his watch. Despite this, he pushes on, working to stop Hydra before their plan can come to fruition. Soon, he finds himself face-to-face with Zemo in a desperate fight that is as much about avenging Ian’s death as it is about saving the world. However, their fight is interrupted by Ian, who has miraculously returned to life.
After defeating Baron Zemo, the young Rogers explains that his suit contains a special bio-gel made by the villainous scientist Arnim Zola that allows his body to regenerate from any injury. This revelation is shocking, to say the least. Sam and Ian eventually manage to foil Hydra’s plans, albeit at a great personal cost. Since then, Ian Rogers has only appeared in a handful of comics, but he has mostly remained in obscurity, overshadowed by the return of Steve Rogers to the role of Captain America.
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